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GSU and surrounds by Kelly Jordan

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Mirror Images by Kelly Jordan

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Downtown became more challenging

Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  However, in true Henry Ford style, he did not ask for opinions and what we got was the “horseless carriage.” And the world has never been the same. Americans have long had a love affair with the […]

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Homeless in Atlanta by Kelly Jordan

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Philips Arena overhaul could include The ‘Gulch’

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta The $192.5 million renovation plan for Philips Arena could also include upgrades to land between Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Underground Atlanta and Centennial Olympic Park. According to this week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle, that includes what some call the “gulch.” The gulch is the property under the Georgia World Congress Center […]

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Richard Bradley

Commentary: Perceptions about downtowns are changing

Original article on WABE by Maria Saporta

More than 700 people from around the country descended on Atlanta from Sept. 7 to Sept. 9 to attend the International Development Association meeting at the Westin Peachtree Plaza. The event harkened back to 1977 – the last time the IDA came to Atlanta. At the time, Dan Sweat, who was heading Central Atlanta Progress, hosted the organization.

Richard Bradley

Richard Bradley receives IDA’s Dan Sweat award from Jim Cloar and Tally Sweat (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Downtowns have changed dramatically in the four decades since the last time the International Downtown Association met in Atlanta.

For instance, the organization’s members were the top executives of downtown groups – and at the time, they were all male. So Atlanta put together a “ladies program” for the spouses. Dan Sweat’s wife – Tally Sweat –helped organize the program.

Today, the association’s members include staff members in addition to top executives and industry consultants – and a large portion of the attendees were women.

Richard Bradley was president of the association in the 1980s. He remembered journalists calling when downtown department stores started closing and asking him whether their downtowns were dying.

Bradley optimistically told them downtowns were changing.

In the 1970s and 1980s, stores and businesses were moving away from central cities as suburbs were booming.

Today, downtowns are rebounding. More people want to live and work in urban centers – choosing authentic and historic locations rather than cookie-cutter suburbs.

The lingo also has also changed. Now downtown leaders talk about “place making” and creating experiences – a sharp contrast from the previous perception that downtowns were dirty, dangerous and dull.

Richard Bradley’s efforts have come full circle. He was recently presented with the IDA’s Dan Sweat Lifetime Achievement Award. One of the people presenting the 2016 award was Sweat’s widow – Tally Sweat.