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The Atlanta BeltLine: A role for us all

BeltLine Partnership run

There's a role for a large group of stakeholders to develop the Atlanta BeltLine into an amenity that serves all, as it does during the annual Eastside Trail fun runs that benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership. Credit: beltline.org

By Guest Columnist CHUCK MEADOWS, whose two-year term as executive director of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership ended in July

chuck meadows

Chuck Meadows

My tenure as executive director of the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership ended last summer. I remain supportive of the project and the positive impacts it can have on our city. Indeed, the Atlanta BeltLine is an initiative that affects the entire region – which means that all of us should not only pay close attention, but also look for ways to become involved.

The challenges of delivering, supporting and managing the impacts of the nation’s most transformative project are not meant for the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. alone. In fact, successful partnerships are at the heart of the Atlanta BeltLine success story. Organizations like the Trust for Public Land and the PATH Foundation provided early and impactful support, and Trees Atlanta and Park Pride are also actively working with the City of Atlanta to advance the project.

As build-out continues and the impact spreads to a longer list of Atlanta neighborhoods, other partner organizations must find ways to lend guidance, expertise and capacity in lots of other categories. While coordination and communication with both the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. is a must, they shouldn’t wait for an invitation before cooking up ideas on how they can help.

IPV Lofts

The Inman Park Village Lofts opened in 2006 and units range in price from $170,000 to $400,000, according to atlantacityhomes.com. Credit: aboveatlanta.com

There is a long list of civic groups and community-minded organizations that have valuable assets to lend to an initiative of this magnitude, and that support is to the benefit of the entire region.

This is especially true in the area of inclusive BeltLine housing.

Atlanta BeltLine Inc.’s legislative mandate requires the agency to create 5,600 affordable housing units in the 22-mile corridor.

This target was based on projections as to what the Affordable Housing Trust Fund could support. That Trust Fund, however, is fueled by proceeds from a tax allocation district that still performs below pre-Great Recession estimates, meaning there simply is not as much revenue to support affordable housing as originally anticipated.

chuck meadows

Chuck Meadows, when he was CEO of the BeltLine Partnership (Photo: Courtesy of Chuck Meadows)

We must therefore be even more deliberate, innovative and creative in responding to this urgent problem.

Further, there is a consensus among advocates and experts that the need for affordable – or at least moderately priced – housing in the Atlanta BeltLine corridor far exceeds 5,600 units. What’s needed is a multi-lateral, collective effort to set a goal for inclusive housing units in the Atlanta BeltLine planning area, with general guidance on how those units should be spread throughout the corridor.

Solving this problem will take a broad coalition of partners and stakeholders. As that coalition is built, it will be important to clearly establish roles, responsibilities and accountability to a list of partner organizations. Success will depend on the collaboration of a capable, well-rounded and well-resourced group willing to work cooperatively toward a set of common, inclusive goals.

The more Atlanta plays a role in the Atlanta BeltLine, the more the Atlanta BeltLine will benefit all of Atlanta.

Note to readers: In addition to his former position with the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, Chuck Meadows is an Atlanta native, a graduate of Morehouse College and Harvard University, and the current president of Jim Adams, LLC, an urban agri-business start-up.

BeltLine Partnership run

There’s a role for a large group of stakeholders to develop the Atlanta BeltLine into an amenity that serves all, as it does during the annual Eastside Trail fun runs that benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership. Credit: beltline.org


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  1. Burroughston Broch November 14, 2016 9:27 am

    The author overstates the BeltLine’s importance. The Atlanta BeltLine affects Atlanta City but not the entire region. If you believe he is correct, ask yourself this question, “What are the odds that citizens in Carroll and Pickens counties would tax themselves to pay for the Atlanta BeltLine?”Report

  2. John R Naugle November 15, 2016 1:45 pm

    Greetings from Atlanta: City of Peace. Chuck, your article was very inspiring. We can never understate the Beltline’s importance. It’s exciting to note that the Beltline is predicted to pump $20-30 BILLION into the metro-Atlanta economy over the next 2+ decades. To say that Atlanta’s real estate market is HOT is an unequivocal understatement. 

    How wonderful that during the ceremony of the Beltline’s first international award: “The Prix d‘Excellence Award” (given in Luxembourg by the International Real Estate Federation at their World Conference which focused on Building Humanity) it was named:

    “The best environmental rehab project in the world…”

    QUANTIFY this… Dr. King’s birthplace, where he defined the ultimate ideals of “The Beloved Community”, is THE IDEAL global poster-child for defining to OUR Global Family the GREAT ways in which we can live in a peaceful, loving, collaborative and united way. Beltline visionary Ryan Gravel says it succinctly through his new book’s title:

    “Where We Want To Live”

    Yes, property prices and taxes may be escalating, but along with that are actions of genuine citizens who insure key virtues also scale; e.g., COURAGE, PEACE, LOVE, HOPE, JUSTICE, EQUALITY, COMPASSION, SERVICE, MERCY, etc, etc.

    The Beltline is a dynamic project leading Atlanta’s international transformation just like Dr. King’s global influence, the affect of the Centennial Olympic Games and also ATL: The World’s Busiest Airport (through which Atlanta will forever learn to advantage Tourism: The World’s Biggest Peace Industry).Report

  3. LiynLing November 16, 2016 12:05 pm

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  4. EmilWalcek November 16, 2016 4:26 pm

    Burroughston Broch As a magnet for tourism, development and stimulus for growth I can see the BeltLine having a largely indirect impact on outlying areas. Added population coming to live, work, play in and around the Beltline will surely result in some venturing outside the direct area sooner or later. But you’re right, it would be a hard sell to ask outsiders to fund it.Report

  5. Noel M November 19, 2016 9:52 pm

    Burroughston Broch This article is about fully implementing the vision of The Atlanta Beltline, including affordable housing. It’s not about the Beltline’s importance per se – or about what folks in other counties think about it. It’s about making the Beltline all that it was envisioned to be.Report

  6. Burroughston Broch November 20, 2016 12:25 pm

    Read the last sentence of the first paragraph.Report

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