Woven into the tired national banter about Atlanta's "Loserville" status as a lukewarm professional sports town are digs about the less-than-attractive environs surrounding the city's biggest coliseums. True, the Gulch has as much in common with Foxboro's mixed-use wonderland Patriot Place as Peoplestown does with Wrigleyville. Not much, that is. But Atlanta officials, the Braves and a slate of developers have visions for changing all that — swapping Turner Field's vast, dismal northern parking lots for a humming intown neighborhood. We applaud the effort but wonder if even the best laid plans there might go splat. And we're not alone.
The AJC reports that four development teams have pitched visions for 55 acres of parking lots used by fans during the Braves' 81 regular-season home games. The pitches are merely a starting point, and a brainstorming session on how funding might be secured. (Interesting note: "Each of the proposals contains expansion of the downtown streetcar or other transit links, parking decks with at least 10,000 spaces, and a design theme to honor Hank Aaron's home run record and the history of the Braves," the newspaper reports. Quoth one Invest Atlanta official: "I think we're in a great place coming out of a recession to start this exercise." Some AJC online commenters are less optimistic, decrying the project as a "pie-in-the-sky waste of money" and "Underground Atlanta Part II." Do the visions have real traction, or does this talk harken memories of the failed FanPlex?