Proposed project on fragile BeltLine site at Monroe and 10th raises concerns

By Maria Saporta

One of the most complicated intersections in Atlanta – where the BeltLine intersects with 10th Street and Monroe Drive – will face even more challenges with a new proposed development on an adjacent 4-acre site.

The plans for the redevelopment became public in December when the Invest Atlanta board approved a memo-of-understanding to sell a 1.47 acre strip of land along the BeltLine to a joint venture of Jim Kegley and Jeff Fuqua for $2.5 million.

rendering

Proposed concept for development at Monroe and 10th streets (Special: Invest Atlanta)

The plans presented at the meeting showed an 11-story hotel with 150 rooms, 351 residential units with 30 percent of them affordable, a 20,000-square-foot grocery store, additional retail and restaurant space as well as 745 parking spaces.

The sale is conditional on the developer getting the property rezoned from single-family to allow for a higher density development.

And the rezoning process will trigger a rigorous public participation process to determine the future of the site – a process that could determine which priorities Atlanta will adopt as it adds population and development.

Already, the impacted neighborhoods around the site (just northeast of the Park Tavern) have pushed back against the proposed plans.

That is not surprising given the history of the site.

site map

Site map shows strip of land that Invest Atlanta has agreed to sell to Jim Kegley and Jef Fuqua (Special: Invest Atlanta)

Back in 2008, the city purchased 4.5 miles for the Atlanta BeltLine’s eastside trail for $66 million – largely because of the controversy over a proposal by former owner Wayne Mason and Trammell Crow Residential to build two towers – one 38 stories and the other 39 stories – on this very site.

Every development proposal since then has been unable to garner needed city and community support to become a reality.

Kegley, however, hopes he will have a different result. He and his partners have been buying up land on the triangular site since 2005, and they now own more than a dozen homes, several low-rise buildings along Monroe Drive as well as tree-covered land that abuts the BeltLine trail.

“From a building standpoint, we are still a blank canvas,” said Kegley, who promised to work with the neighborhood and other stakeholders about the development plans for the property. He referred to the proposal presented at the Invest Atlanta meeting as “a placeholder.”

Community leaders have reacted strongly to the proposal that had been presented at Invest Atlanta.

aerial view

An aerial view of the proposed development (Special: Invest Atlanta)

“Midtown isn’t in support of this project as it is currently proposed,” said Anthony Rizzuto, president of the Midtown Neighbor’s Association. “We were never brought into to the process.”

Most importantly, Rizzuto said it is one of the most “sensitive” sites along the BeltLine because it is next to single-family homes.

Those single-family homes are part of the Virginia-Highland community, which has expressed strong concerns about the original proposal.

“There needs to be a complete re-evaluation of what is realistic,” said Jenifer Keenan, co-chair of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association Planning Committee who lives near the proposed project. “An 11-story hotel is a non-starter. Having 745 parking spaces seems untenable. And this is one of the most dangerous and congested intersections in the entire city.”

trees

Google Map view shows the cluster of old-growth trees on the site (Google maps)

Keenan said the proposed development is not consistent with what had been proposed in the BeltLine’s “Subarea 6” master plan, which had included widespread community participation. A land-used map shows the site as being single-family with medium and higher density along the BeltLine on the east side of Monroe Drive.

Keenan noted that the BeltLine Redevelopment Plan stated that “the majority of residents favor the retention of of this site as greenspace.”  She added that “this proposal is contrary to all the planning that’s taken place.”

Councilmember Jennifer Ide, who represents the district and has heard from her constituents, said she’s trying to remain open minded. She met with Kegley on Friday to tour the site and hear his thoughts.

“Monroe is a busy, dangerous road, and that is a dangerous intersection,” Ide said. “It’s already a problem, and to add more development there without some relief would be a concern.”

City councilmembers Amir Farokhi and Matt Westmoreland deferred to Ide, but they also expressed concern.

Westmoreland said the area already has plenty of grocery stores, and it doesn’t need a 700-space garage.

Jim Kegley

Jim Kegley gives a personal tour of his tree-covered property (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“I’m a firm believer in preserving single-family residences,” Westmoreland said. “We just spent a year going through the City Design process. And it placed a high level of importance in protecting Atlanta’s tree canopy, and I share that desire.”

