Developers say planned BeltLine project at 10th, Monroe is a chance to ‘get it right’

By Guest Columnist JIM KEGLEY, a partner in 10th and Monroe, LLC, which intends to develop property along the Atlanta BeltLine at Piedmont Park

We have lived in Midtown for 15 years. We share our neighbors’ love of the residential area. We also share our fellow Atlantans’ ambitions for our city, particularly as they’ve been articulated in our most transformational vision for our future: The Atlanta BeltLine. The land in which we have invested near the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Avenue represents an opportunity to express those values.

Jim Kegley

Jim Kegley

More than 20 years ago, we launched a technology company in metro Atlanta. We built that company, creating hundreds of jobs, and were fortunate to sell it in 2014. Since then, we have turned our entrepreneurial attention to how we can add value to communities via thoughtful and cutting edge development. None is more important to us than the opportunity at 10th and Monroe because it is a chance to get it right.

The BeltLine is transforming Atlanta. It is adding greenspace that brings Atlantans together and makes our lives healthier. The BeltLine is creating economic opportunity, particularly in neighborhoods that have experienced historic disinvestment. It is creating new mobility options – today with trails and one day with transit. And it is adding other value such as public art, which we know well from our longtime support of Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.

The BeltLine is also contributing to problems that every city faces – affordability and equity. But the project represents one of the greatest opportunities we have to address these challenges. That’s why we envision a redevelopment that will support adding new housing options – including 30 percent affordable. We also have an exciting opportunity to activate civic space in ways that we are still exploring. Offering more people – and a greater diversity of people – the chance to live, shop, eat and otherwise enjoy a great urban location requires greater density.

Greater density isn’t right in every location. But go to any great city’s greatest park and look around its periphery. You’ll see more dense development. (For that matter, go to 10th and Monroe and stand on the corner, turning in a circle to look in every direction. You’ll see a stadium, a retail center, a storage facility and some single-family homes.)

BeltLine, Kegley

Atlanta intends to sell for private development a tract of land located along the Atlanta BeltLine, adjacent to Piedmont Park near the intersection of 10th Street and Monroe Avenue. In this photo, the land is visible just beyond the two power poles. Credit: 10th and Monroe, LLC

The key is for density for it to be developed appropriately, sensitively. We intend to do so recognizing that this site has three front doors: Facing Monroe Drive, a key Atlanta thoroughfare; Piedmont Park and the Atlanta Beltline; and the Virginia Highlands neighborhood on Cresthill Avenue. The redevelopment will appropriately engage each. In doing so, we can work with public partners to extend the public realm, improve mobility at the gateway to Piedmont Park and Midtown, and continue to attract investment and talent to Atlanta.

A development proposed at this site more than a decade ago was grossly out of scale and alignment with the surrounding neighborhood. It promised neither amenities to benefit the public nor activation of the public realm. The success of the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail has since made obvious the opportunity to redevelop this important location for our city. As you travel the Atlanta BeltLine from Glenwood Park to Inman Park to Historic Fourth Ward Park to our City’s crown jewel, Piedmont Park, the redevelopment of 10th & Monroe – this property and the surrounding area – is a clear next opportunity to realize the community’s vision. Now is the time to realize the energy of Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market at this key gateway for our city.

We are committed to working with Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and a broad range of stakeholders to ensure that the redevelopment of this property acts as a catalyst to extend northward the success of the Eastside Trail, improve the intersection at this gateway to Piedmont Park and Midtown, and create economic opportunity in Atlanta. With the appropriate plan, the site can also benefit the community by contributing 50 times greater revenue to support city, county and school services.

Tenth and Monroe is significant to the entire city. We look forward to a public process of engaging numerous stakeholders. In casting a larger net, we are sure to capture more ideas to ultimately drive a better outcome. We invite you to be a part of the process of making it all it can be for Atlanta.

Note to readers: Jim Kegley and Steve Bowen are partners in 10th and Monroe, LLC, the company planning to develop a site along the Atlanta BeltLine near Piedmont Park. This guest column is in response to Maria Saporta’s “Maria’s Metro” column that was posted on Jan. 29.

