Put A Cap On It!

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Apparently, Curbed Atlanta won’t let me comment on any of their posts without technical issues, so I thought that I’d deliberate on their latest post.  There was a conversation just today about “capping” the Downtown Connector.  Aesthetically, when Atlanta is viewed, what you see is a huge gray scab running through a sea of green and tall skyscrapers.  Or someone would give you a peach. But what if all that gray was covered?

I absolutely LOVE this idea.  Imagine the possibilities that could be done if the Downtown Connector was out of sight and out of mind.  Of course, we have to pay homage to the geniuses at Georgia Tech who were already over this idea with the Fifth Street Pedestrian Bridge.  If there were residential abodes in that area, THAT would be the prime example of smart growth in Atlanta.  

But back to the cap. Whenever I bring family into Atlanta for the first time, driving down the Downtown Connector is one of my bucket list items for them.  They MUST see the view. This would put a damper on that, but in retrospect, it would put our city in a healthier light.  Of course, we can’t bulldoze the two major interstates to make Atlanta look better. However, we can turn a negative into a positive by dressing up the top and adding flare for others to enjoy.  The Buckhead financial district is basically built on a Georgia 400 Overpass.  Why can’t we build more of Midtown over the Connector?

Midtown and Downtown have been cut off to this behemoth highway and created the biggest eyesore for the city (Well, unless you count those fast-pace pictures where you see the car taillights in a skinny, red line). I would encourage others, and the city of Atlanta to embark on this endeavor.  Boston has done it, Montreal has done it, and Atlanta can definitely do it. 

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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.