Our quarterly briefings have always been a crucial tool in getting information about the Atlanta BeltLine out to the public. In 2016, we began using Facebook Live as a new tool to broadcast the information to residents that cannot make the meeting, as well as to heighten transparency for our audience. In addition, the 4th meeting of the year was covered by FGTV. The presentation is also available online, and these recap blogs are a handy way to get a digest of the quarterly topics without watching the entire presentation. With all of these options available, we hope that everyone can get the information they want about the Atlanta BeltLine.
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Activities
In our fourth and final quarterly briefing for 2016, the public was invited to join us at the Fulton County Government Center for the presentation and an open-house. The presentation focused on a year-in-review of Atlanta BeltLine progress and programs. Included in this recap was an update on planning activities, such as proactive rezoning and the Design Review Committee, which held 62 reviews of Special Administrative Permits in 2016. Over all, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.’s (ABI) Community Engagement and Planning team held 32 community meetings with more than 1,500 participants in 2016, and employed new tools to engage the community, such as pop-ups and meet-and-greets.
A major milestone was accomplished by ABI’s government affairs team in supporting the City’s efforts to educate the voters on the TSPLOST and MARTA referenda. Additionally, the team secured several grants over the course of 2016, including a $500,000 grant to advance a Transit-Oriented Development study, and funding for Art on the Atlanta BeltLine.
Affordable housing is an important focus at ABI, and in 2016 two new developments were completed: Reynoldstown Senior, which includes 70 units of affordable senior housing in southeast Atlanta, and Stanton Oaks, a redevelopment of 43 units of affordable housing in Peoplestown (formerly Boynton Village.) To date, 560 units of affordable housing have been supported in the Atlanta BeltLine Planning Area, and going forward, $15-20 million of Tax Allocation District revenue will go to support more affordable housing. We expect 265 units of affordable housing to be under construction in 2017, with a funding commitment of $18 million over the next three years to address issues of affordability and equity. Work also advanced on the study of Murphy Crossing development potential, which will activate the 16-acre site on the Westside Trail.
Construction continues on the Westside Trail, with pouring of the first segments of concrete in the last few months of 2016. The trail, which will be completed by summer 2017, now has trail poured from Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive north to Lionel Hampton Trail, as well as from the University Avenue spur to Allene Avenue. The bridge over Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive was also rebuilt with a pedestrian walkway and room for future transit. The whole trail is considered a closed construction site until completion.
The Eastside Trail extension – from Irwin Street south to Kirkwood – kicked off construction in 2016. By the end of the year, the path under the Krog Street Tunnel had been completed, and most of the preliminary work on Wylie Street is finished. The trail on Wylie Street will be poured in early 2017, and the remainder of the first phase of this trail will be complete in summer of this year.
The process to 100% design for the Southside Trail commenced in 2016, an 18-24 month process that will address the 4-mile Atlanta BeltLine corridor between Glenwood Avenue and University Avenue. The team at ABI will return to the community in mid-2017 to report on the design process.
The public received an update on Atlanta’s progress toward the City’s 50+ mile Streetcar System Plan. ABI has moved closer to finalizing route selections for the Atlanta BeltLine East, West, Crosstown-Midtown, and Crosstown-Downtown corridors. Presently, ABI is evaluating the Federal Transit Administration’s comments on Atlanta BeltLine West, and the remaining drafts should be submitted in 2017.
Art & Design
Art on the Atlanta BeltLine wrapped up its seventh year, with nearly 100 works of visual and performing art in the open parks and trails. More than 70,000 people turned out for the Lantern Parade, making it the largest and most colorful kickoff to the exhibition to date. The Reynoldstown Stage, a public space for performance and gathering on the trail in Reynoldstown, will be designed thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The prototype program for BeltLine Benches introduced four bench styles to the Eastside Trail in 2016. The bench prototypes were designed and crafted by local artists and architecture & design firms. The signage & wayfinding program also became a reality, with the first sets of signage tested on the Eastside Trail. The signage will be utilized on the entirety of the Westside Trail when it is opened.
Atlanta BeltLine Partnership updates
As the arm of the Atlanta BeltLine that is committed to enabling the project, engaging the public, and empowering the residents, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABP) helps advance the Atlanta BeltLine through its fundraising and programming activities. This year, ABP had an important role in the passage of the TSPLOST and MARTA referenda, and continued to manage the tour program, with hundreds of bus, bike, and walking tours given in 2016. ABP launched a partnership with Hands on Atlanta, enabling volunteers to connect with opportunities both on the Atlanta BeltLine and with 30+ organizations serving Atlanta BeltLine communities. Health & fitness remained a focus as ABP held more than 300 fitness classes and two Run.Walk.Go! races. Other ABP activities, to name a few, included community-oriented special events, homeowner education workshops, Play Days, and Adopt the Atlanta BeltLine activities.
The topics touched on in the final quarterly briefing of 2016 are just the tip of the iceberg for Atlanta BeltLine activities in the past year. Stay tuned to our blog and social media for the most current events and activities.
You can also see the presentation in its entirety here.