 

14 replies
  1. madmulcher says:

    ‘..since then, we have turned our entrepreneurial attention to how we can add value to communities via thoughtful and cutting edge development. None is more important to us than the opportunity at 10th and Monroe because it is a chance to get it right…’

    ‘…Now is the time to realize the energy of Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market at this key gateway for our city…’

    And then also decided that Jeff Fuqua, the anti-Krog Street Market, anti- Ponce City Market, anti-thoughtful and anti-cutting edge developer is the right partner for this?

    (Vomits)

    You can do better Jeff.Report

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  2. J says:

    Jim- I find it hard to believe that you have experienced this travails of this intersection on a daily basis! You compare Piedmont Park to the parks of other”great” cities, but what you fail to notice is the single family housing that is next to Piedmont , the school, school children, and events. Let’s compare Piedmont to Central Park- no single family housing in the Central Park area and no schools located right next to the park. I would hazard a guess that those of us in surrounding communities purchased homes there because of these factors. To add additional density to an already overcrowded and dangerous intersection is really unconscionable.
    You reference “realizing the energy of Ponce City Mkt and Krog St.”, but these spaces do not offer housing, Ponce City’s entrance to the beltLine is above its most trafficked areas, so people do not have to worry about encountering traffic while on foot and Krog City also has no housing and no where near the spaces proposed in your current rendition of the development.
    I think there is already incredible energy at this intersection channeled through Beltline visitors, neighborhood residents, students, events, and the beauty of the park itself and that is the energy, we, as residents, want to keep ! Your energy vision might make more money, but ours will preserve the beauty and the access of the park and the belt line for years to come!Report

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  3. Allison Troxell says:

    You do realize that a young Grady student was killed at this very intersection a few years ago? It is dangerous to cross on foot or on a bike. So, why would adding a hotel and retail thus MORE traffic near this pedestrian intersection be a smart choice?

    And to echo the sentiment of the other commentor, Jeff Fuqua has a history of not caring about what neighborhood communities want or desire. Look no further than that monstrosity of a project that he dropped in Glenwood right across from a high school where traffic is further snarled. Partnering with Fuqua does not help make your case for caring about what is right for the neighbors.Report

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  4. Kathy says:

    We have had a tragic student death at that very intersection. We have hundreds of Inman and Grady students walking and biking at that intersection every day. Cars can barely get through 3 and 4 at a time to get to work on time. There is absolutely no way you can do a dense development at that location and not make it worse. It’s a pipe dream of your company and and simply to line your pockets. This neighborhood will fight you every step of the way.Report

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  5. Melanie Bass Pollard says:

    The earlier comments are hitting the many nails on the many heads of this article- clearly a backlash of the comments made on the earlier post:

    https://saportareport.com/proposed-project-fragile-beltline-site-monroe-10th-streets-raises-concerns/?replytocom=81310#respond

    This carries the jargon of developer sales speak I’ve seen and heard in many a report, many a brochure, and with profiteering motives hiding behind lofty ideals of purported visionary goals. Piedmont Park can never be Central Park when you look at the landscape and overview of the heavy canopied square acreage that is a “Community of Trees”. When you add the ocean breeze to the equation, it’s clear that any notion of being Central Park is out of question. We need to not be comparing ourselves to other cities but capturing the essence and unique qualities of our city and our very valuable collection of old growth remnant forests. We are typically doing the very opposite. We’re scraping away the good, disguised as “visionary”, and building what we see other cities doing in place of trees and greenspaces. It’s no wonder that Ryan Gravel left the Beltline if this is an example of carrying out his vision. This project looks more like the failed structures in New York City 50’s before they began to get smarter.

    Ponce City Market is an undeniable success of taking a big industrial site and converting it to trendy commerce. But it is light years from the real estate located next to Piedmont Park. Street width, sidewalks, clear views, all of Ponce is wide open for visibility- quite the opposite of the Monroe and 10th. It’s a bustling intersection of neighborhoods, groceries, schools, movie theaters and restaurants all closely knit together and coincidentally next to the Beltline. That’s the key element. And it’s got every developer salivating over how to get to it. So they’ve land swapped the other end of Piedmont Park, closer to the Botanical Gardens, Ansley Mall, and the smaller businesses that surround the area? They want to clear cut the one thing that we have (had?) better than anyone else- our trees. They want to throw the community and our world class trees under the bus claiming a vision?

