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Andrea

Minor Rant

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All right, I know I'm wearing the cranky pants today....but!

For all the hoopla I hear about remaking Atlanta, it sure seems like we continue to be tightly bound to our car culture. While I know Allen Boulevard is still a work in progress, I thought one of the major aspirations of the Aquarium was to create something that would attract human beings back into the city.

To me, it looks about as pedestrian-unfriendly as you can get:

Allen Boulevard, beside Georgia Aquarium

If you're spending $200-300 million, wouldn't it make sense to get with your planners and say, "Hey, I've got a few ideas! Instead of putting up a 70 foot concrete wall with no windows immediately next to a standard width concrete sidewalk with an 18" strip of grass running up to the curb, why don't we think about recessing the parking lot slightly at street level, widening the sidewalk, adding some steps, benches and trees, and putting in street level shops and restaurants which would be fun and create a vibrant city environment? Instead of a plain uphill street with two wide painted lanes in each direction and a big old concrete median, why don't we work with the DOT to create something a little less forbidding and more bike and foot friendly that will link pedestrians with nearby buildings and parks? And maybe we should check with Georgia Power Company to see about burying the power lines or at least getting them to do something other than putting up massive 100' steel columns right across the street? Oh yeah, and maybe we should think about adding a few doors while we're at it?"

Just up the street there's another building, which I believe is a condominium. It's wonderful to have more people living in the city, but again, wouldn't it make sense to devote a little attention to making this place less fortress-like and more open to two- and four-legged creatures who might be walking down the street? The only entrances I see are a couple of rather small, undistinguished doors and a place to drive into the parking deck.

Condo on Allen Boulevard

Just for the sake of comparison, here's what's being done in terms of streetscape in a couple of other recent projects that are nearing completion here in town.

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Whoa, that was an earful! But yes, I totally agree with you. The condos and the influx of people are great, but these people need more sidewalks and pedestrian friendly facilities and such to encourage walking instead of driving. I dream of one day seeing the Atlanta sidealks bustling with pedestriand and bikers and I think we can one day achieve that, but the first thing we have to do is make the sidewalks and streets friendlier; Duh!!

oh, and the sidewalks at Atlantic Station look pretty nice.

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Sorry, Newnan, that was an earful! ;-)

The thing is, it's not rocket surgery to create pedestrian environments. The two photos from Edgewood and Atlantic Station show how easy it is. People have been doing it in small towns and big cities forever. In our town, however, we seem destined to repeat the same errors over and over. At least that is what it seems like to me.

Now, it may be that the people who planned the Aquarium and the other buildings and even the road itself could come roaring in here and say, "Andrea, you idiot! We've thought these things through at great length and considered them from every angle. The fact is that people love to trudge up steep hills on narrow sidewalks with a major thoroughfare with a huge concrete median on one side and a 70' windowless concrete slab on the other. They don't want restaurants, shops and doorways cluttering up their view of high tension lines mounted on giant steel poles! Plus, why do we even want pedestrians when we can easily add lanes to existing roads at very little cost and move folks around in the air conditioned comfort of their own vehicles?" Perhaps these things could be true, and the problem is that I just don't want to believe them.

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Andrea - unfortunately I have been reserving a "I told you so" opinion regarding the fishtank. It is built for people to drive to, that is pretty much it. So, just like going to a BRaves game - people will drive to the parking lot / deck & have a good time - then drive the hell back to the burbs.

The downtown neighbor's association fought hard against the parking deck as well as the next massive eyesore, Coca Cola's project - another anti-pedestrian design. Sigh... things like this often make me even more cynical of Atlanta's re-urbanization than optimistic. If this is the best we can come up with, especially with a project at this scale - this could turn into another Urban Renewal phase. A lot of excitment but after 10 years we'll be scratching our heads wondering what happened.

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Andrea I agree with your frustrations and I think its critical that every future development gets it "right" because we can't afford any more mistakes. Unfortunately pedestrian scaled development IS like rocket science to the big local developers and certanly to the DOT. I don't even want to talk about GA power :angry:

As for Ivan Allen, I was told by someone that the concrete median would eventually be landscaped and that CAP/ADID would finish the streetscaping once the DOT is done. I know the renderings showed pavers in the sidewalks so Im still hopeful that it will turn out well.

I'm giving the aquarium a pass. Surely it would be soooo much better if there were storefronts and the bottom of the parking deck but the design of it preceded the concept of a new walkable Ivan Allen. For me its not as important that the aquarium be a mixed use paradise. Its a museum. I think its more important that the surrounding area attract people into the environment, visitors or residents and whether they drove there or not.

The pics of the other areas shows that there is reason to hope and show that slowly but surely we are "getting it" but we aren't there yet.

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I'll be damned if I can find it, but somewhere over on the Skyscaperpage Forums, they were discussing this. Apparrantley, the DOT for some reason is doing the basic road work and the city or a downtown improvement district is coming back in afterwards to do the streetscaping (i.e. Trees, brick paver accents).

I know this doesn't solve the GA Power ginormous power poles, and scale issues, but it should help.

:blush:

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Newnan Eric, I have also heard that the city is going to come in later and do "more extensive" landscaping. From the looks of Andrea's photo's, it's currently a barren mess. I will reserve my disdain until I see what the city do....if they do anything at all. It would be a tragedy not to make this a showcase boulevard. If the streescaping is done properly then I feel it will lessen the blow (in some people's mind) of the stark and harsh rear exterior of the Georgia Aquarium.

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Well, I'm encouraged to hear there is talk of fixing it, although I am puzzled as to why critical pedestrian features would not be included as an integral -- and high priority -- component of a project such as this. The way things are now, Allen Boulevard very much looks like a place to drive to, and then go inside until it's time to drive somewhere else.

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Well, I'm encouraged to hear there is talk of fixing it, although I am puzzled as to why critical pedestrian features would not be included as an integral -- and high priority -- component of a project such as this. The way things are now, Allen Boulevard very much looks like a place to drive to, and then go inside until it's time to drive somewhere else.

The answer to this question is that the work was done by the GDOT, the agency that had some sort of silly requirement that streetlights be 8 feet from the street to minimize the likelihood of a car running into them. (see sections of 17th street) :blink:

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The answer to this question is that the work was done by the GDOT, the agency that had some sort of silly requirement that streetlights be 8 feet from the street to minimize the likelihood of a car running into them. (see sections of 17th street) :blink:
Yeah, I'm aware that DOT has a number of rules that are motorist rather than pedestrian friendly. In this case, howver, it looks like they've put the streetlights within 18" or so of the curb for some reason.

It still troubles me that the sidewalks are narrow, and only have a little skinny grass strip on the street side and a massive windowless slab on the other. There is no provision for benches, retail, street vendors, planters, awnings, steps, handrails, or any other pedestrian features. There are no pavers or other interesting site materials evident. Neither the normal utility lines nor the massive steel high tension poles appear to have been addressed. The concrete median shows no crosswalks (or wheelchair ramps) but does have what looks like a couple of sign posts mounted in the middle, which I presume will be for vehicular traffic.

Hopefully some of these issues will be addressed, but as I say I find it perplexing that they are not an integral, high priority part of the plan for a project of this nature.

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