Kegley did not know how many trees would be cut down for the development, but he acknowledged that nearly all of them would have to go.

“My gut tells me it’s going to be very difficult to save the trees and do anything of consequence,” Kegley said. “This site demands something iconic.”

But Kegley said everything is on the table except his commitment to have nearly one-third of the units being set aside for affordable housing.

“The interest in creating affordable units at the city level is going to drive density. The trees probably don’t survive,” said Kegley, who added they are entering the process with their eyes wide open.

During a tour of the property, Kegley proudly pointed out that it is an incredible site on a hill with great views of Midtown and the park. But few people even know the site is there.

single-family homes

Row of single family homes along Monroe Drive that Kegley has acquired that would be torn down for the redevelopment (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“How do you invite more people to be able to have this experience? How do we create something that’s accessible to everybody,” Kegley said. “For us, this will be our legacy project. I want to leave something that people would say: ‘Wow.’”

But designing such a project with community buy-in will be a delicate balancing act.

“In my opinion, there’s a very small margin of error for a project in this location – if it’s going to be done right,” Farokhi said. “In theory, you want to avoid super-high density next to single-family homes. And we should be mindful of the value that old growth trees have in our city. First and foremost, Virginia-Highland residents need to be heard.”

Another wrinkle is that when this land deal got the greenlight from Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta announced it was purchasing about 5 acres at Monroe and Piedmont to expand Piedmont Park to the north.

Coincidentally the BeltLine land-use plan calls for that property to be designated for medium- to high-density development.

The irony was not lost on Keenan, who asked rhetorically: “Why put density where it has not been called for (10th and Monroe) and get rid of density where it was called for (Monroe and Piedmont)?”

Why indeed.

Jim Kegley

Jim Kegley shows the view of his property from the roof of one of his buildings along Monroe Drive (Photo by Maria Saporta)

land-use map

Master plan shows the land-use map for this leg of the BeltLine (Special: Atlanta BeltLine Inc.’s Subarea study)

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.

42 replies
  1. Steve Hagen says:

    I don’t live in that area but 11 story next to single family is way beyond the worse land use allowed in any city! I moved here from Miami and they are the capital of greedy developers and even they would not allow more than thtee story next to single family….Report

    Reply
    • Melanie Bass Pollard says:

      Having worked with several tree preservation organizations throughout Atlanta for past few years, I have been appalled by our rampant negligence and indifference towards the living organisms we hold dear, or did, here in Atlanta. As if their services are no longer needed. We are fooling ourselves if we think that this is going to be good for future health and greenspaces OR frankly, good for Piedmont Park future tree health. Trees die much slower than humans. We won’t be around to see many of them decline prematurely. Trees in Georgia only have 3-4 inches of top soil on top of highly viscous clay. That means they must go much further for the over-generalized CRZ formulas commonly used in tree ordinances and zoning codification throughout the country. The pre-chemical farmers of the 30’s understood the meaning behind $5 hole for $1 plant. What this developer proposes to do is going to affect the root systems and “wood wide web” of mycorrihizae that is the living network beneath and what fuels our tree communities within at least a mile radius if not 2-3. And that’s just what’s below.

      In the areas surrounding Buckhead, Brookhaven, Decatur, the North Druid Hills corridor, we are seeing exactly what that means above. Trees come down with every storm with the increased winds and torrential “100” year storms of 8-12 inches of high-velocity water flowing up and down our hilly, denuded streets. It’s entirely predictable when you examine carefully the changes that have occurred in the areas over the last 20 years where clear cutting has removed literally 100’s of acres of land to be replaced with maximized footprint and height homes, puny understory, non-native trees and alien plants that feed nothing but our idealogy built from HGTV shows or Architectural Digest of exotic collections assembled for beauty alone. What has resulted is that with every storm, at least one tree fails to wind velocity, most often those recently impacted by root disturbance, soil compaction, lost partners (trees hold together during storms), soil erosion and/or lack of stormwater drainage. In many cases, it’s the weight of English Ivy- up to a ton- that the tree can no longer support. The trees are failing because we create the conditions for premature failure. This rate of failure is increasing as evidenced by the many more now that fall with each storm. And with the clear-cutting, the evidence is clear too: tree-lined streets and homes are exposed to heavy winds that were once buffered by forests. I have witnessed this slow building increase in tree failure over the last 20 years of high-impact development surrounding my neighborhood.