    The Beltline was a great concept attributed to Ryan Gravel and the team that brought it to fruition. Now it’s being diluted with over zealous development and without any tree and/or community protection, no solution for traffic problems, laying flat the once canopied parks with impervious and semi-impervious (grass) for bandstands, devoid of the old historic trees that made Atlanta unique. Most Atlantans I mention this to had NO idea the city is clear cutting historic Grant Park Trees and wants to do the same to Piedmont park. Not to forget the around-the-corner razed historic trees on Bobby Jones Golf Course. People are too busy trying to keep up with the fast paced economy that requires robocop agility. They almost always stop and say, “What?” I think that’s what we are doing here. What?

    As to the “vision”, we can do much better. Find another site more like the Sears Building. And please, leave our parks alone.Report

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  6. Klindo says:

    Kudos to Saporta Report for allowing the columnist to voice his opinion, which in my opinion gets 2 thumbs down. If one loves ATL, the BeltLine, & Piedmont Park, then one intuitively understands that this intersection does not need greater density. Alas, the human thirst for profit trumps rational thought. There are plenty options and chances to “live, shop, eat” in LA (lovely Atlanta ~ hat tip to Art Terrell). We don’t need more consumption options at this location. We need this open space to activate our bodies and spirits while enjoying some semblance of nature. #save10thandmonroeReport

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  7. Betty says:

    You plan to rezone and tear down single family homes. That alone keeps me up at night. Once your project sets that precedent the neighborhood won’t be able to stop the next one….so I guess we’ll have to stop you. If you’ve only been in town for 15 years, you won’t remember the highways we’ve stopped and the other inappropriate developments like the cotton club. We can do it again!Report

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  8. Truth says:

    If you want to build dense development on the Beltline in a busy part of town I’m not going to argue against that. But, you can’t just talk about the promise of transit coming “some day.” You have to put some skin in the game and help fund it. If you don’t want to spend the money to help fund transit on the Beltline, then you should have to live with the existing zoning. As a developer you are asking something significant of the surrounding neighborhoods and you should be ready to make a significant contribution to offsetting the negative side-effects of your development.Report

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  9. heath says:

    Mr. Kegley – I appreciate you sharing your “vision” for 10th & Monroe, and be willing to open yourself up to the criticism that is likely to follow as you must be well aware by now that your “vision” is probably not shared by the majority of people who actually reside in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding your planned project.

    I am one of those residents. I have lived on Cooledge Avenue – directly across from your property – for the past 20 years. I am an Atlanta native who moved to Virginia Highland from Buckhead at a time when Midtown and Piedmont Park were still kind of “sketchy” but full of interesting characters, because I wanted to live in a residential area of town where I could walk to various amenities. I remember when trains actually used the beltline, Monroe was seldom full of traffic, and the commercial portion of the property you now control was vibrant with a mix of businesses occupying the space. I also remember when the Beltline was first proposed and Wayne Mason purchased the majority of the eastside right of way land from Norfolk Southern before the city could get its act together and start buying up land. I remember how he proposed building almost 40 story buildings overlooking Piedmont Park adjacent to your property, and how the Virginia Highland community came together to fight off this proposal. I also remember how the Virginia Highland community spent countless hours working on the Beltline Master Plan for SubArea 6 where numerous properties along the Beltline in our neighborhood (Amsterdam Walk, Georgia Power property off Ponce Place, and all the property between Ponce Place and the Beltline between Virginia and Ponce) would eventually be redeveloped for higher density mixed use developments (because there was going to be a transit portion to the Beltline that would provide a transportation alternative to all of these new neighborhood residents so that they would not have to put additional cars on the increasingly overburdened local streets). And finally, I remember how during these Beltline Masterplan discussions, the Virginia Highland community was vehement in its opposition to the rezoning of ANY SINGLE FAMILY PROPERTIES (on Monroe or otherwise).

