Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Lady Celeste

Are Atlantans apathetic to urban development?

14 posts in this topic

*stepping on soapbox*

I decided not to make this a poll type thread. I don't really want to overly compare us with any other city. Upon browsing Urbanplanet, I have come to notice something very interesting. Cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas seem to have the lowest amount of traffic? Since I am not familiar with the other cities, I decided to ask the question of the posters and lurkers on the Atlanta forum.

Atlanta has been blessed with an amazing amount of urban development announcements in the last few years. Many that will change the shape and feel of the urban environment. It is hard to even keep up with many of the proposals...unless you make it almost a full time job. *smile* Now I understand that we here are not going to discuss every mall that is being built, every new store that enters the crowded Atlanta retail market or every new Target or Starbucks that opens but it's interesting that we even seem indifferent to major announcements as well. I'm not saying that it's bad of us not to discuss these things. I'm just curious as to why we here in the Atlanta forum seem as if we are "so over it." Are we going through development overload?

We are urbanplanet.org so I will focus myself on the urban fabric. There are many things going on in the suburbs and I in no way mean to minimize the importance of any locale. My main focus is shifting because I am liking what I am seeing going on inside the perimeter. There are many changes going on in the Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, Perimeter Center (suburban but more urban than some larger cities) and the Platinum Triangle (see Perimeter Center). The Fifth Street improvements are moving ahead nicely....this will basically add a "park" over the Downtown Connector. This will further enhance the urban experience for Georgia Tech and Midtown alike. Not that we have to give a brick by brick account but we are rather quiet about the vast improvement for what was already there. Allen Plaza is moving along very nicely. If it was not for Martinman, we would not have even seen the new glorious rendering of the new W as soon as we did.

The Peachtree Corridor through Midtown all the way to Buckhead is changing right before our very eyes. How many residential towers are now under construction either on Peachtree or less than two blocks from it. I count eight but I'm sure there are more. We won't even count the approved/proposed developments. There would be other cities more than happy to have such a robust development cycle. The last time I remember such a change in skyline was between 1986 and 1992. Who would have ever thought that Buckhead's skyline would rival cities five times it's population. Sure, it is not the example of urban planning in totality but it is definitely improving and righting wrongs.

The eastside of Atlanta is now going through a renaissance. Memorial Dr is going through drastic changes...for the better. Little Five Points is bustling with all types of mid to lowrise development. People are moving back into the city at numbers that are unheard of in my lifetime. Inside the city limits alone welcomes almost 10,000 new residents per year (according to the Atlanta Regional Commission). There are probably that 8,000 new residential units being added to the Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead inventory. The Cityplace at Buckhead (with it's 8 40 story tall condo towers approved) alone will add more than 3500 units. Inspite of the challenges Atlanta has faced in the past few years, she continues to rise.

Atlanta has turned it's eye towards the international community. Just last week, Mayor Franklin, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and other dignitaries and business leaders returned from China. The city is working hard on the behalf of Delta to get direct flights from China to Atlanta. The delegation also presented Atlanta as a great location for yet another consulate. This will greatly enhance the international standing of Atlanta. It's great to see that the city leaders have recognized the treasure we have in Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and are now thinking international. Yes, we have lost a few F500s in reacent months....but just think how lucky we are to have had and lost. Some are just now getting F500s....and we are still home to a large collection.

I can go on and on about the many developments going on in the citycenter of Atlanta. Midtown Mile, the Atlanta Aquarium (over 3.5 million visitors in it's first year), the resurgence of intown living, downtown being reborn, Midtown maturing with class, Atlantic Station and it's success, Buckhead and it's city within a city type growth, MARTA (the south's largest public transit system in number of passengers) and the new Beltline that will add even more transiti options to the growing residents of the city center. We are very lucky to be in a city with such growth but is it me or do we seem soooooooooooo apathetic to it all. Have we grown so large that it would take a 200 story building with 10 floors of retail just to get more chatter about URBAN development in this forum?

I'm just curious.....everyone is free to discuss.

*stepping off soap box*

p.s.- forgive me if I made any mistakes. It's hard trying to clearly type all my thoughts with a 10 month old, two three year olds and a four year old all demanding your time....all while you are trying to prepare dinner and catch Oprah. :shok:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I'm not an Atlantan, but I am definitely a fan and frequent visitor of the city (and possibly a future resident) and try to keep up with the developments in the city, at least the major ones.

From my perspective, there's just so much going on until it's just very overwhelming. I understand that Atlanta's situation is different from, say, Boston, because Atlanta is actually making great strides towards urbanization. So for Boston, a new tower may not be that big of a deal, but for Atlanta, it could have the potential to initiate some life on the street in the less-than-active part of downtown or contribute to the momentum that's already present. It's definitely exciting, but again, it's just all so very overwhelming. Maybe Atlanta's size has something to do with it. Although the city isn't the most urban big city out there, there's much to do and see in Atlanta so urbanity isn't necessarily connected to making Atlanta more of a world-class city, but it IS necessary to make Atlanta more livable. So maybe it has something to do with the priority of Atlantans--image or functionality.

