Social media fuels Tech study of Memorial Drive to super speed
By David Pendered
Social media is enabling the Georgia Tech analysis of Memorial Drive to proceed at a startling rate of speed.
As various findings appear on a Facebook page and are shared via other social media, interested parties are providing feedback to the Tech students in almost real time. Portions of a report presented Oct. 27 are already substantially out of date, Tech professor of practice Mike Dobbins said Tuesday.
The result is that the final report is likely to be much more comprehensive than originally anticipated. It’s due for release in early December and could become the basis of a potential city plan to guide the redevelopment of the Memorial Drive corridor from near the state Capitol east toward Decatur.
Atlanta Councilmember Natalyn Archibong initiated the study. Archibong provided funding from her council budget, and convinced Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration to chip in, to help cover the cost of Tech’s studio.
One aspect of the Tech report that’s outdated addresses the issue of enhancing a broader awareness of various public and private projects.
The idea is to identify all the projects expected along the Memorial Drive corridor, estimate their cost, and put them on a timeline.
Such a timeline could be invaluable to ensure that various projects proceed in a logical fashion.
The goal is not to stifle development, but to ensure that, for example, the Georgia Department of Transportation is aware that a planned intersection improvement project may be affected by a condo project going up nearby. Or, for instance, that a parcel of vacant land is next to one of the future trails of the Atlanta BeltLine that’s soon to be constructed.
The draft version of the “Imagine Memorial” provides a list of 24 public and private projects that students have seen being built or are reasonably certain construction will begin.
A timeline shows expected dates for planning, construction and completion.
The material is already dated because of an overwhelming response from the various entities that intend to develop public or private projects along Memorial Drive, according to Dobbins.
The assorted players are paying such close attention to the students’ work, and evidently are so eager to contribute, they have stepped forward since Oct. 27 to offer more specific information about their projects. State and regional planning officials have reached out to offer details of their plans, Dobbins said.
If the process continues on this trajectory, Dobbins said, students should be able to include in the final report a fairly granular scope of planned projects and their construction horizon.
The draft plan provides five categories of development activity expected in the Memorial Drive corridor:
- Atlanta BeltLine
- Atlanta’s Department of Public Works
- Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management
- Georgia Department of Transportation
- Private development projects of office, homes and shops.
If the concept of viewing developments across this sort of broad spectrum is maintained as the plan moves into the political arena, it would be a rare example in Atlanta.
Consider the Georgia Aquarium.
When Bernie Marcus announced his $200 million gift that was to be built by Centennial Olympic Park, then Mayor Shirley Franklin designated one person to oversee the city’s role in the project.
Franklin said she wanted to make sure that the city didn’t bobble its share of the project.
Franklin’s designee had duties that included ensuring that roads weren’t repaved before sewers were installed; that adequate water and sewer was available at the site; that permitting issues were handled promptly; and that any number of seemingly tiny details were coordinated in a thoughtful manner.