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3 Community Groups Join Support for Street Car

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Guest donaltopablo

City groups hop aboard streetcar study

By JULIE B. HAIRSTON

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 05/02/04

Three special taxing districts along the Peachtree Street spine want to look at bringing streetcars back to the corridor from downtown to Buckhead.

The Downtown Improvement District, Midtown Alliance and Buckhead Community Improvement District have committed a collective $75,000 to help pay for a study of the proposed Peachtree Streetcar.

Spokesmen for each of the districts said the potential of a streetcar to stimulate development and make travel through the corridor easier is too compelling to ignore.

"Since we live in a very linear city . . . and we don't have good transit on [Peachtree Street] and this kind of transit has been so successful in other cities, it seems appropriate to study whether it makes sense for us," said A.J. Robinson, president of the Downtown Improvement District.

A study of the possible merits and drawbacks for a streetcar operating along Peachtree Street was launched earlier this year by a private nonprofit organization, Peachtree Streetcar Inc.

In addition to the latest commitments, Atlanta businessman Charles Loudermilk, the Atlanta Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Fulton County, Lanier Parking Co., and the real estate management firm of Jones Lang LaSalle have all donated money to help pay for it.

Susan Mendheim, president of the Midtown Alliance, said she has visited Portland, Ore., where a streetcar in the Pearl District, formerly a depressed neighborhood of warehouses, helped stimulate more than $1 billion in economic development in just five years.

"We're all excited about making Peachtree a vibrant urban corridor. To do that, it's essential to have some sort of transit," Mendheim said. "A streetcar would be a marvelous choice if indeed it will work."

Not everyone is convinced it will. Both Mendheim and Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell said there are those among their membership who oppose the project.

"They are not thrilled about overhead wiring [along the street]. They are not thrilled about tearing up Peachtree again [for construction]. They are not thrilled about having another vehicle in the lane. And they are not thrilled about a $250 million tab [to pay for construction]," Massell said.

The former Atlanta mayor, however, said he favors the streetcar proposal, if the study shows it can be reasonably done.

"I start from the premise that all transportation is good transportation," Massell said.

David Allman, chairman of the Buckhead Community Improvement District and president of Regent Partners, said he is intrigued by the streetcar's potential to link so many intown neighborhoods that don't have easy access to transit now. Investing $25,000 in finding a way to provide that connection made a lot of sense to his Buckhead colleagues.

"It's not a lot of money in the big scheme of things. We can play a very strategic, unique role to connect these key parts of the city," Allman said.

Michael Robison, chairman of Peachtree Streetcar Inc. and president of Lanier Parking, said each of the three contributing districts can lend their distinct characters to the project.

"The long-term support of these important business groups is essential but their early support is critical to the project's long-term success," Robison said. "That we have them on the team in the beginning has us all thrilled."

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I would love a streetcar system in Atlanta - that would make a large dent in localized traffic. A line on Peachtree, Ponce de Leon, Memorial, Cascade, Metropolitan, MLK / Bankhead & Marietta would make Atlanta a fairly easy city to get around on foot.

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Guest donaltopablo

I would love a streetcar system in Atlanta - that would make a large dent in localized traffic. A line on Peachtree, Ponce de Leon, Memorial, Cascade, Metropolitan, MLK / Bankhead & Marietta would make Atlanta a fairly easy city to get around on foot.

No doubt. It would be a welcome change too. Plus, I think it would be a great way to build on the development the city has seen recently.

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