And of course it's possible that I'm way off in my assessment here. :huh:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally am excited about the developments throughout the metro area. As long as people expect the city to grow more like LA and drop the notion of city=ITP, we are going to end up with several urban cores which may add even more personality to Atlanta. The trend is that the metro is growing around the job centers (Alpharetta, Central Perimeter, Cumberland, Buckhead, Midtown, Downtown) and the job centers are becoming the case study for the "new urbanism".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Easy for most of us to be excited - we're active participants in a pro-urban growth forum. But for the typical person, I think even human - people tend to be opposed to change. In their life, job, relationship & built environment. Meaning - most people want their neighborhood & city to stay the same, to stay in a vacuam. Of course, that is easy for someone in a stable neighborhood, often not true for a troubled neighborhood. But many residents that have settled in Cabbagetown, Virginia Highlands or Buckhead like the way things are NOW. An even more extreme, longer time residents like the way things are THEN, like the common gripe among longtime residents of Atlanta is the city has changed too much.

So, yes - I think Atlantans are apathetic to urban development. They do not view pedestrian oriented / pro-transit / smart growth / etc. type of developments as any different from a new subdivision or office park in the suburbs. It is all change & alters what they have come to depend on in their life.

Of course this is not universal, this is the US - home to a nation of explorers that are constantly on the move. But nostalgia is an important factor in people, I admit I even miss the old crime ridden Midtown of the 90's.

...ok, I lost my train of thought.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Atlanta has a heavy rail transit subway transit system. This is a very rare thing in US cities and one that sets apart the urban places from those that are not. If the city continues to move to leverage this advantage I think there will be a lot more interest in urban development in the future.

If there are 10,000 new residents moving into Atlanta/year, I would say this is a good sign that Atlantians are not apathetic to urban development and this is a welcome change to past decades.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I frequent this board every couple of days or so to give individuals time to post new information. I am a journalism major @ GSU and a Buckhead resident. I am elated with the exponential amount of growth I have seen in our city. I am a 21 year old african american male and I am proud of this city. I am proud to call it home. Our city is beautiful in my opinion. I moved from Stone Mountain to Buckhead in order indulge in much of what the city life in Atlanta has to offer. I have lived in the metro area for 12 years and I sometimes think of traveling to far locations to see other cities in our world. I hope to do something great for Spring Break! However, when it is all said and done I would not mind calling Atlanta my home (or @ least one of them) for the rest of my life.

I am more than thankful for the conscientious posters that frequent this message board. It is these posters that keep me up to date with knowledge on what is happening in the city.

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone and I will keep on reading.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not an Atlantan, but I am definitely a fan and frequent visitor of the city (and possibly a future resident) and try to keep up with the developments in the city, at least the major ones.

From my perspective, there's just so much going on until it's just very overwhelming. I understand that Atlanta's situation is different from, say, Boston, because Atlanta is actually making great strides towards urbanization. So for Boston, a new tower may not be that big of a deal, but for Atlanta, it could have the potential to initiate some life on the street in the less-than-active part of downtown or contribute to the momentum that's already present. It's definitely exciting, but again, it's just all so very overwhelming. Maybe Atlanta's size has something to do with it. Although the city isn't the most urban big city out there, there's much to do and see in Atlanta so urbanity isn't necessarily connected to making Atlanta more of a world-class city, but it IS necessary to make Atlanta more livable. So maybe it has something to do with the priority of Atlantans--image or functionality.

And of course it's possible that I'm way off in my assessment here. :huh:

No, I really think that's the main thing. It really is overwhelming. I don't live in Atlanta, but I do live in one of its outer-suburbs :D and I really try to pay attention to what's going on in Atlanta because I do love the city and I think everyone in the state sorta feels a kind-of ownership if you will.

Also wanted to agree with Teshadoh about missing the old Midtown. I rememeber when I was a kid, probably in the late 80s, my dad took me down Peachtree and I remembered seeing all of these weird people everywhere and, um, well "ladies-of-the-night" walking up to cars and getting in. I remembered my Dad, who had lived in Little Five Points, told me that Atlanta was where all the weird people moved to. You don't see that anymore, at least not like that. Not sure if that sounds weird.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think many Atlantans are not apathetic about urban development, but downright opposed to it. There is intense resistance to change and urbanization in many intown neighborhoods.

And I think a lot of it is understandable. Atlanta has not established a good track record of protecting its neighborhoods. Development has been willy-nilly all over town almost since the very beginning of the city. We've had freeways rip through almost every part of town, misguided "urban renewal" projects, white flight, decentralization, bizarre zoning decisions, major damage to the school system, gentrification, and many other forces that have often operated to the detriment of residents. Many of those who decided to take a stand and stay in the city, and those who have ventured back, feel embattled and put upon.

