Much Ado About Avondale

ImageGreetings, Loyal Followers!  Sorry that it’s been so long without a blog.  If it gets this way, I also blog on MARTA Rocks! from time to time.  However, I have soooo much to go on about!  Most recently, I attended the first meeting for the Atlanta Railvolutionaries meeting at the Avondale MARTA Station.  If you haven’t followed with this group, you should.  They are beginning their nonprofit group of advocating transit-oriented development around MARTA stations and encouraging residents and civic leaders alike to engage in conversations to enhance transit accessibility in various communities.  Thursday was the first meeting to discuss the comprehensive plan to surge mixed-use development around the Avondale MARTA station.  Joining us that day was Amanda Thompson, Planning Director with the City of Decatur, Patrick Sweeney, Senior Project Manager for Transit and Transportation from the Atlanta BeltLine, and a host of MARTA representatives.

The study was revived from a 2002 plan to bring life back into the busy commuter station.  If you haven’t been past Decatur, it doesn’t look anything worth traveling to. Local points of interest are the DeKalb Farmers Market (1/2 or so mile walk away), the Waffle House Museum (which opens every once in a while), the town of Avondale Estates, and a handful of buses that will take you anywhere but there. The plan is to redevelop 7 acres north of the station into mixed-use development, but the land is owned by DeVry University, who cleverly moved their campus to Downtown Decatur to better service MARTA commuters.  There is also plans to renovate the southern portion of the station (which is actually in the city of Decatur) to make the station more of a town center station like the Decatur MARTA station.  This would include: sharing half of MARTA’s parking lots with the “new development”, connecting nearby streets to enhance walkability, and adding restaurants and shops to entice residents and commuters to walk around instead of to their car.  

The plans are still being developed even more and the engineers and developers that attended the meeting, which ended with a formal presentation at Cakes and Ales in the Decatur Town Square, said that it would be possible but would have to go through many hoops to reach success.  I believe that it would be a wonderful gem for the Blue Line as this station does not get the love that it should.  Come to think of it, has anyone visited the nearby breweries that are over there? Keyword: cashcow.

A Piece of Utopia

ImageWhile out one night, a group of friends and I went to Atlanta’s only Wet Willie’s which was awkwardly located streetside on Piedmont Road in Lindbergh City Center.  That got me thinking…Why isn’t Lindbergh living up to its full potential?

   As Atlanta’s only Transit-oriented Development site, Lindbergh Center can “get by” with its livability index with having residential apartments, a couple of restaurants, nightspots, a bank, and big-box stores to shop at nearby.  (and of course the coup de grace, the huge MARTA Station that makes all of this special, right).  For some reason, I don’t feel that Lindbergh City Center really qualifies as a true blue TOD site.  First off, there are thousands of parking space around it, which would really juxtapose the idea of a TOD site.  Second, the retail paradise is across the street from it all.  It would be lovely for a smaller Marshall’s store to relocate to City Center if that was possible.  I know they could definitely afford the rents here. But, in order to get to it, you have to walk 5 minutes from the train station, cross the traffic-choked Piedmont (and God forbid Sidney Marcus as well), and cross thousands of ample parking lots.  Very disgusting. 

What could be done better?  For one, Lindbergh City Center should try to look for some more suitable tenants.  MARTA is in the process of looking at some possible development sites around its train stations, and surprisingly enough, Lindbergh Center wasn’t one of them.  They must think its perfect or something. Second, make the area more inviting (to transit riders, that is.) Replace some of the parking decks with multi-level mixed-use development.  That would be a BIG move for the area. Also, if the retail on the other side of the tracks is looking to connect with the rest of the area, a pedestrian bridge wouldn’t hurt. Morsogo and Piedmont looks like a total crime scene.

Save Atlanta’s Playtime!!!

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Well, all you cool cats, pimps, skanks, johns and scalawags out there, you’ve been saved.  The Atlanta City Council voted Monday to block the legislation that would ink the rezoning of the Cheshire Bridge Road corridor, razing it of its world-famed adult businesses, video bars, sex and smoke shops.  However, I still can’t help to think WHY after all of these years, someone gets their balls up to wanna stand up and make a change?

  If you haven’t kept up with the story, a few months ago Council member Alex Wan proposed a measure to “redevelop” business along Cheshire Bridge Road.  That meant the sex shops, strip clubs, and even some car washes and consignment shops would be evacuated for a plan that doesn’t seem to really go anywhere.  I even looked at some of the proponents of the measure saying that they wanted Cheshire Bridge to be among the likes of Little Five Points and Virginia Highlands…comparing a sprawled-out thoroughfare to two walkable neighborhoods. That’s original. Thinking about it, this whole fiasco sound awfully familiar with the smoke and clouds known as The Streets of Buckhead (which we all seem to have very little faith in- let’s be real). I honestly though it was a ploy to bring him back into good terms (and office) with the locals there because he was recently given the shame of being voted “Least Progressive Atlanta Council member”.  And I thought Kwanza Hall was a bad dude. 

    Consider this a win for Atlanta once again.  The city has failed to create an overall identity for itself, and this guy might have just stuck a dagger straight through the heart of what we could consider our bread and butter.  Yeah, Smut Road looks tacky for any soccer moms living in adjacent Morningside and Linridge Manor, but the reality is that it has been there for YEARS. If you don’t like how a neighborhood looks on the inside and out, maybe you should just move.  Sam Massell killed Buckhead Village years ago and now there isn’t a stitch of progress on the new project that would have replaced where college kids, young professionals, and tourists called home. (because they were too drunk to drive).  Atlanta has to seriously move out of this “next big thing” trend with mixed-use development and focus on restoring what we already have. Hint Hint to Avalon in Alpharetta…

You’re Goin’ Downtown, Bub.

Name the last time you have ever went Downtown for anything. Falcons’ Game? Convention at the World Congress Center? Did you and your crew post up at Underground (when it was worth something), or do you happen to be one of those sheltered types that choose not to bother with it because it seems “scary”?  Contrary to popular belief, Downtown Atlanta is thriving as an community and as an amenity, according to Saporta Report columnist Saba Long.  As a Downtown resident for 4 years, I can attest to the growth that Downtown is seeing as a community and not just a 9-5 business district.  Most of this growth is attributed to Georgia State University, my now alma matter, who fuels most of the growth to supplement the 30,000 plus student body and staff that scatter around Downtown.  Downtown also sees growth from being the heavy tourist bubble of Atlanta, containing the Georgia Dome, Phillips Arena, World of Coke, etc. Conventioneers respect Atlanta in the aspect that all of these attractions are within walking distance and transit accessible to their hotels.  Downtown is also the regional headquarters for Federal, State, and Local offices, all situated in sort of the “no-mans land” south of Five Points.  I personally would love to see that area thrive more to attract people to stay instead of leave once the sun goes down.  Maybe it would be Downtown’s chance at snagging the only thing missing that would make it totally livable: A GROCERY STORE!!!! All in all, I love Downtown.  It makes Atlanta a true blue city and I hope to see Downtown blossom into bigger and better visions. Image