      It is not sustainable since we cannot plant these trees back. With destroyed soils, they will never grow again to their size and health that they were allowed to do when the Creek Indians owned these lands that still fragment our streets today with patches of old growth trees and the tell-tale indicator plants beneath. Old not in the sense of ready to go, but old having been here for 100s of years. And many able to live here for hundreds more if allowed or understood. It’s why we no longer see the magnificent forests of the 1700-1800’s. We have pushed them out into the B/W photos of the past.

      I find it utterly confusing how we claim this Beltline dream of walkable city that intends to become less car centric and bring more greenspace equity into the streets. Yet we build the very thing that does the opposite. In areas already congested, where young people have died due compressed traffic conditions we propose a more parking spaces, remove the trees, sky scrapers built to hide the green beauty and isolate people inside these towers? We clear cut our parks and build parking garages and grassy knolls to honor the caged animals and music bandstands? We are not leaving enough room for life.

      So, with this development creeps the end of beautiful mature trees of the majestic size and volume we’ve taken for granted for many decades since air conditioning began to replace our appreciation of the cool respite of leafy breezes for this illusion of beauty. At the end of the day, we all need these trees. We know this. Yet we kick the can to the next rural community, the next neighborhood further out, the next country. It takes 2 specimen trees for one person to breathe healthy air. Where are we going to get that air if we cut them down for apartment buildings, parking lots and sidewalks? What will it cost? We have no ocean breeze by which to push our heat sink, carbon rich air through. Our climate depends upon these trees. Not the crepe myrtle, cryptomeria, and weeping willow. But the magnificent White Oak that feeds over 500 insect species and our migrating bird populations of this hemisphere. Or the Tulip Poplar, or the American Beech whose skin reminds that they are truly the Elephants of our Plant Kingdom.

      Those who conceive of consequence, might consider what that truly means – not just in their life span, but in the life span of today’s children and their children that will be lucky to see a Beech that takes 200 years to reach maturity. I am fortunate to be the custodian of a 180-200 year old specimen Beech for the last 20 years whose outstanding roots reach out into my terrace changing its shape slowly and reminding me that this mother tree has been here much longer than us and if spared indifference, may just well be here for another 100-150 years or more.Report

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        • Kathy Wolfe says:

          The above commentary by Melanie echoes my thoughts to a T. I couldn’t agree more. I am not against well thought out development but this constant clear cutting of our beautiful trees for more and more density – we are headed toward a cookie cutter city where every corner looks the same and the beautiful old trees are all gone in place of Bradford Pears and the like. It was unconscionable in my opinion to let the Grant Park development with parking spaces and amphitheater so close to living animals and the neighborhood go forward despite protests… this sounds like more of the same.Report

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        • poetpeteet says:

          Thanks for covering this,it seems the city now will put up parking lots and take down trees anywhere and everywhere they see a dollar to gain.
          Melanie Bass Pollard’s comment above is an acurate account of what I have seen living here the past 60 years.I live now in the shadow of 4 story condos built where a forest stood for most of my life.I hope the neighborhood finds a way to stop this but I can tell them to expect the city government and the mayor’s office will do all in their power to build it-so expect a hard fight.
          We need a real tree protection ordinance,and actual enforcement along with replanting or we will have to watch the canopy shrink to the density of the one over Dallas,Texas.Most developers I have talked to have no problem with that,and if they were truthful most of the city government wouldn’t either.Forest to them is just what’s in the way of the next “legacy,iconic project”.
          If you want to save what’s left of our forest we have to change our local government.Report

          Reply
          • Melanie Bass Pollard says:

            poetpeteet,

            Agreed! Our local government career politicians move on up the government ladder to become even more powerful so, if we want them to represent us, we must show up to let them know what we want and that we are paying attention. Packed city halls that continually show up will be much more likely to get good representation. There are groups working to strengthen the tree ordinances across the metro area but they work independent and 100% volunteer. 1,000’s of hours. It’s hard work since refining those documents is like playing chess for months straight. But essential.

