We’re a month into 2016 and the Atlanta BeltLine is off to a great start thanks to the work and support that occurred during the previous 12 months. From ongoing construction to record number attendance at the annual Lantern Parade, and updates on new projects set along the Atlanta BeltLine corridor, let’s take a look back and see how 2015 laid the foundation for the Atlanta BeltLine to move into 2016 with a momentum that is keeping the program headed in the right direction.
So, here we go. 2015: A Year in Review.
As the year kicked-off, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. grew with the addition of Stacey Patton as the new Real Estate Director.
In February, Stanton Oaks, formerly Boynton Village, saw its first families move into the newly renovated apartments. The renovations were part of the Atlanta BeltLine’s affordable workforce housing which provides affordable housing opportunities for home renters and buyers.
In March, as an effort to get Atlantans out and moving, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership hosted the first ever Atlanta BeltLine Fitness Fair. Hundreds of people came out to Historic Fourth Ward Park to move, play, and get fit. The event sampled many of the different activities that are available through the Atlanta BeltLine’s free fitness programs.
March continued to be a major month for the Atlanta BeltLine. The Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and the Atlanta BeltLine partnered to fund $600,000 in housing initiatives, providing assistance toward the purchase of new homes or rehabilitation of existing homes along the Atlanta BeltLine corridor. The launch of the Design Review Committee (DRC) also took place. This committee now sets the framework for highest design standards for projects within the Atlanta BeltLine Planning Area. Both developments will play a major role in making sure that projects within the Atlanta BeltLine benefit residents throughout Atlanta.
Historic Fourth Ward Park received a new shade structure in March. The structure was built to help relieve park visitors during the hotter season. A Park Pride matching grant provided $16,000 toward the structure.
In April, ground broke for Reynoldstown Senior Housing, marking the beginning for the 70-unit building that will provide affordable housing for residents ages 55 and older.
Five new hires were added to the Westside Works program part of the Workforce Partnerships that will help better connections for employers and the residents living, or desiring to live, along the Atlanta BeltLine corridor. The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership’s collaboration with the Construction Education Foundation of Georgia (CEFGA) and Westside Works focuses on workforce partnership in Construction.
With amazing weather to pave the way, April welcomed numerous volunteer opportunities along the Atlanta BeltLine. The Atlanta Hawks partnered with Arrow Exterminators to host “Threes for Trees” where the organizations donated to Trees Atlanta for every three-pointer made at home games during the regular season. An total of $10,000 was donated from the cause to help support the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum.
May saw another successful Earth Day, with volunteers tackling projects along the Eastside Trail with the help from friends at Trees Atlanta. The different groups handled different tasks to help improve and maintain the Arboretum.
More than just plant life began to bloom along the Atlanta BeltLine during April. The Urban Farm along the Westside Trail received two farmers to begin managing the first agricultural site along the Atlanta BeltLine. Far from the contaminated site that was there before, the two new farmers are working to build up the soil to provide foundation that will support nutrient-rich produce.
On May 12, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law Senate Bill 4 (SB4) to provide a way for public/private partnerships to finance Atlanta BeltLine transit, trails, parks, and streetscapes. Georgia state law now permits a framework in which a public entity (such as Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and the City of Atlanta) can partner with the private sector to fund capital projects.
In May, Porsche donated $500,000 to the Atlanta BeltLine, helping the program close their $12.5 million capital campaign. The campaign was created to raise funds for Westside Trail construction and, thanks to donors like Porsche, the Atlanta BeltLine was able to complete the campaign within one year.
And speaking of the Westside Trail, 2015 was a huge year for progress on the trail. Ground broke on the trail near the end of 2014 and work hasn’t stopped since. Even though 2015 threw out some tricky weather conditions, progress found its way. In April, demolition took place for the bridge on MLK. Since then, progress on the trail included new retaining walls, grading, and stormwater infrastructure.
As beautiful weather helped bring us into July, the PATH Foundation wrapped up construction on the Northside Spur Trail. The trail, an extension from the Atlanta BeltLine Northside Trail, extends to the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center and Northside Drive.
