The Beltline was envisioned as an innovative way to address multiple concerns facing Atlanta, including affordable housing and transit, and in respect to those two concerns, it’s succeeded. It has pushed away even the idea of affordable housing anywhere within sight of the mixed-use trail, and it’s almost completely disconnected from transit, sorry Lenox. It’s almost like the Shops Buckhead Atlanta, where “[b]istro tables on canopied sidewalks beckon. Window-shopping is a coveted pastime …. A walkable city sanctuary where art, style and ambiance converge,” but without the bistro tables on canopied sidewalks or window shopping. Wait, do the Shops have that? I wouldn’t know; I’ve not been. At least it’s walkable, if you can find parking.
I guess that’s a pleasant way to describe the situation, depending on one’s priorities. According to this AJC blog post that’s not much more than a link to this blog post by Ryan Gravel, true success for the Beltline might depend on further action. Gravel articulates a compelling and thoughtful argument for completing the transit element of the Beltline while also hitting on a bigger point about responsible democracy. Voters approved a plan for building and strengthening community, not to create an exclusive shopping mall.
In my last post, I expressed my joy at seeing Atlantans taking full advantage of the Beltline as it currently exists and shaping it into something of the grand public space this city has lacked, and more recently, I was happy to see the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation taking steps to rehabilitate and preserve affordable housing along the Beltline in West Atlanta.
The Trust’s president and CEO explains that “a neighborhood is more than its physical buildings—it is also the sense of community which is established by residents who have multigenerational relationships that are now being threatened by irresponsible real estate speculation.”