Atlanta Ever More Urban; Even Suburbs Becoming Newly Urban
Covering almost 8,400 square miles– the size of Massachusetts– Metropolitan Atlanta may well have earned its title as the King of Sprawl.
That is rapidly changing, however– it may soon need a new moniker.
In Downtown, Midtown, the Westside, and Buckhead, skyscrapers and midrises– most of them mixed use developments– have been completed, planned or are under construction on many of the vacant parking lots that used to be spotted all over. Atlantans are moving into highrises, midrises and townhomes in droves, from Downtown all the way out to the suburbs and exurbs. Even a new urbanist utopian town is rising amongst the forest and horse pastures of the Chattahoochee Hills way south of the city. MARTA heavy rail use is up, streetcars are nearly opened and bicycle lanes and paths are being implemented.
As it turns out, not surprisingly, Atlantans love to walk– to restaurants, cafes, parks, and urban trails like the Atlanta BeltLine.
Downtown, more residential units are being built than in many decades prior. This includes hundreds of units for Georgia State University, which is growing rapidly and constructing massive additional buildings to its urban campus. On the west, the new spectacular Falcons stadium, a 2000 room hotel, and street level retail and restaurants are being designed to connect the nearby neighborhoods of English Avenue, Vine City and artsy Castleberry Hill to Downtown. The Atlanta Streetcar is bringing more retail, residential units and townhomes to Sweet Auburn on the east which connects to trendy Old 4th Ward (O4W).
But Midtown is where the real action is.
It is exploding with residential skyscrapers and midrises– almost all with street level retail. Townhomes are being integrated into edges of the historic residential neighborhood of Midtown. Georgia Tech is expanding its high tech city which jumped over the highway and is building at least 3 to 4 tall skyscrapers to house more students and accomodate ever more technology education.
There are many, many skyscrapers planned, most of which I will not show in this post, because I would like to focus upon the midrises, mixed-use complexes and townhouses which really are making the city more walkable and urban.
Just to the east, the impressive Ponce City Market has just opened– Atlanta’s own Chelsea Market.
Welcome to the wild Westside.
Formerly a warehouse and industrial district near Atlantic Station– the successful mid-2000’s mega mixed multi-plex– the midtown Westside is exploding, too, with midrises, retail, and townhomes.
Never to be outdone, Buckhead is reaching new heights (literally) of urbane glamour.
Ultra luxe mixed-use mega complex Buckhead Atlanta has opened its well-heeled streets of skyscraping residences, designer boutiques, and celebrity chef restaurants. This will be soon surrounded by more urban developments due to its success and near complete build-out of the Lenox Square/ Phipps Plaza/ Tower Place neighborhoods.
In many other intown neighborhoods, density is being supported– even demanded– by local Atlanta citizens.
Beautiful Glenwood Park was an early new urbanism success. This was followed by mixed use developments in Edgewood, Kirkwood, Inman Park, Brookhaven and other neighborhoods becoming more dense and walkable.
Atlanta’s next huge urban mixed-use development,
just barely ITP (inside the Perimeter highway), is likely to be Doraville’s General Motors brownfield which is being transformed into a new live-work-play urban district, not too unlike Atlantic Station, except well connected to the MARTA rail.
Close in, the 1950’s-60’s suburbs of Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, as well as historic small towns of Roswell and Alpharetta are getting complete makeovers in the new urbanism style. They are building entire new downtowns with walkable streets, urban parks, plazas, city halls, libraries and performing arts centers. High Street is an audacious plan to make Perimeter Center into a dense, urban area next to the Perimeter MARTA station. Upon completion it would cover 42 acres with 8 million square feet of mixed-use space.
But everywhere, new metro Atlanta townhomes are being built, many with retail villages. Way outside Atlanta, the most ambitious example is Woodstock, GA, 30 miles north of Downtown Atlanta. Also notable is Vickery, in Cumming GA, near Lake Sidney Lanier a much loved recreational lake.
Finally, 33 miles south of Downtown Atlanta grows the new urbanism green utopia of Serenbe.
Set amongst protected pastoral horse farms and old growth woods, Serenbe is a new kind of new urbanism. It is the epitome of a farm-to-table, eco-loving, artist colony urban village– in the country, and has been recognized in the NY Times a notable number of times.