The Atlanta BeltLine is entering into its 10th year of helping transform the City of Atlanta, and with projects in full force around the corridor, there’s no better way to keep the community informed about the latest happenings than through our Quarterly Briefings. The first Quarterly Briefing of 2016 was held on March 1 at the Atlanta Technical College campus. Residents and community members were invited out to hear how the program has been advancing, and had the opportunity to be vocal and speak with program leaders.
Paul Morris, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) President and CEO opened up the night updating guests on the newest happenings around the corridor. Here is a summary of the updates:
Westside Trail construction continues to move along on schedule and within budget. Eastside Trail extension updates included details about Phase I of the project which will stretch from Irwin Street to Kirkwood. Contractors have been selected to complete the project within 18 months from start date. Plans for the Southside Corridor are moving along as the project has received the go ahead to move forward with design details while ABI continues to acquire the necessary land.
New additions along the corridor included the new Arthur Langford Jr. Skatepark that opened in December, the second skatepark to exist along the Atlanta BeltLine. The connection between the Atlanta BeltLine and Ponce City Market is complete and connections to North Avenue Plaza are underway. ABI, along with GDOT and Ponce City Market, will begin a complete streets program on Ponce de Leon Avenue from Boulevard to Freedom Parkway with construction set to start winter 2017.
Even though Art on the Atlanta BeltLine won’t kick-off for a few months, major steps are being taken to continue showcasing the artistic culture that defines Atlanta. A request for proposals for the seventh year of the temporary exhibition is open now, and proposals are currently under review for the Art Master Plan which will help support livable communities with increased creative activity.
The BeltLine Benches project is moving forward and community members can expect to see four different prototypes around the corridor soon. New signage and wayfinding prototypes will also be installed this summer. Users of the BeltLine are encouraged to test-out these prototypes and give feedback.
With a year under their belt, the Design Review Committee (DRC), which serves as the advisory board that works toward ensuring high design standards for all projects in the Atlanta BeltLine Planning Area, reviewed 13 applications to make recommendations to the city which included SAP reviews and pre-zoning meetings. And speaking of zoning, ABI is gearing up for phase II of proactive rezoning to help activate the 10 master plans to support transit and economic development.
The Streetcar System Plan (SSP) was approved by the city in December 2015, outlining a plan for 53 miles of streetcar routes around the BeltLine and across the city. ABI has also made progress on environmental assessments to choose the best routes for accessibility and connectivity in three corridors: Atlanta BeltLine East, Atlanta BeltLine West, and Crosstown/Midtown.
Economic development and affordable housing continue to be essential elements to the Atlanta BeltLine program. Upcoming projects to help spur continued development include advancing the Murphy Crossing site, which has received a grant for a six month study from the Economic Development Agency. Negotiations are underway to continue the partnership with Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) Atlanta to continue expanding funding for downpayment assistance and owner occupied rehab for current and future residents of the Atlanta BeltLine. Phase II for Reynoldstown Crossing is expected to begin later this year to expand affordable housing along the corridor.
After Mr. Morris’ presentation, Executive Director Chuck Meadows presented updates for the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP). ABP kicked-off 2016 with the Light the Line campaign which will help fund light posts throughout the Atlanta BeltLine corridor. The campaign will run through April. Community members can look forward to multiple events ABP will be hosting throughout the year, including Pittsburg Rise, Art on the 45, and the Old Fourth Ward Fall Festival. Dates and details on these events can be found on the events calendar, along with other happenings around the corridor throughout the year.
ABP emphasized how fundamental health is to the overall program. The Atlanta BeltLine Jamboree will kick-off this year’s season of health and fitness on the Atlanta BeltLine. The Run.Walk.Go! Race Series will receive some changes this year offering two opportunities to practice a healthy, active lifestyle along the Atlanta BeltLine. The Westside 5K will take place on July 16th and the Eastside 10K on December 3rd.
ABP continues to encourage residents to make the Atlanta BeltLine their own by utilizing the trails, volunteering, touring the corridor, or by taking part in the free fitness classes that are offered from March through November.
After the formal presentations, guests were encouraged to join Atlanta BeltLine staff in one-on-one information sessions to ask specific questions and dive into more detail about the material presented.
While the night may be over, the full presentation from the briefing can be found online. Be on the lookout for the next Quarterly Briefing; we can’t wait to see you there!