BOX 5-1

A Tale of Two Brownfields: Atlantic Station and Edgewood Avenue

Edgewood Retail, in close proximity to two MARTA stations, is the former site of Atlanta Gas Light office and maintenance facility. ARC’s initial review of the redevelopment proposal was that it was “not in the best interest” of the community. The developer added 44 percent more residential units, planned residential and office space above commercial and retail stores, and proposed a shuttle circulator to MARTA stations, thereby improving pedestrian connection. With these changes in place, ARC changed its ruling to “in the best interest” of the community. The project was carried out and completed, creating a major new retail center in an urban location. The project is pedestrian-friendly and contains multiple connections to the neighboring community. Its high occupancy rates are notable as well. However, the project has few public gathering areas and little park area. It is also still fairly difficult to traverse as a pedestrian and contains more parking spaces than necessary. Affordable housing is limited, and commercial occupancy is composed mostly of national retail chains.

Atlantic Station, another recently redeveloped brownfield site, is located near the midtown Atlanta MARTA and is the site of an old steel mill. As with the Edgewood site, ARC’s initial review also deemed this project “not in the best interest” of the community because it lacked funding for a bridge necessary to connect it to the adjacent neighborhood. But the governor created a “green light” committee to resolve issues with the 17th Street bridge, and the city gave approval for its construction. Atlantic Station was designated a tax allocation district to raise revenue for development.

Atlantic Station has succeeded in turning a low-value parcel of property into a vibrant, tax-revenue-generating property. It reused a significant amount of the mill’s concrete from old foundation and became an excellent example of environmental remediation. Its high-intensity mixed-use development complements Midtown and hosts numerous attractions such as Cirque de Soleil, Bodies, and Dialogue in the Dark. Atlantic Station has a shuttle connection to MARTA boasting high ridership—high enough that there is discussion of converting the route to light rail. However, office and retail occupancy is not as high as desired, and the connections to neighboring districts are limited. Pedestrian access from Midtown is difficult, though internally it is quite walkable.

Source: Weyandt (2010).

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