Below are some excerpts:
“The Eastside Trail, as the path is known, is one of the first legs of an ambitious proposal that has been in the works since the early 2000s — to transform 22 miles of vine-covered railroad into parks, housing and public transit around Atlanta.”
“We are changing Atlanta into a city that you can enjoy by walking and riding a bike,” Mayor Kasim Reed said. “We have been so car-centric that you didn’t experience the city in an intimate way.”
“Projects like this come along very rarely,” said Christopher B. Leinberger, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in urban redevelopment. “If Atlanta finds money to add rail, the BeltLine will be one of the most important transportation projects of the 21st century.”
“People want to live in a city where the design makes sense,” Mr. Gravel said. “It’s not only changing the physical form of the city. It’s changing the way we think about the city.”
Construction along the Eastside Trail has boomed. The largest real estate project is a 2.1 million-square-foot former Sears distribution center that is being converted into apartments, restaurants and a rooftop miniature golf course.
Skip Engelbrecht owns an antique furniture store, Paris on Ponce, that backs up to the Eastside Trail. He said business has increased tenfold over the past two years as the trail opened.
“It’s unreal. We used to worry about homeless people back there and now it’s like a boardwalk,” Mr. Engelbrecht. “We’re planning a new entrance in the back, maybe a coffee shop someday. It’s hard to imagine this was all an old railroad.”
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