Expanding Midtown’s Public Realm, One Experience At A Time
By Ansley Whipple, Midtown Alliance, Project Manager of Programming and Activation
A robust public life is an essential component to a thriving urban community. What does this look like? Activity at the street level that delights and invites you to linger, interact, and connect. Public events, programs, and installations that reinforce a sense of place and draw people together by reflecting the community’s imagination and responding to its needs. I recently came on board at Midtown Alliance to help bolster its commitment to public life by creating more things to do in public spaces. As a result, we’re planning for 2022 to be a banner year for engaging experiences throughout the district.
In February, Midtown Alliance conducted a survey to understand what kinds of activities people in Midtown most want to do and see in public spaces, and what excites them and captures their attention. We learned that daytime workers, residents and visitors are eager to reconnect after being separated because of the pandemic for the last two-plus years, and meeting outside feels particularly safe.
One thing we hear over and over is the desire for connecting around new and accessible food experiences. In response, we are capitalizing on the City of Atlanta’s new right-of-way food truck vending permit that allows food trucks to sell in select locations around the city on certain days and times. There are three new high-profile locations in Midtown, and on Food Truck Thursdays throughout the spring and summer, we will be highlighting a location with fun diversions including live music, games and colorful tables and chairs for temporary patio dining.
Our survey also showed that people who spend time in Midtown are very interested in visual arts and local history. This provides us with an opportunity to further develop our partnerships with nearby institutions such as the Woodruff Arts Center, Museum of Design Atlanta, and the Atlanta History Center. Collaborating with partners on special programs to bring the inside out is a strategic way to amplify resources and reach new audiences. We are discussing opportunities with these and other organizations and hope to make announcements soon.
To celebrate the opening of the newly renovated Arts District Plaza at 15th and Peachtree streets, we will host a series of free concerts in May. Dubbed “Jazz on the Plaza,” this event coincides with the Atlanta Jazz Festival’s 31 Days of Jazz and Colony Square’s upcoming ticketed Jazz in the Sky series. Join us each Tuesday in May from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
This summer will also see the opening of an expanded plaza space adjacent to Commercial Row, new parklets on Spring Street, and a newly renovated 10th Street Park featuring a dog park. Stay tuned for news about opening celebrations and ongoing programs that will ensure the success of these public gathering spots.
Midtown’s public spaces are meant to be enjoyed by everyone, and we welcome your continued feedback. We are always looking for ideas as we experiment with options for fun things to do and see that can compete with the myriad of shiny, new amenity decks behind the walls of booming developments. Midtown is incredibly rich with cultural institutions and culinary destinations; we would like to see more of these experiences expand into the public realm. This will enrich our neighborhood with opportunities to gather outside safely, reconnect in shared spaces, and build a more resilient community. Come out and experience it for yourself.