Manuel’s Tavern loses some parking and gains respect
Manuel’s Tavern recently lost 30% of its customer parking because a lot they used to own is now being developed as townhomes. The AJC has the story.
Manuel’s isn’t worried about the loss, because they conducted a parking study and found that 22% of the cars that used this lot didn’t belong to its customers – which is not entirely surprising, since it was free parking.
Here’s what *is* surprising: a good local business like Manuel’s does the right thing by performing a parking study, but a massive institution like Emory Healthcare gets away with putting a 3,000-space, staff-only parking deck next to MARTA rail without doing a study first.
That makes no sense, and we should expect more from out major institutional land holders.
Anyway, thanks for doing the right thing, Manuel’s. In addition to selling surface parking for development, you actually studied the parking situation rather than just making assumptions. Maybe it’ll rub off on the rest of Atlanta.
Wow! Looks like the rumors were true. Atlanta’s Hulsey Yard rail facility, just north of Cabbagetown, has been emptied out! Can an announcement that CSX is selling it for development be far away?
I think it’s great that neighbors have already contracted someone to create a master plan for Hulsey Yard. Hopefully, this will prevent a major developer from buying it and building something here without public input.
Will the City of Atlanta government recognize the plan? I hope so.
Peachtree Street in Downtown Atlanta deserves a makeover for pedestrians
Posted by Darin Givens | May 2, 2019
I would love to see data on the number of cars coming through Peachtree Street in Downtown. I walk through here regularly on weekdays, to and from work, and see very little traffic.
This photo is from about 5:45pm on a weekday. Rush hour. My family lived a block off of Peachtree in Downtown for eight years before moving less than a year ago, and I never saw the car capacity being used to anywhere near its full extent here.
If these lanes are as underused as I suspect they are, it’s time for this part of Peachtree Street to be redesigned so that less width is devoted to cars and more is for pedestrians and cyclists.
I would certainly make use of any improvements for riding a bike through here. The Peachtree Center Avenue bike lane to the east connects cyclists to jack squat and takes them, dangerously, past a bunch of loading docks.
A bold plan from the city: creating a shared street
Fortunately, the city has an exciting plan that could see a stretch of Peachtree majorly transformed for the better.
Here’s a rendering from the city of what it could look like:
The “shared streets” in the proposal would see the physical barriers between sidewalks and streets would be removed, giving pedestrians priority and freedom to move around. Car drivers would be allowed, but only at slow speeds and always yielding to people on foot and on bikes.
The plan is in early stages. The City needs to do a feasibility study for costs and traffic impacts, then get approval from City Council.
Fingers crossed: this is the kind of bold plan we need for taking better advantage of the public domain of city streets, making them welcoming spaces for neighborhoods as well as multi-faceted mobility routes that connect people to places in ways other than just driving.
City streets crowded with people – that’s my jam. And despite the daunting scale and crowd size, thousands show up every year.
Browsing vendors and eating food from carts on a public street is obviously something Atlanta likes. I wish we could spread this kind of pedestrian-focused vending goodness over the year and across streets somehow.
What could you fit in all that disused space on Hilliard Street?
by Darin Givens | April 27, 2019
A bunch of unused land sits along Atlanta’s Hilliard Street one block north of Auburn Avenue, along the northeastern portion of the streetcar route in the Sweet Auburn neighborhood.
Some of it is behind a fence, some isn’t. A few cars are regularly parked on the street for free, in front of no destinations. But there could be great things here for the neighborhood and the city, including affordable housing.
This empty, disused land isn’t helping the community or the streetcar, which already suffers from too much poor land use on its route (as I’ve chronicled on a separate blog). It certainly isn’t helping any small businesses that open up on Auburn, which could benefit from added foot traffic.
What could fit in this area? And what’s the hold up?
About two thirds of Glenwood Park could fit here.
You could fit a lot of great things in this space. How much? Check out these two aerial images below. The top one shows the expanse of unused property and the bottom one – which is at the same scale – shows the rightly-celebrated Glenwood Park development in southeast Atlanta which contains homes, retail, offices, and a park, all in a great urban design.
Just by eyeballing the images, it looks like about two thirds of Glenwood Park could fit in those red blocks.
Here’s the unused land north of Auburn Avenue, along Hilliard Street:
And here’s the Glenwood Park development.
Who owns that land shaded in red anyway?
Most of the western (left) block is owned by the University System of Georgia on behalf of GSU. Why is GSU sitting on the property? It’s unclear. In 2013, the university demolished the Auburn Place Apartments that used to be here, announcing that they would put an athletic field in their place. But nothing’s been built. And since the owner is a state institution, no property tax is being paid on what they own – they’re exempt. That land generates no value to the community and no revenue either.