Helping to highlight the outstanding work of the Atlanta BeltLine, the program was honored to receive multiple awards throughout the year for projects throughout the corridor. The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) awarded the Atlanta BeltLine with a Gold Excellence in Economic Development Award in the category of Neighborhood Development and a Silver Excellence for the 2014 Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Annual Report. The program also received the National Phoenix award for excellence in Brownfield Remediation for the Eastside Trail and Historic Fourth Ward Park.
There’s nothing like receiving awards right at home. The Atlanta Urban Design Commission awarded the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition the Award of Excellence. For Creative Loafing’s “Best of the Best” awards, the Atlanta BeltLine was honored to receive multiple awards in the Reader’s Picks categories such as ‘Best New Thing to Do in Atlanta’ and ‘Best Place to Bike’.
In addition to the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition, public art throughout the corridor will receive some major enhancements thanks to an Our Town Grant the city of Atlanta received. The grant will help fund the Atlanta BeltLine Arts and Culture Master plan. This master plan will help in developing programs and partnerships that enhance livability along the Atlanta BeltLine.
While we’re on the subject of Art on the Atlanta BeltLine, residents and visitors really showed out this year! The annual Lantern Parade brought out over 66,000 visitors to help light-up the Eastside trail with music and lanterns of all sizes to help kick-start the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition. This year’s exhibition brought out new artists and new talents featuring more than 100 projects with performance weekends running through mid-November. Pieces from this year’s exhibition featured international artist and touched on different social issues. Visit art.beltline.org to see everything this year’s exhibition had to offer.
In conjunction with the Lantern Parade, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership held its first ever Fall Festival on September 11 and 12, which included two days of Lantern Parade prep music, food trucks, and lantern making workshops. A call for bids for the Eastside Trail Extension was put out with construction set to start in 2016.
In September, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. added a new member to the executive team with Clyde Higgs joining as Chief Operating Officer.
Also new to the corridor, the Atlanta BeltLine welcomed a new mascot and etiquette expert Eddy Cat. Our new spokes-cat helped kick-off the annual etiquette campaign to remind users how to get out and share the trail. Got questions or suggestions? Eddy Cat can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In September, the Atlanta Journal Constitution released their Living Intown special edition magazine dedicated to all things Atlanta BeltLine. Even more sweet about this treat is that proceeds from magazine purchases benefit the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership.
In October, Cigna announced they would provide funding to support more than 500 free health and fitness programs, helping to remove barriers to healthy behaviors, and increase access to the Atlanta BeltLine’s 22-mile network of trails, parks and transit. This partnership is another necessary step to help the Atlanta BeltLine in its health and fitness efforts. This year represented the fifth year for the Atlanta BeltLine Run.Walk.Go! Series, which saw great numbers for the four races that took place this year. The first race, the Northside 5k, took place on April 25 and runners and walkers ran their way through cloudy skies to a finish line greeted with sunny weather. The Southwest 5K took place on July 11 and saw more than 600 participants who were able to get sneak peeks at Westside Trail construction. On September 26, the challenging Southeast 8k took place at Choosewood Park and ended at D.H. Stanton Park. Wrapping up the year’s series, the Eastside 10k took place on December 10 where runners and walkers moved along the Eastside Trail through the Inman Park, Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Poncey-Highland and Virginia Highland neighborhoods.
In November, POND & Company was chosen to lead design efforts for the Reynoldstown stage, which will be located at the southern end of the Eastside Trail.
As December brought the year to a close, progress within the program continued to advance. The City of Atlanta approved the Streetcar System Plan (SSP) that will connect 50 miles of streetcar transit throughout the city, including 22-miles along the Atlanta BeltLine.
Thanks to support and funding from the Coca-Cola Company, another Skatepark became part of the parks family that exists along the Atlanta BeltLine. The Department of Parks and Recreation opened the Arthur Langford Jr. Skate Park on December 11. The park serves as an alternative for those who can’t travel to Historic Fourth Ward Skate Park.
Making planning efforts for the new year, the Atlanta BeltLine wrapped up the year putting out request for proposals for both a Mural at the Langford Jr. Skate Park and for proposals to help develop the Art Master Plan.
The Atlanta BeltLine would not be possible without the continued efforts of those who surround and support the program. There are numerous volunteer opportunities and events that occur throughout the year. Want to keep up with Atlanta BeltLine progress? Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Join us as we celebrate 10 years of helping being a key leader lead in the transformative impact taking over the city of Atlanta.