Posts Tagged ‘development’

Underground Atlanta: What to throw away, what to keep

It’s the time of year when people start to organize and cull their stuff (again). The time of year when they finally acknowledge that they’re not going to spend “twenty minutes a day, three days a week” on that exercise gadget and put it in the box to go to Goodwill. Out go the fondue pots, the graphing calculator from college, the too-small shorts and the “What is that thing, anyway?”

So, what are we going to do with this?Underground sign - northeast corner

It’s not rare to hear the opinion that Underground Atlanta has outlived its usefulness, but we can’t just put it on a truck, drive it up Marietta Street and leave it at the Salvation Army across from Georgia Tech. Besides, it’s not as if it’s not serving any purpose at all. The streets right around Five Points and Underground are very active during the day and the stores and restaurants there are managing to stay afloat because people do go there.

The problem is that not many of those people are downtown residents (who would keep the streets active at night) or tourists or business travelers (who tend to spend a lot of money). By about 6 p.m. the students, office workers and shoppers are gone and the place is mostly dead, left for a variety of unofficial uses.

The attempt to turn Underground into a nightlife destination to replace Buckhead Village was less than a blazing success and the leaseholders’ proposal to create a hotel and casino complex there isn’t likely to rise from the dead. Maybe what’s needed there isn’t necessarily something unique, but just something that will work. By “work” I mean it will get people of varying ages and backgrounds down there at least 12 hours per day and that it will be appealing to people who live, work and go to school downtown, and to people who are just passing through. If it attracts people from other parts of the city and even outside the city, so much the better, but that might be expecting too much.

If you had unlimited money but only about two years to do it, how would you turn Underground around?

Fill In the Blanks

Remember when this was a club? “Jaguar,” I think it was called. Now it’s just a very empty building on a very prominent corner. But that’s only half of what’s wrong. The other half is what’s not there.

Thousands of people live and work a 10-minute walk from that building, and that’s leaving aside the thousands of people who pass through Arts Center Station every day. If any of them need to buy anything other than prepared food or coffee, they have to go to the Publix near Midtown Station or in Atlantic Station, or to the CVS at Peachtree and 6th. That erstwhile nightspot would be the perfect site for a Walgreens or for someone local to open a drugstore/market combo. That parcel of land is pretty small, but a two-level or slightly downsized version could fit. It wouldn’t even need to be open 24 hours..

Two blocks south is this derelict duo, West Peachtree and 13th(whose appearance is not at all enhanced by the ever-droopier power lines). The one on the left is brick, so it might be salvageable…in a few years when we’ve run through the surplus of condos. It’s hard to think of something useful to build there, given the size and position of the lots.  How about replacing these two condemnations-in-waiting with a tiny park?

Another notable nowhere is the restaurant graveyard at the corner of Piedmont and Morosgo. Corner of Piedmont and MorosgoI’ve lost count of the number of establishments that have met their doom there. Whatever occupies this site next, it obviously shouldn’t involve food. Same goes for its sister eyesore next door, the former Shoney’s.

Put those two lots together, though, and there’s enough space for a two-level gym built right on the street, with parking behind and beneath. With the Buckhead Crunch and Lindbergh Bally both sunk, there’s not a full-service fitness facility in that neighborhood any more. People who pass through Lindbergh Station could get their workouts in right before or after work without having to think about parking.(Of course what really ought to be on that corner is a stop for the light rail line that should be running the length of Piedmont from Turner Field to Roswell Road, but that’s a whole different fantasy.)

Finally, let’s not leave out everyone’s favorite conspicuous void: The Mistake Streets of Buckhead.
The whole “Rodeo Drive of the Southeast” notion might need some adjustment at this point. Obviously, some degree of fancy-ness is required to generate the “destination” aspect Ben Carter is so hot on, so you can’t stack it with stores in the vein of Forever 21. But you also can’t keep a development going on platinum yo-yos and yoga mats for teacup poodles. Even people who can buy $1000 purses aren’t going to come around for one every week.

So, what DO we need right there? Other than the MARTA station that should have been built there 20 years ago, that is.

I could go on and on (I really could) about all the nothings that ought to be somethings around here. What empty or underutilized space is bugging you? If you had several million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, what project would you put some of the metro area’s roughly 275,000 unemployed people to work on?

Rare TIGER escapes, derails streetcar

The Atlanta Streetcar might be stuck on the drawing board for a while yet. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the recipients of federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants on February 17 and the streetcar project wasn’t on the list. The city of Atlanta, MARTA, Central Atlanta Progress and Midtown Alliance partnered to apply for TIGER funds for the transit project, which is projected to cost $298.3 million.


Atlanta wasn’t the only city that TIGER got away from. None of the other 32 Georgia communities that applied for grants received funding either.

If built as planned, the Atlanta Streetcar project would include a route on Peachtree from Five Points station to Savannah College of Art and Design and an east-west loop from the Centennial Olympic Park/Georgia Aquarium area to the King Center. An alternative plan, also included in the partnership’s application, proposes options for building the streetcar in phases if it can’t be funded all at once.


las vegas – underground style.

well i saw it in the ajc today. someone is back with the most colossally stupid idea for downtown revitalization i can think of. according to today’s ajc, a developer is back pitching the idea of turning underground atlanta into a casino.

i rememebr this idea coming up before when i lived in atlanta back in 1999 and i think i remember it being pitched again a few years ago.

i have a feeling there is plenty of research to back me up, though i am not going to go look for it right now, but just on the face of it , i can’t think of anything worse for downtown atlanta than a casino.

maybe a strip club. maybe.

seriously, the point of this post was to query if anyone out there thinks this is a good idea.


how about my downtown guys…ben? rashid?

you go….downtown.

we have been having a rather spirited discussion across several blogs about the fate of downtown atlanta and what it might take to actually revitalize it and make it a place people would want to visit.

some of the best commentary i have read came from rashid muhammad in his post on the topic:

Anyhow, my Downtown Unification Theory has always been that if Five Points is going to be what it should – that would be a hub of downtown activity – connecting it to Centennial Park is the key. The problem with doing this via Marietta Street is that there are several buildings there that darken the path at night (State Bar, AJC, Telecom Tower, DFACS, HUD, etc) and offer little value to the visitor during the day. Luckie Street could also serve this purpose but at LEAST two of the parking lots there would have to be replaced by buildings that contain some sort of restaurants or entertainment. Right now the street lining is too perforated and not inviting enough for any tourist to really want to explore it much further than the Super 8 Motel. If the lot across from 123 Luckie were replaced with a nice development putting more stuff to do on the street that would be a big improvement.

ben k weighs in on his new atlanta real estate blog, terminal station:

Realistically, I think Five Points plaza will be the last place in Downtown to turn around. All the positive movement is happening on the peripherals – Castleberry Hill, the Allen Plaza and 12 Centennial stuff at the north side of downtown, Integral Group’s stuff on Auburn and even Capitol Gateway. That is a lot of housing to absorb, but if it can happen, then it will start bleeding into the real core of downtown, which has always been Five Points. I don’t think GSU will build their dorms at Underground any time soon, so these areas are going to have to be the driving forces that eventually squeeze Five Points and put enough pressure on things to force changes.

i have been falling in love with the architecture and the feel of downtown atlanta for months now; really since i started taking the bus to five points every day.

i would love so much to see it become the vibrant, integral community it could be. i am curious what you guys think. i don’t think it’s as easy as ‘get rid of the panhandlers.’

my suggestions include; an underground bus terminal, the revitlization of alabama street through tax incentives and finally figure out something to do with the railway gulch

please opine…..

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