Jonathan Carnright at Curbed Atlanta has a good post today that touches on two things that burn me up: 1.) the “but Atlanta’s not Portland” argument and 2.) massive parking garages at street level.
The “Atlanta’s not (Portland, NYC, whatever)” argument is a common rallying cry for people who are scared of change. It comes up many times when progress toward good urbanism (density, pedestrian and cycling amenities, traffic calming) is proposed here.
You know what Atlanta also isn’t? The same city it was 30 years ago. Or 30 years before that. Car dependency and sprawl are traits that are neither unique to Atlanta nor worthy of preservation.
Carnright mentions this argument in reference to a trend in Portland of new multi-family buildings being built without adjacent parking, and how it contrasts with the trend of new apartments in Midtown Atlanta that have massive garages attached.
This model of mixed-use towers surrounded by parking decks is one that Atlanta and other cities of similar size and age have adopted with new development and I think it stinks. I’m much more partial to the kind of density you get with medium-rise places like Inman Village Lofts and Pencil Factory Flats where parking garages are off the street and hidden away. Midtown’s own Biltmore at Midtown apartments do this.
This thing where huge city blocks are dominated by the blank walls of parking garages defeats one of the main good aspects of density: walkability. Who wants to walk around that? Might as well just hop in the car and drive past it.
Photo from The Midtown Archive and yes, that means I just double-mined content from Jonathan. I’m lazy.