Posts Tagged ‘downtown’

RUMOR: What’s Missing in Downtown?

I often find myself needing cheese for dinner. (Here’s a little insight into my culinary prowess: melt cheese on or into whatever it is you’re cooking, and it will taste better). I work in midtown and live just east of downtown and thus constantly curse the lack of “pick up some cheese on the way home” options. It’s tough to go a mile out of your way on a bicycle, and completely out of the question in this heat, so I plan my route meticulously. I’ve also found it’s best to minimize my “hangry” time before dinner.

Which is why I got all excited when I heard a rumor about the next tenant for the space next to the CNN Center (the now-shuttered Golden Buddha) …. a GROCERY STORE?  Fair warning: there’s a chance this rumor turns out to be someone just being wishful, but I sure have my fingers crossed. Boy would another Trader Joe’s be nice.

Anyone think a grocery store can survive here? Between tourists looking for sunscreen and snacks, GSU students, and Fairlie Poplar/downtown residents for a small, basic destination for staples? Or is it destined to leave me cheeseless on the way home?

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.

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?

Public Hearing on the Downtown Streetcar

Image courtesy of Georgia Transit ConnectorWhether the downtown streetcar project has you saying “Yay!” or “#$%&!” or just “Huh?” you’ll want to get to the second public hearing  that the Federal Transit Administration, the City of Atlanta and MARTA are holding Monday evening.

If you’re in the “Huh?” crowd, have a look at the Atlanta Streetcar Environmental Assessment (big PDF) before you go. It’s long, but pretty much every speck of information in the streetcar project is there, all in one package. Just <Ctrl+F> to search for a term if you don’t have time to pore over every one of the 345 pages between now and Monday afternoon.

Time and place:

December 13, 2010
5:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m.
Auburn Avenue Research Library
4th Floor Auditorium
101 Auburn Avenue NE
Atlanta, Ga. 30303

H/T to Creative Loafing.

Any predictions for pedicabs’ prospects for profitability?

NYC pedicab

Flickr photo by J. Yung

District 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall wants to see pedicabs back on the streets in Atlanta.

The three-wheeled people-pullers disappeared from the city in the 1990s, according to Sunday’s AJC story, after running afoul of the already highly competitive taxi industry.

But with pedicabs now operating in Decatur and Marietta, and a prominent council member behind the effort, things could work out differently this time.

Compact and pollution-free? Yes.

Cheaper than a taxi to go just a few blocks? Almost certainly.

But, will touists or locals take to them? They certainly didn’t seem to have any use for the Circulator bus routes several years ago, despite the effort and expense MARTA went to with buying new redesigning buses and heavily publicizing the new routes.

Horse-drawn carriages still manage to eke out some business, though. Maybe novelty is more of a draw than speed sometimes.

Has anyone lived anywhere that had a long-standing pedicab business? Ever used one? Would you?

Atlanta Streets Alive – Again

ASA fall posterIf you missed it (or had a great time at) the first one, there’s another chance to stroll the center city at Atlanta Streets Alive tomorrow, October 17.

The 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. time slot is the same as in May, but the street closures are a little less ambitious this time. Activities will be centered on Woodruff Park and Hurt Park, and along Edgewood Avenue between Peachtree and Raldolph Streets. The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition-led bike loop is back too, this time at 4.4 miles.

Even if you’re not into biking, skating, jumping, hula hooping, drumming or dancing, ASA will be a chance to sample the wares from several Atlanta Street Food Coalition members’ food trucks, with plenty of ensembles providing music to eat by. And all on a day when the high is expected to be around 75, rather than 95. Can’t beat that.

Dunces in a Confederacy Against Him

One of my absolute all-time favorite books is A Confederacy of Dunces. I laugh aloud at Ignatius. It’s an amazing thing to me for a book to actually make someone laugh aloud, to the point of eye rolling by others in the room. (Which may or may not have happened repeatedly the last time I read it). For those who haven’t read it, the book is a first novel, written by John Kennedy Toole and published posthumously, about a great blasphemous child-man who knows that he is simply too smart for his own good, but isn’t really. Him and his momma, and a seedy bar, and a pants factory. And it’s set in New Orleans, in the 60’s, with characters that are despicable and pitiful or conniving and hilarious, or all four.

I was thrilled to see that a stage adaptation of Confederacy is running right now at um, Theatrical Outfit, a group that I’m ashamed to say I had never heard of.  Even though they have been on Luckie Street in downtown since 2004, and has been running since 1974. Information on the show is here – warning, video automatically starts streaming, and CL review is here.  They’ve extended their run to September 12th. I plan on attending that last weekend – has anyone seen the show? Planning on it?

Portman at the High

Has anyone been to the John Portman exhibition at the High ? I’d forgotten about it until this story in The Architect’s Newspaper (via Planetizen) popped up in my RSS reader.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_ii-54NTyM&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

I’ve been a bystander in a lot of online and in-person conversations about his work in Atlanta and sometimes it’s hard to believe that everyone is talking about the same guy. In any discussion of his influence on downtown you’re likely to hear both giddy, glowing praise and profane vituperations fit for a pirate ship. It’s hard not to want to know more about someone like that.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

whither underground?

apparently youre still there, underground (photo by Tom_Moeller1963)

apparently you're still there, underground (photo by Tom_Moeller1963)

i was chatting on the googles with ben the other day and i asked him when the last time he was actually in underground atlanta was. even though both ben and i spend a fair amount of time downtown, we both had to admit that neither one of us has actually been in underground atlanta in ages.

well the rumors of underground’s demise need to be confirmed or dispelled we decided, and since the place is still there, functioning and at the center of downtown, we decided we really need to check it out.

so we’re going on a little field trip to see what’s up at underground. shop a little, grab some lunch at the waffle house, who knows? i mean if nothing else, it appears there is an “as seen on tv” store there, and god knows i could use a new popeil pocket fisherman

one thing is for sure you can bet that one or both of us will most certainly report back here on what we find.

oh, and open invitaiton, so email me at jeherv@thearcoftime.com if you want the details. saturday afternoon sometime….

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