            Most of the metro area ordinances have loopholes that let developers have choices. And county TO’s are even weaker. As a result, many of those loopholes dilute the effectiveness. Brookhaven’s TO claims 45-48% canopy but only effectively protects 6.8% when you examine wording such as “And/Or”. And City of Atlanta’s Tree ordinance is almost zero when you exclude the near 80% residential, 11% industrial, and the 2.5% park recreational. And last year’s break in protecting park easements by the 12-2 Yays at City Hall on May 5th, set precedents that essentially reduced potential tree protection from 2.5% to zero. There were 5 people present, myself included, that spoke up for the park trees that day. Five. In a city of 472,522. In the middle of the day on a Monday. That is not a democratic vote. Government is run by those who show up. imho.Report

  2. Marti Breen says:

    Thanks, Maria, for exposing this to your readership. The process that Invest Atlanta used to sell this land to the developer was suspect, at best. The loss of trees on this site uphill from Park Tavern and the lawn/open space across from the Grady Stadium will cause even more flooding of this lawn which regularly has to be replanted.

    I agree with the two earlier comments that there is little positive and an overwhelming number of negatives surrounding this proposal–surely there is a better way to ensure a few affordable units than sacrificing our single family neighborhoods, old growth trees, and causing yet another traffic nightmare on Monroe.Report

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  3. J says:

    Marti and others- I totally agree! Invest Atlanta had no business selling this piece of land without community input and support which by the way, they would never have received! That intersection and Monroe and 10th in their entirety are completely overburdened and adding 745 parking spaces, retail, and an 11 story housing building would lead to absolute gridlock,not to mention additional pedestrian injuries and possible deaths! I hope that everyone hearing about this will do everything in their power to prevent this. Jennifer Ide- I voted for you and you should not have an open mind about this. Please stand with the community and oppose this with all the power you can muster!Report

    Reply
  4. Dianne Olansky says:

    As NPU F Chair during the original Mason proposal and the subsequent years of Master Planning, I want to say that keeping the existing stock of single family homes in our well established intown neighborhoods has always been the centerpiece for NPU F’s future. Protecting the integrity of our neighborhoods is essential to a vibrant Atlanta.Report

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  5. John Black says:

    Unbelievable that this proposal is even being considered! I lived a quarter mile from the site when Wayne Mason proposed his monstrosity. The neighborhood and the City did the right thing back then (though Mr. Mason made out well financially). I hope they will act intelligently this time, too, and prevent this inappropriate development proposal.

    Great article, Maria.Report

    Reply
  6. Ben says:

    I live nearby on the park side of Orme Cir and while I am okay with development here, I cannot support this one. There is something very fishy about the underlying land deal. At the same time the city purchased about 5 acres around Monroe/Piedmont for $100 million ($20M per acre), the city sold this 1.5 acres for $2.5 million ($1.7M per acre). Why would anyone support a development proposal based on a corrupt process? Can we start over with transparency and neighborhood input?Report

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  7. intownexpert says:

    I truly hope Jennifer Ide sticks to her campaign promises as this is not smart development that takes into consideration the neighborhood. As both a resident and business owner in this vicinity, this plan is terrible. This is one of the worst intersections in the area already, and cannot handle this kind of volume. Additionally, this kind of density is just not appropriate for this area of the park. And the trees… I agree with the posters above. I really hope that the NPU can stand up to this.Report

    Reply
  8. akafrankgreen says:

    This is purely a profit play by Kegley and Fuqua. Kegley’s been shopping this around for years, first approaching Carter and then being turned down. Fuqua is perhaps the city’s most opportunistic developer.

    Maria’s article and the points of the commenters are spot-on. One item no one’s addressing is Fuqua’s dismal record of quality, in-town development. His projects are centered on the car-centric high-volume traffic count developments that chain retailers depend upon (Publix, Mattress King, Sprint, etc…). They are not focused on adding benefit to the quality of life (reduction in traffic, heightened property value, walkability, tree canopy preservation, etc) of the surrounding neighborhoods.

    For additional consideration is former Mayor Kasim Reed’s obsession with maximizing the affordable housing count prior to his exit from office. While affordable housing is a much needed and much desired element, it is neither detailed nor described in this proposal — beyond mention. Is it market rate? Is it below market rate? (consider the Midtown market’s rates….!) Is it subsidized? I suspect InvestAtlanta jumped on this to further the former Mayor’s agenda without considering Alex Wan and Jen Ide’s requests that they delay approval of the land sale.

