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The right & wrong ways to revitalize Atlanta’s South Downtown

This AJC report on a company named Newport USA reveals that it could very well hold the key to revitalizing a large section of South Downtown.

They’ve recently purchased 25 old buildings on Peachtree, Broad and Mitchell streets south of the Five Points MARTA station, with no intention of demolition. They want to renovate the structures and bring new life to them. Preservation + renovation + use = exactly the right thing for South Downtown’s historic stock of commercial buildings.

South Downtown
Above: Peachtree Street in South Downtown on a recent weekday evening, with closed stores and largely-unused portions of buildings.

And the company is also in talks to acquire nearby surface parking lots for future development. More goodness. Surface parking blights a large portion of South Downtown, wasting the potential of the walkable street grid and of the MARTA access, with multiple rail stations in the neighborhood.

Above: the surface parking lots surrounding South Downtown’s Garnett MARTA Station.

This quote from the article is one that rings the “good urbanism” gong particularly loudly:

“Newport US is also not planning to add new structured parking, because of the area’s connectivity to MARTA. That would avoid substantial development costs that could help keep rents lower for residents and commercial tenants, but also flies in the face of Atlanta’s car-centric culture.”

That’s perfect. Building a future oriented toward transit rather than cars.

Now, can someone please remind us how a suburban Walmart shopping center developer like WRS, who *does* want to add parking next to South Downtown’s Five Points MARTA Station, got a hold of Underground Atlanta when there are obviously developers afoot who understand urbanism and the context of this transit-rich spot?

Don’t bother answering. We know the answer. Vote well this fall in Atlanta’s mayoral and council elections.