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MARTA dreams of converting dull to destination at King Memorial Station

grant street tunnel, 1

MARTA intends for the Grant Street Tunnel to be more inviting to the future residents and shoppers at the planned development of residences and shops that are to be built adjacent to MARTA's King Memorial Station. Credit: Kelly Jordan

By David Pendered

Now that MARTA has secured a deal to develop homes and shops next to the King Memorial Station, MARTA is seeking an artist to energize the tunnel that will be the only pedestrian route to the station from the planned development.

grant street tunnel, 1

MARTA intends for the Grant Street Tunnel to be more inviting to the future residents and shoppers at the planned development of residences and shops that are to be built adjacent to MARTA’s King Memorial Station. Credit: Kelly Jordan

The Grant Street Tunnel is a fairly uninviting pathway beneath the CSX railroad tracks. It shares none of the creative spirit evident in the street art that adorns the nearby Krog Street Tunnel.

MARTA intends to change that.

MARTA envisions an art installation in the tunnel that’s to be so inviting it will become a destination in and of itself. All this, in addition to providing access from the planned development to the trains and buses that serve King Memorial Station.

Here’s how MARTA describes the completed project. The Grant Street Tunnel is to:

  • “Create an exciting, visually engaging, and fun artwork that becomes a community landmark and enhances the pedestrian experience within the tunnel.
  • “Increase the light level in the tunnel, thereby increasing accessibility, so that pedestrians feel safe and confident while using the walkways.
  • “Artwork will affect the entire space and transform it so that people may choose to walk through the tunnel solely to experience the work.
    grant street, skateboard

    A MARTA bus pulls over to await a rider who’s already using his own form of alternate transportation. Credit: Kelly Jordan

  • “Design will be appropriately scaled to the site, with durable materials and parts. The selected artwork should be very low maintenance and follow MARTA criteria on material selection and durability. “

MARTA intends to move fairly swiftly on the project.

Artists have until Aug. 2 to submit their ideas to MARTA. MARTA is to review proposals and select a vendor. The project is due for completion by June 30, 2018.

The source of funding is not made clear in MARTA’s request for proposals. The document says simply that cost shall not exceed $100,000, for labor installation, materials and permitting fees, etc., “as required by the funding agency and/or MARTA.”

The process for selecting artists is to follow MARTA’s standard protocol.

A review team is to be assembled. Members are to include representatives of MARTA stakeholders, MARTA’s Art in Transit program manager, and at least three members of the local arts community as appointed by MARTA’s Advisory Council for the Arts.

grant street locator map

MARTA intends for a planned art installation at the Grant Street Tunnel to be so dynamic that the tunnel will become a destination in and of itself. Credit: MARTA, David Pendered

Three to five finalists are to be selected. Conference calls are to ensue with finalists, who are to explain their thoughts on topics ranging from materials selected to durability and logistics. A final interview with the presumed winner of the contract is to be conducted.

The project is due to be completed by June 30, 2018.

The project represents MARTA’s doubling down on its Art in Transit program at the King Memorial Station.

In June 2016, the first of a planned series of text-based murals was unveiled at the King Memorial Station. Four murals by artist Fahamu Pecou, a doctoral student at Emory University, are to be displayed at various stations throughout the transit system. The project is provided by a partnership including MARTA, WonderRoot, Fulton County Arts and Culture, and The TransFormation Alliance.

In March, MARTA announced a joint venture with Place Properties and H.J. Russell & Co. to build a transit oriented development at King Memorial Station.

The TOD is to provide 400 apartments, of which 80 are to be priced at rents affordable to those earning the salaries of schoolteachers. The retail component is to provide 10,000 square feet of space.

Groundbreaking is scheduled at some point after Oct. 1 and before then end of 2017. Completion is expected before the end of June 2018. The rapid rate of construction stems from most of the structure’s components being built off-site and transferred to the site for assembly.


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.


1 Comment

  1. amy green July 18, 2017 4:37 pm

    As of this morning there was water gushing out of the eastern wall of the underpass. Stepped through mud and over a used prophylactic as I walked through to marta. Looking forward to Summer 2018!Report


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