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MARTA attracts interest in devising plans for two suburban stations

Abernathy Greenway Park, in Sandy Springs. (File/Photo courtesy of Sandy Springs Conservancy.)

By David Pendered

The Collaborative, a Boston urban planning firm, sent its CEO to Atlanta to learn more about MARTA’s intent to hire a consultant to create master plans to guide future development around two stations at the ends of its East-West line.

The Collaborative was among a handful of firms represented at a conference MARTA hosted on Dec. 6, 2021, according to the attendance sheet. The firm is known for its work in cities including Boston, San Francisco and New York.

Sandy Springs was another client. The Collaborative designed the city’s Abernathy Greenway Park, the 6.6-acre linear park that opened in 2014 and provides passive and active greenspace along Johnson Ferry and Abernathy roads.

The interest in the two MARTA stations, from the Collaborative and companies including HKS, TSW and Lord Aeck Sargent, may underscore the market’s ongoing appetite for building walkable communities in suburban settings. MARTA is seeking to hire one consultant to develop master plans for the H.E. Holmes and Indian Creek stations.

This live-work-play concept has proven to be durable in the region. The Atlanta Regional Commission has fostered scores of them through its Livable Centers Initiative. Urban planner Chris Leinberger tracked them in his national series of WalkUP reviews, referring to Walkable Urban Places. Leinberger reported on Atlanta’s WalkUPs in 2012.

To be determined is how the concept may play out as the pandemic becomes endemic, and as the market cools.

The Atlanta Federal Reserve reported Dec. 1, 2021, a noticeable slowing in residential purchases. “[H]ousing demand moderated further from the record highs experienced over the past year,” the Atlanta Fed reported in the latest Beige Book.

MARTA shelved plans in October 2021 to develop mixed use communities around stations in Midtown and Downtown Atlanta. MARTA’s Board of Directors voted Oct. 14, 2021, to rescind awards for development at its Arts Center and Peachtree Center stations. The board halted the projects after years of discussions had not resulted in construction.

MARTA’s purpose at the Dec. 1 meeting was to share its vision for crafting master plans for potential transit-oriented developments at the H.E. Holmes and Indian Creek stations, located at the western and eastern ends of the Blue Line, respectively.

MARTA is seeking comprehensive master plans for the two sites. The request for proposals (RFP) cites the following the components should be included in the plans:

  • Placement of buildings, heights and transitions to surrounding sites
  • Mixture of uses, with number of dwelling and non-residential uses
  • Diverse housing recommendations
  • Parking for vehicles including recommendations for overall parking needs
  • A detailed circulation plan including street locations and typical cross-sections identifying vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian connections within a half mile of the station area as well as connectivity to surrounding development sites
  • Other necessary infrastructure to support the desired redevelopment concept plan

Companies have until Feb. 2 to submit their proposals. MARTA intends to hire one company, or a joint venture, to devise separate plans for each station, according to the RFP.

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David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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2 Comments

  1. Cassandra Holbrook January 14, 2022 10:21 am

    I don’t entirely understand the emphasis on creating ‘mixed use development’ at intown stations like North Avenue or Midtown. It’s already mixed use. Nor do we need re-branding, or new trains, as far as I can see. We need more intown stations to service more areas, and likely a . Subway stations do not all have to impress, they are mostly utilitarian. Take any successful large metro, NYC for example, most station are simply points of entry/exit with room to wait on a platform. They don’t have artwork or impressive sculpture. A few do. We need more ridership, and to gain that, more stops. I love taking MARTA trains, but it only goes about 3 places I go–definitely need more East-West service.Report

    Reply
  2. Marvin Greer January 17, 2022 7:39 am

    I appreciate the article on the expansion of MARTA and would like to see its expansion to the Cascade Road and Campbellton Road areas. As Vice Chairman of NPU -P we have been working with a land owner to attract more mix use development to our neighborhoods and a extension of the blue line would be a perfect fit. He owns 400 acres that runs parallel to the heavy rail line along Kimberly Road between Cascade and Melvin Drive, a great place for a Cascade transit station and the creation of a mixed use development.
    Let’s discuss MARTA!!!Report

    Reply

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