“A more or less regular compilation of news, factoids and observations”
June 23, 2014
by Harold V. Shumacher
Atlanta Street Car Taking Shape
Depending on who you talk or listen to, the Atlanta Street car line, scheduled to open in mid -fall, is either a boondoggle or the savior of downtown Atlanta. Like many things in life, the truth likely lies in the middle.
This is what we can tell you based on a recent stroll along the route. The roughly 3 mile loop goes through a combination of some of Atlanta’s most historic and lesser- known neighborhoods while providing easy access for out of towners to major tourist attractions like The King Center and Centennial Olympic Park.
The most intriguing portion, at least from a retail/restaurant development perspective is the stretch of Edgewood Avenue, starting just east of Georgia State and stretching approximately a mile before the route bends north, to Auburn Avenue, and turns back west. There are several restaurants already in place here including Noni’s, The Sound Table, Pizzeria Vesuvius, and Harold’s Chicken plus a growing number of interesting food stalls at the Auburn Avenue Curb Market. Small retailers, are also beginning to make their presence felt, several in pop up shops along the proposed route. We were particularly intrigued with a sock store, a modern Jewery store and a bakery, all side-by-side along Auburn Avenue.
If you’re not familiar with Auburn Avenue, in the days before integration it was considered one of the most successful “black streets in America.” Numerous retailers, bars, restaurants, clubs, banks, insurance offices and even undertakers were to be found there along with three historic churches, Wheat Street, Ebenzeer and Big Bethel, all of which are major parts of Atlanta history.
As you crest the hill, on Auburn, and come to Peachtree Street, where the route turns north for two blocks before heading west, you enter another Atlanta. The Atlanta of big business, the Georgia Pacific Headquarters, the beginning of Peachtree Center, the Ritz Carlton Hotel and the former Macy’s, before descending into the Fairlie Poplar entertainment district, which includes the Rialto Theater, the Theatrical Outfit and The Tabernacle.
The final leg, running parallel to Centennial Park, allows for easy access to the Georgia Aquarium, the recently opened Center for Human and Civil Rights, the World of Coca Cola and the soon- to -open College Football Hall of Fame. The route then turns back east, before ending on the Georgia State side of Woodruff Park.
If you haven’t been to Centennial Park in a while, or ever, it’s vastly transformed from its days during the Olympics and is now a pleasant tree-lined oasis in the heart of Atlanta. If the city, has a front yard this is it.
The journey described above is going to happen the following needs a little imagination but is also coming closer to reality.
It’s 2020 and you’re driving I-285 east to west across the top end of the Atlanta perimeter between I-85 and I-75 (Norcross to Smyrna.)
First you pass the recently completed mixed use development at the former GM plant. Now home to apartments, shops, restaurants, maybe an amphitheater all nestled against a MARTA station.
Four miles to the West, State Farm’s massive corporate headquarters is also completed, adjacent to another MARTA station and Perimeter Mall. The 500,000 sq. ft. campus houses thousands of employees, many of whom can walk to the recently constructed apartments, town houses and condo’s surrounding the campus.
Further west, at the intersection of I-75 and 285, the new location for the Atlanta Braves Stadium, connected by surface streets, moving sidewalks and sky bridges to nearby parking and clusters of restaurants, hotels and retailers.
Far fetched. Not in the least as all three of these projects are in the works today.
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