    Another consideration would be is the type development needed at this location? There are 8 grocery stores with a mile of this site. Perhaps 4-5 hotels. Apartments galore at Old Fourth Ward. Add the traffic generated by this type land use to a Monroe Drive that’s slated for a “traffic calming” and you have a greatly diminished east/west artery as well as north/south link.

    By its proximity to Piedmont Park and the Beltline, it’s location at the junction of historic Midtown and Virginia-Highland, this is a special location, worthy of more than “placeholder” design schematics. The plan is insulting to those of us who moved here to escape suburban, cookie-cutter cityscape. We need to fight to save our neighborhoods. This must be stopped.

    John T. Brown, Jr.
    MidtownReport

    Reply
    • Melanie Bass Pollard says:

      John, Excellent points and agreed upon whole-heartedly. I hope you’ll be included in the community discussions and NPU – which is so often compromised. The NPU was essentially “gagged” to operate effectively with Peachtree Hills Park, once agreements were made with Isakson Living and Ashton Woods, who later successfully externalized their stormwater costs to the taxpayers, community and regularly flooding Peachtree Creek and park. With no environmental study. Costs like this should REQUIRE extensive, ethical, objective environmental studies with projected cost analysis of stormwater maintenance not just for 2-5 years but for projected 25 year growth. Retention ponds have a 99% failure rate and often become civil matters for communities with their specific point in time. Something I learned the hard and expensive way in Brookhaven. And with extreme weather affecting Atlanta’s feasibility for the Super Bowl location, its worthwhile to examine the weather impact of removing so many trees. Wind, stormwater velocity, soil erosion, etc are all tied to high-impact development. In perpetuity.

      The plans for this development resemble, to me, some of the developer plans for New York city back in the 50’s and 60’s. Jane Jacobs successfully stood down the top dog, Robert Moses, and is why we have Soho, Flat Iron district, and Greenwich Village today. Many of the “affordable housing” solutions built then, were complete failures with the isolation they created for communities. In other words, the neighborhood “eyes” were removed and crime exploded. Atlanta is plagued with “imperious city planning czars” and fatigued public advocacy activists. We need politicians who can stand up for what is right and sound without the opportunism that has dirtied the beauty of Ryan Gravel’s concept. And those politicians need our faces and voices. After all, if the Beltline concept is about a walkable city, why do we need so many parking spaces? Its it so that these developers will own the “real estate” that can earn dollars now and be torn down in the future for more condos and apartments in the future? Is that why so many storage units are going up along these potentially high value properties in the early stages of beltline-buildout opportunism? It has little to do with need. It’s all about money and marketing. I hold the previous ATL administration for pushing this through at the end of 2017. Shame on them for putting lives, communities and old growth forests at risk and burdening the community with more advocacy fatigue.

      Read about the Jane Jacobs history at:
      http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/jane-jacobs-fought-urban-renewal-west-village-article-1.2962679
      https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2017/04/jane-jacobs-citizen-jane-documentary

      Special thanks to Maria Saporta for her sponsored “Citizen Jane” film showing, ironically shown near the area of discussion at the Landmark Midtown Cinema.
      http://www.altimeterfilms.com/citizen-jane-battle-for-the-city/

      It’s important for us all to know about Jane Jacobs. The name Robert Moses? Not so much. Of course, pulitzer prize winning Robert Caro’s book “Power Broker” on the failure of NYC from that time period, did not not mention Ms. Jacobs. One of many examples of why we have a women’s movement….. Had to slide that one in there… 🙂

      But we should examine what occurred in those decades and not repeat the same mistake in Atlanta. We do not have an ocean breeze and our stormwater travels faster than Houstons.Report

      Reply
  9. Paul says:

    This is a horrible idea that benefits no one but the developers who are planning it. It reminds me of the ill-conceived plan years ago to put a sewage treatment plant on the corner of 10th and Monroe, against which area residents mobilized and which was defeated. Let’s take that land and turn it into further greenspace. One day we will be glad we did.Report

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  10. Sharon Ferguson says:

    This is Kasim Reed’s kiss to Fuqua, his own ‘place holder’ for future support when he decides what his next political office will be. It stinks of corruption from start to finish, with a highly suspect ‘sale’ (an actual giveaway) of prime public land and InvestAtlanta signing off on it without a plan, a zoning or any of the usual requirements. Thanks, Reed, for one more rotten deal and to Keisha Lance Bottoms for faithfully following through. Business as usual.