The rest of the land, on both blocks, is owned by a charitable foundation operated by nearby Wheat Street Baptist Church. Several years ago the church commissioned a very attractive master plan for the property. But the only thing they’ve actually done with it since then is evict a community garden and pave part of it for a parking lot that seems to always be empty (seen in the photo below).
Is anyone among City of Atlanta leadership in contact with USG or Wheat Street Baptist Church about these empty spaces? Someone should be. With the great need for affordable housing intown and for better use of land near transit investments, this should be a priority.
On Twitter, former Invest Atlanta board member Julian Bene replies that affordable housing may not be possible here because of the high land value. Very frustrating.
Fitting more households into walkable places is important for Atlanta’s affordability
The low supply of homes in walkable neighborhoods is a problem on many levels, one being affordability. An analysis from real estate company Redfin shows a clear link between the availability of walkable communities in a region (as measured by Walk Score) and the home prices within those communities.
Analysis clearly shows that if an urban region has a low supply of places inviting to pedestrians — with amenities easily reachable on foot — then the homes within that limited supply are more likely to have a high price tag.
Redfin found that that one single Walk Score point (like going from a score of 50 to 51 for a neighborhood) can increase the price of a home by an average of $3,250 or 0.9 percent.
But that’s a national average. Look at this chart of the places that experience the highest level of home-price increase for each added point in Walk Score. At the top: Atlanta.
This means that, when we measure the increase of walkable amenities in a neighborhood, Atlanta is the place where increases in those measured increments are having the biggest effect on home prices, sending them further upward. There are likely multiple reasons behind this, but one that Redfin points out is particularly important: limited supply. As the report states: “Outside of Midtown, walkable homes are a rarity in Atlanta.”
This is only one reason why it’s important to add new homes into our most walkable places, including ones that are currently zoned for nothing but single-family homes.
An apartment tower planned for Downtown will sit on top of an existing, giant parking deck (in red on the image below). Which sounds fine at first until you consider that the developer is adding hundreds more parking spaces as well.
Here’s a quote from the developer, via Curbed Atlanta:
“Ascent Peachtree will be one of the most transit-oriented residential projects in Atlanta,” [John Roberson, managing director of Development for Greystar]
Transit-oriented development on a parking deck? OK, the entrance to a MARTA station is a couple of blocks away. But this looks much more like a waste of transit’s potential, given the additional parking being added.
The map above shows the deck that’s getting the apartments on top (shaded in red), and the others nearby that aren’t (blue). That’s a buttload of parking to have near a train station and within a Downtown street grid, as is.
And even though the existing parking deck that’s getting the tower already has a whopping 2,088 (!!) spaces for car storage, the developer is adding an additional 429 spaces to go along with the 343 apartments they’re building. That’s nuts.
Here’s a rendering of the project, showing the existing deck on the bottom, the apartments on top, and the needless addition of parking in the middle.
Downtown Atlanta has far too many blocks that are blighted by parking, hindering its vibrancy, generating car trips, and wasting the potential of a transit-rich historic street grid. It’s past time for Downtown to have a strategy for sharing the capacity of what parking exists so that we aren’t building more.
Let’s start managing parking at the district level, not at the development level, Atlanta. Think about what is already in place and strategize around that, with an eye on preventing any net gain in car trips in Downtown and encouraging transit use.
With any conversation we have about reducing car trips in the Atlanta region (including topics such as congestion pricing, transit ridership, and parking reform), negative externalities need to be taken into consideration. Particularly when they affect the most vulnerable among us, such as children.
And a newly released study makes it clear just how much we’re hurting children with traffic pollution, by way of asthma cases. It find that kids living in urban areas have twice the percentage of asthma cases attributable to traffic pollution as compared to ones living in rural areas.
A research team working with the University of Washington has created an interactive map of counties in the U.S. where the burden of childhood asthma is most closely related to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), a strong sign of traffic-related air pollution.
It covers the years 2000 and 2010. The image below shows the Atlanta region from the 2010 map and the core counties where traffic pollution is causing the most childhood asthma.
Whether it’s from traffic emissions or deadly pedestrian collisions, car-dependent urban design is a serious health issue that affects vulnerable groups such as children and lower-income people who can’t afford a car (and who are increasingly stuck in car-centric places in the suburbs). We need to make hard decisions about how much we drive in Atlanta, and how much our urban design promotes alternatives.