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Thread ATL is Helping to Raise Money to Challenge Privatization of Downtown Streets

The City of Atlanta recently authorized the transfer of several blocks of Downtown streets to a private developer as part of the sale of Underground Atlanta.


We believe this transfer goes against every principle of sound city planning and, more importantly, limits the rights of the people to be in our public spaces, our streets, and sidewalks. Marchers, like those the one pictured above (crossing Upper Alabama Street), could be arrested for trespassing on private property turned away.

Moreover, we have reason to believe that this transfer violates city and state laws regarding required public notification and input and approval.

A lawyer has been retained to file a “demand letter” against the transfer on behalf of concerned citizens. The legal fees for filing alone are $1,000. Thread ATL will be holding an event, Monday December 26th, at the Georgia Beer Garden for further discussion and fundraising. Online donations are accepted here.

What does a “win” look like with this legal action?

At the very least, a win would see the City put in writing (ordinance, deed restriction, etc.) that the privatized streets will function as public streets. There are streets elsewhere in the City that are like this – including Peachtree Place between 999 Peachtree and Metropolis.

A better win is that the City delays the deal to go back and do the proper notification and other procedures that were waived – a cost assessment/appraisal, traffic study, etc. At the end of the day, the street may still be given to the developer but all parties will have a chance to weigh in and we’ll have a better understanding of the pros and cons of private ownership.

An even better win is that the City rescinds the ordinance and we carry on with the street being public like it has been since the 1840s, while a redevelopment of Underground Atlanta happens on the properties around the street.

Upper Alabama is already blocked to cars. Atlanta has given streets to developers before. Why are these blocks special?

Mayor Reed has said multiple times that the future of mobility for Atlanta is transit. Access to transit stations requires walkability. You can’t encourage walkability by requiring people to walk farther. This Underground Atlanta property is the eastern gateway to Five Points MARTA Station which is, according to MARTA’s statistics, the largest and most heavily used station in the system. Easy walkability for ALL people (not just whomever the private security allows) should be paramount here.

Furthermore, streets and sidewalks are our largest public space. Where everyone has the right to be. We’re losing public space and the freedom it affords with this deal.

Who are you people? Is Thread ATL more than a Facebook page and website?

Yes we are, and we’re working on growing. Any additional funds beyond legal costs will enable Thread ATL to host events rent event spaces for public discussions and panels, as well as help us form a formalize our legal status as an entity so that we can continue to educate and engage the political process.