    The Beltline people have – with Reed’s blessing – been ignoring the ‘affordable housing’ requirement in using public land since the developers came calling with their flimsy excuses and their maxed-out profit plans. Since Reed’s stooges got caught in this failure, Reed decided he had to pump up the ‘affordable’ numbers so he could claim them in his next run. Invest Atlanta is supposed to be in the business of supporting development in underserved areas, not in the most over-developed, competitive parts of town.

    Monroe Drive is already dangerously past the point of breakdown. Reed’s idea was to make it worse by imposing a “road diet’ on the neighborhood, taking away travel lanes and forcing the traffic into unprotected neighborhood streets so he could claim environmental credit while actually doing nothing but tripling travel time and endangering lives. The traffic stems largely from the City’s absolute failure to control or improve roadways to accommodate the rampant development in the Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park and Edgewood neighborhoods or to ease congestion on the Downtown Connector, which Monroe allows them to circumvent.

    There are three highly stressed intersections on Monroe within a mile of each other, from Piedmont through Amsterdam to Tenth Street. Two of them – at Piedmont and at Monroe – are among the top ten most accident-prone in the state. Additionally, the Beltline crosses Monroe at Tenth Street, the Tenth Street bike lane has infringed upon traffic flow, and both Grady High School and Piedmont Park abut that intersection, guaranteeing heavy pedestrian use as well. There is also a substantial apartment development within a half block of the intersection that offers housing that is affordable.

    The idea of putting a development of this size in a single family zoned neighborhood on top of a volatile intersection like Monroe at Tenth, all with the stink of corruption permeating every step, is appalling. It is not in the public interest, only in that of the rapacious developers whose greed makes everyone else expendable and the politicians and the yes-men they appoint to ‘public boards’ like Invest Atlanta. It is a testament to the ubiquity of corruption in Atlanta that this was ever even considered.

    Time to invalidate the sale and throw out the entire Invest Atlanta board, and to petition the City for the same relief – a total moratorium on development – that Buckhead has received pending the comprehensive traffic/transit plan that should have been put in place before developers were allowed to overwhelm existing neighborhoods.Report

    Reply
    • Ben says:

      Amen to this entire response. The Piedmont Park annex was a “look over here!” to avoid focus on this atrocity.
      And they are getting away with it unless we speak up – thanks to all for the opposing responses – spread the word!Report

      Reply
  11. Steve Hagen says:

    Please understand that my comment, which happened to be the first, was directed only toward what might be acceptable up next to single family homes. I failed to realize that this forest had been publically held!!! I failed to consider the failed streets!!! The sale was a scam!!! Save this forest!!! Hire an attorney!!!Report

    Reply
    • Melanie Bass Pollard says:

      Steve, you do great advocacy work and I understood completely where you were coming from. We can’t all know the finer nuances of the local issues. But I understand you walk the talk. The post I originally shared in this thread yesterday has been removed. There were others who liked my comments, and said as much. It is purely opinion and not meant to harm in any way but to bring understanding and perspective on the inherent problems we face with tree conservation in this country and in hopes that we can understand better what is truly happening to our city and putting Atlanta’s future at risk. If anyone would like to read that post, you can find it at the Facebook page for Atlanta Protects Trees. We have to wonder about that name – right? And ask ourselves, “They do?”.Report

      Reply
  12. Tamara Jones says:

    The only way this would be even remotely feasible from a traffic perspective is for Charles Allen through the park to be re-opened to vehicular traffic. I don’t see that happening.Report

    Reply
  13. heath says:

    Maria – thank you so much for this thorough article on the proposals at 10th & Monroe, and for engaging so many different parties for their thoughts. This proposal has been lingering out there for many years. Infact, David Pendered wrote an article here probably three years ago regarding the same thing. During that time, despite continued neighborhood opposition to the rezoning of single family property along Monroe and Cresthill, nothing has really changed on the developer’s proposal except for the recent inclusion of Fuqua into the mix and the continued worsening of traffic conditions along this stretch of Monroe at the Beltline. And given Fuqua’s history with intown developments, I would say his inclusion only makes things worse!

