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Thought Leadership Views From Peachtree

Transforming the North Ave. MARTA Plaza into Something Extraordinary

By Ansley Whipple, Project Manager of Programming and Activation

In Midtown, we believe that great public spaces are places people remember vividly and tell stories about. They are the places where serendipitous things happen, serving as central gathering places for public life.

The North Avenue MARTA station plaza, an underused but centrally located space at Ponce de Leon and West Peachtree, has the potential to become a place for the community to get together and linger longer in Midtown. So, Midtown Alliance, MARTA Artbound and Project for Public Spaces (PPS) are teaming up to transform the plaza into something extraordinary in 2023.

Midtown Alliance received a $40,000 Community Placemaking Grant, from Project for Public Spaces funded by Niantic , to make improvements to this site by adding physical amenities, events and programming that will help make people want to spend time in this space. 

Improvements have already started with some cosmetic updates—a new coat of cheerful yellow paint, permanent wood benches on the perimeter of the space, and giant self-watering blue planters with new landscaping.

Last fall, Midtown Alliance collaborated with Project for Public Spaces on a series of workshops on-site to get input from key stakeholders that included MARTA riders, nearby residents, representatives from Georgia Tech, members of the arts community, and nearby offices, churches, and cultural institutions. In addition to the workshops, we also conducted one-on-one interviews with other nearby partners. We’re also currently fielding an online survey that asks what you’d like to do there, which has received 150+ responses and is still open for your feedback for another few weeks.

During these workshops, we’ve learned the plaza needs clearer, more welcoming signage, shade, and more seating – and there is an opportunity to include public art on the surfaces of these new amenities. Activities most requested by the community include artisan or farmers markets and live music, and many people also expressed interest in a coffee cart or truck. There is the potential to form partnerships to program the plazas with local arts and cultural institutions and nearby office buildings.

Midtown Alliance has connected with Atelier7—a local architectural design practice specialized in shipping container, modular systems, and pre-fab building systems—to explore designs for a performing arts stage design that could support these activities and more. We’re expected to have preliminary designs and begin fabrication this winter. We hope to begin public programming by the end of summer 2023, welcoming the community to events and to enjoy the new amenities.

One reason the North Avenue MARTA station plaza is a challenging place to transform is that office workers in the area are slow to return and the cadence of hybrid work still seems unsettled. The area also suffers from a lack of ground floor activations in the surrounding buildings, which causes the pedestrian experience to feel cold and unfriendly. 

However, we found through our workshops and meetings that the community is very open to a revitalization of this space, and they are willing to help do what they can to make this project as successful as it can be. The Tower Square renovations across the street from this space, led by CBRE, signal a renewed interest in the street-level activity of the area.

We have assembled a fantastic group of organizations and people to work on and give input for this public space transformation project. We  are hopeful that the end result will be impactful and will reclaim this space for higher and better uses. Tell us how you’d like to see the plaza come to life by taking our brief survey. And make plans to come out and spend time there later this year!

 

This is sponsored content.

2 Comments

  1. Nicolas Uppal January 11, 2023 4:33 pm

    MARTA is winning, crushing the transit game and setting up Atlanta to unleash its full growth potential. We need LIGHT RAIL on Clifton Corridor.Report

    Reply
  2. Paula grad January 13, 2023 11:26 am

    The problem with spaces like this is the preponderance of homeless people. I assume The table and chairs were removed from the arts center due to the number of homeless. The station does not feel safe, was not kept clean or repairedReport

    Reply

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