Jennifer Ball, vice president of planning and economic development for Central Atlanta Progress, discussed the overall plan and vision for downtown Atlanta at the first Urban Fellows breakfast on Aug. 28.
Ball began by briefly describing Central Atlanta Progress's overall plan for Atlanta. At the heart of this plan is the Imagine Downtown initiative, a joint effort with the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District. This initiative aims to make downtown an attractive place to work by providing citizens with more transit and open spaces. The goal is for downtown to become a 24-hour community where a person can live, work and play.
However, Ball said there are many challenges to overcome, including the lack of housing and living space within downtown, describing it as a place to, "come, work and then leave for home again." To combat the work only reputation of downtown, the center is working with developers and retailers to create more mixed-use developments that incorporate retail, home and office space.
Next, Ball described the Atlanta Streetcar, an electrically run vehicle attached to an overhead trolley line. The benefits of the streetcar are, "The ability to move people, both residents and visitors, around downtown cheaply and easily. Additionally, with the streetcars' connectivity to the new Atlanta Beltline as well as MARTA, Atlanta will begin to have a competitive downtown transit system."
The streetcar project also will reduce emissions and Atlanta's dependence on cars along live-work corridors, Ball says. The first phase will connect east and west downtown, running from the King Center to Centennial Olympic Park. It is scheduled to open in fall 2013.
The final project Ball discussed with the Urban Fellows was the proposed Multi-Modal passenger terminal. The terminal at the Gulch near the Georgia Dome and Phillips Arena is considered by many as blight. Redevelopment of this area into a central hub for all public transit in the community including rail, bus, and bike, will revitalize this area, Ball says.
This year the Urban Fellows Program, an interdisciplinary initiative of College of Law's Center for Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth, has expanded to more than 70 participants from across Georgia State University including the College of Law, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Art and Design, and Institute of Public Health. Students from Georgia Institute of Technology's School of City and Regional Planning and Emory University School of Law also participate.
The Urban Fellows students are future city leaders who will shape Atlanta and cities across the world. Allowing these students to be educated about and partake in the creation, planning and execution of city projects allows our city to have a bright future.