Unfortunately, this has lead to an "us vs. them" mentality on the part of many folks. Change has often been extremely negative and damaging to city residents, and it will likely take a while to rebuild trust and a sense of partnership.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I think many Atlantans are not apathetic about urban development, but downright opposed to it. There is intense resistance to change and urbanization in many intown neighborhoods.

And I think a lot of it is understandable. Atlanta has not established a good track record of protecting its neighborhoods. Development has been willy-nilly all over town almost since the very beginning of the city. We've had freeways rip through almost every part of town, misguided "urban renewal" projects, white flight, decentralization, bizarre zoning decisions, major damage to the school system, gentrification, and many other forces that have often operated to the detriment of residents. Many of those who decided to take a stand and stay in the city, and those who have ventured back, feel embattled and put upon.

Unfortunately, this has lead to an "us vs. them" mentality on the part of many folks. Change has often been extremely negative and damaging to city residents, and it will likely take a while to rebuild trust and a sense of partnership.

That's a very good characterization of the way things are as of right now. It's great that the city is experiencing such a profound turn-around with the influx of new residents, but you get the sense that, while that new influx is all well and good, that the new residents might not feel a real sense of ownership of the city. I heard someone on here--I think it was Newnan--refer to the city's new-found popularity as almost a fad, and I think time will tell whether or not that's true, but for right now I think a lot of people who stuck by the city when it was on its deathbed so to speak, now see the new influx of people as a bunch of opportunists who only want to change the city to whatever their image of an urban utopia should be---with some feeling it should look like Chicago or New York, or some wanting it to resemble Boston or whatever; nevermind that the neighborhoods were there long before people traded in their suburban gig for an intown hip house; that there were people there, working, and trying to make the city better. I think it leads to a lot of animosity.

You know, it's almost like a small town provincialism at play if you think about. Like we don't want any new outsiders coming in and changing the way we do things. I can certainly sympathize. I'm not sure if this has made any sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a very good characterization of the way things are as of right now. It's great that the city is experiencing such a profound turn-around with the influx of new residents, but you get the sense that, while that new influx is all well and good, that the new residents might not feel a real sense of ownership of the city. I heard someone on here--I think it was Newnan--refer to the city's new-found popularity as almost a fad, and I think time will tell whether or not that's true, but for right now I think a lot of people who stuck by the city when it was on its deathbed so to speak, now see the new influx of people as a bunch of opportunists who only want to change the city to whatever their image of an urban utopia should be---with some feeling it should look like Chicago or New York, or some wanting it to resemble Boston or whatever; nevermind that the neighborhoods were there long before people traded in their suburban gig for an intown hip house; that there were people there, working, and trying to make the city better. I think it leads to a lot of animosity.

You know, it's almost like a small town provincialism at play if you think about. Like we don't want any new outsiders coming in and changing the way we do things. I can certainly sympathize. I'm not sure if this has made any sense.

I understand what you are saying but I don't agree. Maybe it is because I live in town. People seem to be proud of Atlanta and love it here. At least the people I know. But then again I do not know anyone that was born in Atlanta.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^I'm not explaining myself very well. I agree with you, everyone from Atlanta proper is very proud of the city. I was expanding on what Andrea said wherein people who have lived in the city for a long time, put up with a corrupt government, the falling property values, high crime, etc., but stuck by the city and really believed in it---I think those people do feel a sense of animosity when it comes to a lot of new people moving into the city, who, in many cases simply wanting it to look like "Sex and the City" or "Friends." It leads to anger and each new project is met with a new critical eye---because each new project that is announced, I can guarantee there is someone thinking, "how much longer until it hits my neighborhood."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also wanted to agree with Teshadoh about missing the old Midtown. I rememeber when I was a kid, probably in the late 80s, my dad took me down Peachtree and I remembered seeing all of these weird people everywhere and, um, well "ladies-of-the-night" walking up to cars and getting in...

Oh, there's plently of that still here, both ladies and "ladies." ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it's provincialism nor do I think the feeling is unique to Atlanta. It's simply that people tend to fear change, especially when their experience with change in the past has been negative. Many people are distrustful of government and development proposals that change the status quo.

There's a great deal of powerful psychology associated with the concept of "home", and it involves very deep feelings of safety, security, family, ownership and investment, a sense of place, etc. Anyone who's ever been to a neighborhood association meeting, or who's gotten into a property line dispute, or had an obnoxious neighbor realizes the explosive emotions that can be unleashed.

Someone else's emotions about these things may seem utterly unreasonable or nonsensical to us, yet we can't discount the fact that they exist. Folks tend to get things set up the way they like them, and many times they'll bow up when somebody else comes in and says they're going to be making changes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.