    You claim to have lived in Midtown for 15 years and “share your neighbors love of the residential areas” and realize that “greater density isn’t right in every location”. Well, if this were true, you would realize that what sets Atlanta apart from many other cities are our unique neighborhoods (and all the trees). You would realize that while Virginia Highland and Midtown share some similarities, they are very different areas – Midtown has the denser developments that you so desire, but also has the infrastructure in place to handle them (MARTA, close proximity to interstates, a grid street pattern which provides different points of access). Virginia Highland does not. Virginia Highland is more similar to Inman Park, and more suitable for handling the types of developments that have sprung up along Highland Avenue and the Beltline – not what you are proposing. Again, if you truly shared your “neighbors” love of the residential area, you would have been well aware of “your neighbors” opposition to rezoning single family properties and inappropriate developments when you began buying up these properties over 10 years ago. You would have been well aware that the Virginia Highland community was not against higher density mixed used developments along the beltline (including the addition of affordable housing) as the community had already signed off on the above aforementioned rezonings to the neighborhood where increased density will eventually occur. You would also be aware of the traffic nightmare that Monroe Drive has become at the intersection of 10th Street, the Beltline and Virginia, that one child has already lost her life here, and that your proposal would only make the situation here worse! But I am afraid that you do not share these same thoughts. For if you had, your proposals over the past 10 years would’ve become more inline with the surrounding neighborhoods’ long-held desire for maintaining its single family integrity. Instead, they have become grander, larger, taller and more out of scale to the surrounding area – A Krog Street Market or Ponce City Market as you stated! What had once been a residential proposal has morphed into a high rise hotel, grocery store, condos, apartments, affordable housing – whatever might win over support from city hall irregardless of the neighborhood’s concern. And to top it all off, you have now brought in Fuqua who is the antithesis of smart neighborhood related developments!!!

    I know a lot of people throughout the city may look at this area as a prime location for high density development as it sits at the intersection of the Beltline and a major thoroughfare, overlooking our city’s greatest park and in the shadow of the Midtown high rises. But how many of those people, you included, actually live in this area? How many of those people actually have to navigate Monroe and/or 10th Street and this busy intersection on a daily basis? You state that your project’s greater density will “offer more people – and a greater diversity of people – the chance to live, shop, eat and otherwise enjoy a great urban location”. But why must your project address these things? Are there not already countless new residential buildings going up in Midtown and along the Beltline in areas such as O4W where new residents may live? Are there not already numerous parcels throughout Virginia Highland (Amsterdam Walk and off Ponce Place) that are already zoned to accommodate higher density residential developments? Will Midtown Promenade (Trader Joe’s) and Ansley Mall not one day be redeveloped with a mix of higher density residential and commercial spaces? Why is your piece of property so important to the future of higher density developments in Intown Atlanta that one of the city’s historic neighborhoods must allow the destruction of its single family homes to accommodate your “vision”?

    A lot of people throughout the city may share in your belief that if you “go to any great city’s greatest park and look around its periphery, you’ll see more dense development”. But is this really true? Perhaps if you go to New York or Chicago – but is that what we want Atlanta to become? (Without those city’s vast transportation infrastructures)? I would argue with you that your statement is at best a false equivalency, and that there are, in fact, more cities like Atlanta where their great city parks are surrounded by high density developments on only one side with low density residential on the others; Houston Memorial Park, Denver City Park, New Orleans City Park, Pittsburgh Frick Park are just a few. Even surrounding San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, you would be hard pressed to find a building over 5 stories. I believe a great comparison to Atlanta and Piedmont Park would be Boston and Boston Common. Boston Common is located in the heart of the city with the commercial and residential high rises of Downtown and the Copley Place neighborhoods on one side. But on the other two sides of Boston Common, you have the historic row houses and commercial structures of Beacon Hill and Back Bay. I find it very hard to imagine that Boston would ever allow the destruction of these historic residential neighborhoods to accommodate the inappropriate “vision” of a single developer who just happened to buy up several structures irregardless of their current zoning. I strongly believe that Atlanta should follow Boston’s precedent!Report

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  10. akafrankgreen says:

    If you really wanted to benefit the community and do something of lasting value, you’d donate the land for use as an extension of Piedmont Park. You’d be forever remembered in the ranks of Robert Woodruff, Diana Blank and Roberto Goizueta. Instead, you’re partnering with the developer of schlocky suburban shopping centers and fighting some of the most resilient neighborhoods in town. Looks to me like you haven’t really considered your legacy, just your pocketbook. – John Brown, Midtown.Report

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