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Commentary: Planners eye Atlanta’s potential growing pains

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta


 


 

What does Atlanta want to look like when it grows up? That’s a question city planners are faced with.

They’ve launched the “Atlanta City Design Project,” which aims to be pro-active about how we handle future growth and development. For decades, we’ve been reacting to proposals from developers and market forces rather than setting our own course.

Atlanta planning commissioner Tim Keane recently hired Ryan Gravel — the visionary who brought us the Atlanta BeltLine — to manage the Atlanta Design Project.

With projected population growth by 2.5-million in the region over the next 25 years — Keane said it is possible that Atlanta’s current population of 450,000 could double or triple in that time frame.

Midtown Miracle

The “Atlanta City Design Project” aims to be pro-active about how the city handles future growth and development. File/Credit: David Pendered

So how will the city accommodate a million or more residents?

Keane and Gravel believe we should have a community conversation to figure out which areas in the city should welcome growth and about guidelines for development.

For example, downtown has a great deal of vacant or underused land that could be redeveloped for much greater density. We can adopt a vision to encourage more street life with ground-level retail and wider sidewalks.

But the challenge will be to design a city that speaks to what makes Atlanta special, retaining its natural beauty — our tree canopy — and the character of our neighborhoods, while developing a more urbanized city where all of us can live, work and visit.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

1 reply
  1. very anonymous says:

    Right now two things make Atlanta different 
    1. The HUGE population of homeless people we have wondering the streets of downtown and midtown who sometimes and sometimes not become aggressive without any provocation and do some pretty scary things. Case in point the sidewalk slugger captured yesterday has been arrested 27 TIMES……27 TIMES……
    2. Some bad ass criminals who are very bold in their actions to carjack you, break into your home while you are there or rob you in broad daylight. 
    Until those two issues are addressed no amount of density, tree canopy or ground level retail makes any difference because businesses do not want to go where there employees will be in danger. 
    This current Mayor has been more focused on making money than governing. Period. As they say “crime doesnt pay” for him at least. Building new condos in Buckhead/Midtown is very profitable however. 
    Wanna see what happens when nobody cares? Ride down Metropolitan Ave, go to Pittsburg  or Slyvan Hills or Cleveland Ave or Donald Hollowell  or basically anywhere on the soutside. Those people sure as heck aren’t seeing any renaissance. For them its the same scene day after day. Those are the people suffering from domestic terrorism.  For this city to grow our leaders need to have the courage to make some bold moves on the southside and Im not talking about building libraries. Im talking about getting the bad guys off the streets.Report

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