    I am not one normally drawn into conspiracy theories, but I would really like to see someone at your organization do some “investigating” into the simultaneous announcement by the mayor regarding 10th & Monroe and the expansion of Piedmont Park and the Botanical Gardens at Monroe & Piedmont. I am all for expansion of parkland in Atlanta, but this particular purchase seems very “fishy” to me, especially its timing! Perhaps the purchase of all the commercial property along Piedmont and Monroe near Ansley Mall had been in discussions for months. But if so, why does the developer of this property continue to pour millions of $$ into its redevelopment, knowing the city is likely to buy it, only for city to have to pay a higher premium for it and eventually tear it down? Why is the city buying up “Commercial” land along the Beltline and Piedmont Park, along a transportation corridor that is already designed for greater density to turn into parkland, while at the same time considering turning single family property, vacant property with many old growth trees, and underutilized commercial property into higher density developments in a location along Monroe that can not handle it? Why doesn’t the Botanical Garden buy up the storage facility along Piedmont to expand their property without the city having to buy up the commercial properties at Monroe & Piedmont for expanded parkland? While the former mayor touts these as one large project, you can see from the renderings that they are infact two separate projects separated by the Beltline! And finally, the former mayor says the purchase of the land and redevelopment costs at Piedmont and Monroe will total $100 million with the city contributing $20 million and the rest coming from private donations through a fundraising campaign. But of that initial $20 million coming from the city, $2 million of that has already been contributed by an anonymous donor. Who is the anonymous donor? I am sure that $2 million, and any of the remaining $80 million to be raised will in no way be tied to the redevelopment of 10th & Monroe!Report

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    • Melanie Bass Pollard says:

      Well said, Heath! Thank you for writing and asking Maria for this continued coverage. Her articles have helped shed light on our city and will hopefully encourage public engagement and discussions at the dinner tables, city halls, and neighborhood organizations throughout our city. Where democracy can shine. Our regional parks are on the developer operating table when you look at 2017 history. The devastation of Grant Park where Greenspace is being reduced to impervious surface by more than 1/2 in order to have a bandstand venue, restaurant and zoo expansion. The 134 year old park trees have already begun to be clear cut. One of the most shameful episodes in Atlanta’s modern history. The clear cutting of Peachtree Hills park for developer’s stormwater costs externalized to tax payers and communities. Then Piedmont Park. Let’s not forget the 400-500 year old Magnolia trees outside of Piedmont Hospital destroyed. And the historic trees clear cut and civil war embankment camps destroyed by Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation. 2017.

      Who was pushing Kasim Reed with such a heavy hand so successfully? Fuqua? Woodruff? Other investor families? All of this development will damage/destroy the community quality of life, increase high-velocity stormwater, increase air/water/noise/light pollution, and impact human health in these areas. All in perpetuity. Why are these parks no longer important? Who says they aren’t? Who is making these decisions that clearly are happening under the table in duplicitous dens of inequity with transparent public discourse? Who is benefiting?

      It’s a middle finger to democracy in a democratically held city.Report

      Reply
      • Anna Hamer says:

        Melanie,
        Thank you for your ire and sense! I live in Grant Park. We have been trying to get the news out there about how these deals happened behind closed doors with no public input. It’s OUR Park! There are neighbors (I doubt they live on the park and will be witness to this destruction) who WANT this parking deck! It is backwards thinking at most. Do they think it’s going to increase their property values or something? WHY in the world would anyone think it’s a good idea to chop down old growth trees for a parking deck!?Report

        Reply
        • Melanie Bass Pollard says:

          Anna, I’m sorry to hear about your proximity to the death happening in Grant Park. The parking decks they are building will make plenty of money for someone as the city densifies. Possibly to serve a different purpose in future decades. The developers are looking ahead that far. It’s why there are so many storage units going up. Good investment, static income to wait the expansion out. These are regional parks we are talking about. And the city is selling them off to the highest bidder. If we continue to let this happen, there will be nothing but whatever the developers deem best for us… and their profit margins.

          Plain and simple: we must coordinate with each other to show up at every city hall and every zoning meeting and demand better representation of our elected officials. Hopefully, in the 100’s. That’s how democracy formed.

