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The Urban Land Institute to Advise Central Atlanta Progress on Planning and Development of the “Stitch,” a Proposal for Vibrant Park Space Along I-75 and I-85 Connector

Urban Land Institute

Nationally Renowned Panel of Land Use and Urban Planning Experts to Visit Atlanta February 24 – March 1
A group of nationally renowned land use, urban design and real estate experts representing the Urban Land Institute (ULI) will be visiting Atlanta February 24-March 1 to provide strategic advice on the funding, planning and development of the Stitch, a proposal for a freeway “lid” with vibrant park space situated between Interstate 75 and Interstate 85 in the city’s downtown.
ULI is a global, multidisciplinary real estate organization whose work is driven by 42,000-plus members dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving, sustainable communities. The ULI representatives, convened through ULI’s renowned Advisory Services Program, will provide expertise and insights on advancing the Stitch with a focus on the following:

  • Project Positioning – key economic and community outcomes that support significant investment in public infrastructure;
  • Development Impacts – community development that could be catalyzed by the project;
  • Design – experience and key competencies for design partners; and
  • Funding – best practices and creative ways to build a coalition of funding partners.

The panel’s visit is part of ULI’s involvement in the 10-Minute Walk Campaign — a national movement being promoted by the institute in partnership with The Trust for Public Land and the National Recreation and Park Association to ensure that residents in cities across the U.S. have access to high-quality parks within a 10-minute walk of their neighborhoods. The Stitch assignment is one of a series of ULI advisory panel assignments related to the 10-Minute Walk Campaign.
Central Atlanta Progress, a local partner in the 10-Minute Walk Campaign, initiated the Stitch concept, which envisions building a three-quarter-mile freeway lid, or platform, spanning the Interstate-75/85 Downtown Connector to “stitch” together this section of Atlanta’s urban core with park space and a mix of land uses. The concept proposes to reclaim approximately 14 acres of urban green space on top of the new platform that would extend from the Civic Center MARTA Rail Station at West Peachtree Street to Piedmont Avenue.
During the week, the panelists will tour the study area and spend two days meeting and interviewing public- and private-sector representatives, property owners, park organizations, city representatives, Stitch project partners, potential private funders and other stakeholders. After carefully analyzing the site and completing the interviews, the panelists will then frame their recommendations and draft a presentation that will be made to the public at the conclusion of the visit.
Leading ULI member James Lima is chairing the panel. Lima, president of James Lima Planning + Development in New York City, has been involved in the real estate industry for more than 30 years, including extensive private- and public-sector experience in the planning and revitalization of urban places at a variety of scales.
“Great urban parks are now widely understood to be tremendous creators of real estate value as well as important centers for new economic investment, mixed-use development, and vibrant street life,” Lima said. “When programmed and operated by local stewards to reflect local community needs, these public spaces also become important hubs of civic life in ways that address issues of inclusion, equity, and wellness. They remind us of the role that excellent design can play in enhancing our collective quality of life in cities.”
Lima will be joined on the panel by Dionne Baux, director of Urban Programs, National Main Street Center, Chicago; Gia Biagi, principal, Urbanism and Civic Impact, Studio Gang Architects, Chicago; Kathryn Firth, director, Urban Design, NBBJ, Boston; Wei Huang, founder, Novus Real Estate, Glendale, California; Jack Kardys, president, J. Kardys Strategies LLC, Miami; Rick Krochalis, commissioner, Seattle Design Commission, Seattle; Glenn LaRue Smith, principal and co-founder, PUSH Studio, LLC, Washington, D.C.; and Sujata Srivastava, principal, Strategic Economics, Berkeley, California.
“The Stitch is a generational opportunity to create a dynamic public realm at the core of our city and do so in a way that makes Atlanta more connected, healthy, and vibrant,” said Sarah Kirsch, executive director of ULI Atlanta, which serves the Institute’s members in the greater Atlanta metropolitan region. “The concept first captured the imagination of ULI Atlanta members when a group within our Center for Leadership analyzed the capping proposal in 2012.  We are so grateful for this opportunity to engage the expertise of ULI and its members from across the county to advance the vision and bring us one step closer to implementation.”
Now in its 72nd year, ULI’s globally renowned advisory services program assembles experts in the fields of real estate and land use planning to participate on panels worldwide, offering recommendations for complex planning and development projects, programs and policies. Panels have developed more than 700 studies for a broad range of land uses, ranging from waterfront properties to inner-city retail.
Past sponsors of ULI advisory service panels include federal, state and local government agencies; regional councils of government; chambers of commerce; redevelopment authorities; private developers and property owners; community development corporations; lenders; historic preservation groups; non-profit community groups; environmental organizations and economic development agencies.
NOTE TO REPORTERS AND EDITORS: Members of the public and media are invited to a reception on Monday, February 25, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 435 Peachtree St. NE in Atlanta. The panel will provide its recommendations during a public presentation at the same location on Friday, March 1, at 9:00 am.
For more information, contact: Trisha Riggs at 202-624-7086; [email protected]

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