Archive for June, 2011

Triumphant Return! And Food From a Farm

First order of business: Charlie and I are rejoining Tamra as metblogs contributors! In case you haven’t noticed, posting has been a little scant lately. We weren’t entirely sure of the site’s long-term stability following our, um, hiatus in February, but we are good to go now, in it to win it, and looking for new writers. If you are an Atlantan, live and love the city, can string together a sentence or two, and are willing to do it once or twice a week, leave a comment and we’ll track ya down!

Alright, homework’s done. Today I want to talk about food. I really like food. Georgia, that big red sea surrounding Atlanta, is just chock full of it. Farms galore. One in seven Georgians work in some sort of ag-related field. It’s what our state’s economy was built on, and yet …  well, our grocery stores don’t exactly reflect it. We have WONDERFUL options for food in the city, it’s just that the local produce, the stuff from all those farms I keep hearing about, doesn’t often show up at the Hipster Kroger or the Publix on Ponce. The DeKalb and Buford Hwy “Farmers Markets” have every kind of food you can imagine, most of it exceedingly cheap, but produce at YDFM seems to always come from Chile, California, or Mexico. 

So. We turn to the myriad of little farmer’s markets that pop up in every neighborhood once a week, where I end up with ramps and an onion and a jalapeno pepper, a $7 loaf of bread and a $6 pint of blueberries, from farms with names like Gaia Gardens and Love is Love. Granted, those will be the most perfect, plump, tart-sweet, incredibly delicious blueberries I will ever eat, but it’s not exactly grocery shopping for the week.

Third option: a CSA. Georgia Organics has a pretty exhaustive run-down of what CSAs are, and where they are available. I personally have subscribed to the yuppiest, laziest, pickiest option possible: this company. They allow me to request that they never, ever include beets; they deliver a box of food to my front porch; they let me swap out what I don’t feel like eating that week; and they have options for honey, yogurt, coffee, etc. I opt for local over organic produce, and, most convenient of all – you can put a hold on your order just a few days in advance.  This is helpful when you remember that you’ll be out of town next week. Or if you just have more dining-out plans than usual. Or if you are still eating green beans and squash from last week.

Of course, there are much more cost-effective options, if you’re into it. Where do you shop for groceries? Does anyone actually use a CSA? Do you do battle at the Dekalb Market on the weekends? Or do you get your lil debbies at Kroghetto, Krogay, Disco Kroger, Murder Kroger? Finally, while we’re at it, what’s the general consensus on the clever name for the Edgewood (Hipster, in my house) Kroger?

Fill In the Blanks, Round 2: Downtown

 

Former BP station - Ponce and Piedmont

This ex-BP could be revived as a small coffee shop and cafe

This former BP station at Ponce and Piedmont has been empty for about five years now. While the neighborhood apparently didn’t need two gas stations at the same intersection, perhaps it could use a coffee shop/sandwich shop/bakery on that corner. Ideally, it would be a place open for weeknight and weekend brunch and dinner. The building itself is pretty small, but once the gas pumps were yanked out, the areas underneath the two awnings could be used for outdoor seating in a setup like Brewhouse Cafe.

Parking? It doesn’t need it. A few thousand people live within a 15-minute walk of that building and two hotels are right around the corner. North Avenue Station is two blocks away, the route 110 bus passes one block away and the route 2 goes right by the door. The very limited parking that’s there could be reserved for employees and wheelchair-accessible spaces.

Empty lot at North Avenue and Peachtree

With just a bit of work, this site at Peachtree and North Avenue could become a neighborhood park.

At the next intersection to the west is the empty lot where the white marble Wachovia building was demolished, also about five years ago. It was to be site of a Cousins condo project called Fox Plaza, but like other holdovers from the era of condo-mania, it’s still up in the air. So how about a couple of alternate uses?

  • Apartments: Fewer people are able and willing to buy condos right now than when this building was demolished, but people still want to live in the city, close to transit, restaurants and entertainment. The prospective residents of our hypothetical apartments could have their hypothetical weekday dinners and weekend coffees and brunches at the hypothetical BP Cafe.
  •  Leave it more or less as it is and make it park, just adding some lighting, seating and shade, maybe a fountain. There’s a pretty pronounced lack of public space for the residents and workers in this neighborhood. To prevent people staying in the park overnight, a tall, decorative fence could be erected where the chainlink is now and the gates locked between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Ralph McGill and Williams Street

Apartments, a neighborhood market and a small music venue could occupy this empty lot at Williams and Ralph McGill

Finally there’s this still-vacant parcel of land in Allen Plaza. There’s still a surplus of office space in the city, so another office building the size of the ones already in place might not do well.

An often-heard complaint about this development is that it just dies after 5 p.m. Whatever goes on this corner would need to give people who work in Allen Plaza a reason to stick around afterward, as well as drawing downtown residents, nearby hotel guests and maybe even people living in the newly-fashionable Westside.

This part of downtown is also lacking retail of any kind. Rarely does a week go by that a tourist or conventioneer doesn’t stop me somewhere between Peachtree Center and Civic Center to ask “Is there a drug store or grocery store anywhere around here?” If they’re still in the station, I tell them to just get back on the train and ride up to the Publix near Midtown station. If they’re out on the street, it’s a toss-up between telling them to take a taxi to North Avenue and Piedmont and saying “No, not really.”

Finally, although there’s a transit station barely two blocks away from this lot, there’s no rental housing anywhere nearby. Condos aren’t a sure bet any more, but there are still a lot of people who’d like to live a five minute walk from a transit station and right across from access to the expressways.

So, maybe this hole could be filled with a low-rise apartment building with a market on one side of the ground floor and a small, Churchill Grounds-sized live music venue on the other.

Are there any parking lots, dead spaces or derelict buildings in or around downtown that just annoy you every time you pass them? What would you put there?

Atlanta Streets Alive returns

ASA Edgewood Ave. street scene

The first of Atlanta Streets Alive’s two June events is today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This year’s ASA will take place along 20 blocks of what will become the first segment of the downtown streetcar’s route.  Guided bike tours will cover the entire route.

Stilt walkers

Photo by Flickr user Joel Mann

 

No bike? No problem. You can take a free ride along the route in one of ATL Cruzers‘ open-air electric cars.

The event is scheduled for some of the hottest hours of the day (although they’re all hot lately), but that just means more business for the ice cream and paleta vendors  at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market’s “Urban Picnic.”

The kick-off is at Woodruff park at 10 a.m., so get out there and run, ride, hoop, dance and get yourself some new tan lines.

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