Several months ago, Emory Healthcare proposed a hulking parking deck with over 3,000 spaces on the northernmost end of Downtown Atlanta, off of West Peachtree Street — now Atlantans are voicing opinions against it.
The Downtown Neighborhood Association has written a letter in opposition to the proposal (included below, in full). We hear that the project is in limbo now after the City essentially allowed Emory to go back to the drawing board in hopes that they will create something more urban-appropriate that the City can support. Here’s the empty spot where the parking deck would go, below.
It’s worth noting that the empty space above is only two blocks from the Civic Center MARTA Station, and from the proposed Stitch cap over the interstate. It also sits within the boundaries of Downtown Atlanta. The Downtown Atlanta Master Plan approved by City Council calls for no new car trips in the city center, near these places with so much potential for growth in walking, cycling, and transit use.
A massive beast of a parking deck will no doubt work against those goals. It would also, arguably, work against our goals for addressing climate change in the wake of studies showing vehicle emissions to be the biggest contributor to C02 in the U.S. And it’s worth asking how a 3000 spot parking deck 2 blocks from transit in an urban core aligns with Emory’s own often-promoted sustainability vision.
Below is a photo of one of several large parking facilities that already sit next to Emory and the Civic Center MARTA Station and the proposed Stitch cap. In front, you can see people waiting for a MegaBus.
The opposition letter from ADNA
- Increase traffic on overburdened streets
- Hamper any improvement in Downtown’s walkability by continuing a “car-first” mentality
- Further contribute to negative health effects that car pollution has on Downtown residents
- Diminish what it means to live Downtown as folks continue to see Downtown as merely a place to drive in and out of as quickly as possible.
- 922 people contributed their views to the plan in face to face sessions
- 9090 people contributed their views via online surveys
- Steered by CAP a private, non-profit community development organization funded by businesses in Downtown Atlanta.
- Adopted as part of the Atlanta Comprehensive Development Plan in December 2017
As Downtown continues to grow, the solution is not to build wider roads or more parking. We do not have the space to do so without sacrificing the very things that add economic value to Downtown like more housing, growing businesses, and new destinations.
- EUHM should transition from an 80% subsidy for transit users to 100%.
- Their current monthly parking fee for those who opt to drive should be raised from its subsidized rate of $10 to something in line with the market rate.
We understand that MARTA’s service hours will not serve everyone at a hospital that requires 24/7 staffing. However, by increasing the share of their staff which opts for transit –currently a dismal 13%– the hospital’s existing parking can be freed up sufficiently for those who cannot use transit due to schedule constraints.
What is needed is better management of the parking that exists to free up land for new uses and reduce the costs of development.
Downtown is home to a significant number of employees and some of the region’s largest corporations. Currently, almost 99% of Downtown employees commute from outside of Downtown. Many will continue to do so, but others may be interested in owning or renting a home Downtown, close to where they work, with the right incentive. Employee Assisted Housing programs offer ranges of financial incentives to make the case for living near the office. Partnerships with major corporations could result in an incentive package for employees to choose housing options in or near Downtown.
Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association
Thanks much to ADNA for giving us permission to publish the letter above. Let’s all keep an eye on this proposal as it evolves, and let’s also take this letter as an example of how we can be involved in the built environments of our neighborhoods and push for good urbanism, and support master plans.
Interested in getting involved in your own neighborhood association? The City of Atlanta has a list of the names of all of them here, with links for many.
UPDATE! Zoning Review Board approves deck
We’ve learned that the Zoning Review Board (ZRB) voted just a few days ago to approve the 3,000 space parking deck with conditions, based on recommendation from staff at the Department of City Planning. You can see the full approval notice about 30 pages into this packet from the City.
Here are the conditions, which include bicycle parking, a prohibition of pedestrian bridges, and the termination of a parking lease that Emory holds on another nearby deck.
We don’t know all the facts, and we’ll update this post if we find out more. At this point, we don’t think this should be interpreted as a “loss” or as a failure on the part of the residents who spoke out. We just don’t know enough about it to say what happened.
In the mean time, you can continue reach out to your city council members and the mayor, who will ultimately decide if the deck project proceeds!