At a recent neighborhood meeting, the new owners of Downtown Atlanta’s historic Olympia Building (the one with the Coke sign on top) gave a presentation about their plans for it and I’m very excited.
Built in 1935 and designed by the same firm behind Atlanta’s Crum and Forster Building, the Olympia has been empty for years. The new owners will restore the corner at Peachtree Street — opened up to the sidewalk during the 1996 Olympics — to its original enclosed state and renovate the interior to attract new tenants (Walgreen’s is reportedly very interested in the largest space).
The photo below, taken in the 1960s, shows what the Peachtree side looked like before.
A page on the City of Atlanta website provides a good history of the building and how it once fit into the fabric of a more pedestrian-oriented city, serving as a nexus of activity at the Five Points intersection:
It was one of Atlanta’s favorite meeting places, a place to “hang-out,” gossip, grab a magazine and a “coke”, or a ride home on a passing streetcar. As the automobile became popular and Five-Points became the center of Atlanta’s growing metropolis, people stopped loitering at this corner and started driving by it…what had once been a stopping place in a pedestrian-oriented downtown was now an automotive reckoning point in the heart of Atlanta.
The chance for Five Points to once again become more of a destination for pedestrians was already coming this year with the return of the streetcar. And now this restoration, at a building on the streetcar route, makes the future look even brighter for this historic center of the city.
The AJC’s Ariel Hart writes a good piece on the state of Atlanta’s transit proposals now that T-SPLOST funding chances are a distant memory.
Interestingly, it looks like there’s potential for streetcar expansion on the Atlanta Beltline through public-private partnerships. The image above shows what the corridor could look like with proposed rail spurs that stretch out into streets.
First, a nice quote on the various proposals and the underway downtown streetcar:
A new streetcar line is under construction and likely to open in 2014. The planned rail component of the Beltline, far from sinking to oblivion after the T-SPLOST, is the subject of intense talks for innovative private funding, and is even sprouting new proposed lines. Even the state, long stymied on transit, is taking the first steps toward a long-discussed transit hub downtown.
I’m intrigued by this idea, in another quote, that public-private funding could provide even more money to Beltline transit than the T-SPLOST could have:
[Mayor] Reed said he is “very confident” that a public-private partnership could yield more than the T-SPLOST proposed, up to $800 million.
If that ends up being true, the loss of funding from a 10-year regional tax might not be that bad of a thing — it may have pointed the way to a brighter future with a potentially more sustainable funding model.
Image of Beltline corridor transit design from Flickr user Atlanta Betline
The Transport Politic has a great piece on all the transit projects underway this year, including our own Atlanta Streetcar. There’s a spiffy map with the details, including track length and cost. Click the image above to see the larger version, and be sure to take a look at the full post, which covers the political struggles going on with transportation funding.