There must be a heavily reinforced shelf in some Atlanta vault where all the plans of yesteryear sit collecting dust and broken dreams. We tend to get excited about various redevelopment and transportation schemes, go through the process of formulating blueprints for their execution, and then...nothing. At the end of the day, it all comes down to money; hopefully the green stuff flows in response to the new Atlanta streetcar loop, because the possibilities for an improved urban environment along the loop are impressive.
Last week, the public had the chance to review and comment on the initial redevelopment plan formulated by Central Atlanta Progress, the Downtown Improvement District, and the City of Atlanta. While there’s sure to be some tweaking between now and then, the goal is to have a package finalized by this summer that’ll provide a clear program for building within a two block zone around the 2.6 mile route.
Ideas for the route range from the subtle (new street connections) to the grandiose (anything involving the name “Portman”). How about a pseudo-Glenwood Park on the site of the old Wheat Street Gardens? The 36-story office building that could straddle a MARTA entrance at the corner of Ellis and Peachtree has the potential to really upset fans of that, um, scenic tree mural. As of now, the majority of the concepts are only illustrated with Lego-like images, allowing the most basic questions to be answered before architecture gets involved. The form of a possible Centennial Olympic Building looks to Manhattan for inspiration - should it follow the massing lead of the Pierre Hotel or the Guggenheim Museum? More importantly, who will build it?