Fill In the Blanks, Round 2: Downtown

 

Former BP station - Ponce and Piedmont

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

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

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?

2 Comments so far

  1. abby on June 23rd, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

    In your first photo, I would LOVE to see a coffee shop/sandwich
    shop/bakery. Love the style of old gas stations (Leon’s, the
    Standard/Young Augustine’s, U-Joint, etc), but wonder if there
    would be a high price on cleanup (do you have to get rid of the
    underground tanks?). And parking still would be an issue, for COA
    permitting at least, but there might be enough on the little lot
    alone. Parks unfortunately don’t turn a profit for the landowner.
    Not that that huge piece of land is doing much for them now … And
    finally, I’d like to think a little neighborhood market would do
    okay downtown. Not a Savi or Mercantile or Little’s, but something
    a little more practical. Like the Woolworth’s that used to be in
    Peachtree Center back in the day. Downtown seems to have more
    people living there than it did just 5 years ago. If a low rise
    apartment building was priced reasonably, it could even attract GSU
    students. I’d vote yes on that one, but, um, won’t be putting any
    money up on it :)


  2. Tamra (tlt0912) on June 23rd, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

    There were originally a couple of lines in there about remediation
    but they got cut for the sake of brevity. Rolling Bones and Diesel
    are also former disused gas stations, aren’t they? Maybe there are
    loans or grants that business owners can get from the city, county
    or state for rehabbing places like that. I’ll have to look into
    that.



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