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Best Civic Upgrade: Marietta Street Sidewalk Improvements

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As part of the selection process for the 2011 Curbed Atlanta Awards, we reached out to professionals and experts in the worlds of real estate development & investment, architecture, community development and preservation to solicit their well-informed opinions on projects and programs from 2011 that are worthy of a Curbed Award. Here now is one such award bestowed in collaboration with Friend of Curbed Amanda Rhein, a city & regional planner, extremely active member of the Urban Land Institute and currently a Senior Project Manager with the Atlanta Development Authority.

While the tourists and event attendees that throng downtown to visit the Georgia Aquarium and Phillips Arena may take them for granted, a $6 million project to upgrade the sidewalks and streetscape of Marietta Street has taken one of Atlanta's busiest corridors and made it safer, more pleasant to use and greatly improved the aesthetics. Implemented by Central Atlanta Progress and paid for by the Downtown Improvement District and the Department of Transportation, the project has replaced sidewalks and made granite improvements to the curbs; "greened" the corridor with raised and in-ground planters, flower baskets and shade trees; added lighting; installed new trash cans and consolidated an unsightly collection of newspaper dispensers into a more attractive 'condo.' Obviously, improvements like these won't get as much as attention as major projects like the Atlanta Streetcar or The BeltLine, but the quality of life enhancements they afford those who travel the area daily are significant. And though visitors to the city won't necessarily notice these improvements consciously, Atlanta will be viewed that much more favorably by pedestrians trafficking the downtown attractions. For these reasons, we are giving the project a Curbed Award. As the new College Football Hall of Fame and National Center for Civil & Human Rights take shape, these improvements will continue to pay dividends.