          We also need better transparency and term limits with the NPU system to weed out the self interests that corrupt the purposes of the system. Cities that surround the COA need a mutually coordinated NPU system so there is a network of communication between the communities & municipalities. Lastly, we need remote attendance to the city hall so we can participate in the democratic process. Development is moving at too fast a pace for democracy to work without this. Particularly in a city that avoids the problem of transportation by cutting down parks and building parking garages. More cars on Monroe/10th? That’s the vision? Seriously?Report

          Reply
  14. Janet Kishbaugh says:

    We all need to speak out against this development and stay alert. This proposal feels like the start of a scam to show us something we will HATE, only to bring back something far less bad and make us feel like accepting it would be a victory (happens all the time).
    If what these developers really want is a project with 4 story density and some shops, etc. occupying the whole triangular space, then they come in with a 10 or eleven story monstrosity they never really wanted. When they agree to scale back, they act like the neighborhood won. In reality we might never have approved the 4 story proposal, except now it seems like a win.
    Let’s decide what folks would be willing to accept and hold out for NO MORE development than that. If it is single family – let’s stick with it. Don’t let this old, show ’em the worst and they will settle for “bad,” ploy work.
    Thank you to Diane Olansky, NPU F, VaHi Neighbors, MLPA, Midtown Neighbors and all those who work to fight these kinds of bad development decisions every day!Report

    Reply
  15. Leslie Nelson Inman says:

    Is there no other way to make a living in Atlanta than to bulldoze trees? This city is becoming unlivable. Everytime I round a corner on my way to work, another property has been bulldozed for another for “Public Storage” or a characterless apartment complex. And now Piedmont Park? Piedmont Park bought this as public park property, but now they can sell it to a developer? At this rate, Atlanta will be a complete urban heat island filled with concrete without a tree left! I hope Jennifer Ide stands up to this over-development insanity. We need a way for concerned citizens of Atlanta to get alerts about developer’s plans so that we can show up at meetings and change the direction of the tree-cutting free-for-all.Report

    Reply
  16. June Ann Hall says:

    My concern is this………they will boast of “natural green” parks as advertisement to fill the apartments when Piedmont Park saturates and soaks their land with so many chemicals that one cannot find bees in their natural habitat on the land. Dogs are sure to be coming down with cancers from walking and rolling on those heavily treated grounds. And then there are the children that play and roll around with their parents. The grounds are so unsafe due to all the chemicals used. It is NOT natural by any means any more. It is being destroyed and life is dying off because of all the pesticides and chemicals used there. It is a life threatening place.Report

    Reply
  17. Randy Hubbell says:

    These plans were initiated people do not live in our area. There is enough anxiety driving on Monroe…..I am agasp. it’s just unbelievable. I cannot believe this is in the making, and it has gone as far as it has.. We need to stick together and be a voice against this deep pocketed endeavor.

    I will start a facebook page educating the community of the consequences of this thoughtless action. Please email me relevant information, it will be posted.

    Randy Hubbell
    [email protected]Report

    Reply
  18. June Ann says:

    Really, all the building is ok with me, but, it’s the disrespect towards LIFE itself that comes unwanted. I rarely see a bee in Midtown. Pesticides by the truckloads are killing not only the bees but other insects that birds feed upon. Piedmont Park is one of the deadliest places to go as I see trucks spraying everywhere. Dogs walk and roll in it. Children walk and roll in it! Cancers are spreading like wildfire. Midtown is becoming a toxic waste dump because no one is planting native plants and lawns are sprayed leaving little life on the land.Report

    Reply
  19. JD Christy says:

    As I have stated before, most citizens of Atlanta have absolutely no idea what Invest Atlanta is or how this appointed board led by the Mayor operates. They voted on this project with almost no input from the citizens affected in an early morning downtown meeting, with no input for those who attended the meeting, until AFTER the vote was taken.Report

    Reply
  20. John Jacobs says:

    None of them live here. Its outrageous..the Atlanta City Government Mafia will caught and prosecuted….its a matter of time! Why is mayor not being held responsible for purchasing Superbowl tickets for her husband on our dime…..hello you all. THIS IS HAPPENING!Report

    Reply
  21. June Ann says:

    Thank you for your post. I am so sure you are right. Many will be caught and prosecuted across all of America and Atlanta is saturated with Mafia type acts. They will be caught as the evidence is piling up.Report

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] project – a joint venture between Jim Kegley and Jeff Fuqua – drew widespread criticism from the surrounding neighborhoods of Virginia-Highland and Midtown because of its proposed […]Report

  2. […] 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. […]Report

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