A Creative Loafing article this week does a good job of detailing the successes and challenges of Downtown Atlanta from the residents’ point of view.
A series of items have appeared recently in local media about the changes taking place here, with big openings happening this year (College Football Hall of Fame, Atlanta Streetcar, Center for Civil & Human Rights) and more on the way (the potential sale of city-owned Underground Atlanta for development, the new Falcons Stadium).
Having all this focus on my neighborhood right now is a mixed blessing. It’s good to have people thinking about the area in a new light, but I’m also very aware that Downtown, as a neighborhood, may not be quite ready for a big “look at us now!” kind of spotlight on this level.
This whole “year of downtown" thing is a little to PR-ish for me. Yes, we’ve got these large-scale, flashy projects happening here for visitors, but as a resident I’m more excited about the small scale stuff that affects livability, and I’m really happy to read these proposals for new residential developments. Getting more people living here long-term will give the area a big boost.
This is the most important quote, to me, from the CL article (which is really thorough and covers much more than just the big projects happening):
23,000 residents have filled more than 95 percent of Downtown’s existing units. Faced with overwhelming housing demand, and only a handful of various projects such as the 250 Piedmont Avenue's and the Atlanta Daily World building's residential conversions on deck, new residential projects might follow in the next few years.
A spotlight might be more appropriate in a couple of years, after these proposed residential projects are open and the streetcar has had a chance to work its mojo.
Two things of note the article doens’t mention: 1.) The zoned elementary school, Centennial Place. It’s doing a great job in a challenging spot and it’s converting to a charter school this year. That’s a big plus for Downtown. 2.) Bike lanes! We’re getting a cycle track on Peachtree Center Avenue that connects with the Edgewood Avenue bike lane; a separated bike lane on Portman Blvd; and the Freedom Path multiuse trail (which intersects with the Beltline) is going to be extended to Centennial Park.
Developments like these two can go under the radar compared to big-money projects, but they represent the kind of change that will make Downtown a better place to live in for a broad range of people.