Raise your hand if you've told visitors to our fair city something like this: "Aside from the Centennial Olympic Park area, try to avoid downtown." In what should be a rousing read for downtown boosters and residents, Ken Ashley, executive director of brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield, admits to having similar feelings about the city's Central Business District in an Atlanta Business Journal op-ed. His preconceptions of downtown included "the beggars and junky looking merchant carts that resembled a yard sale, dirty sidewalks and burned-out streetlights" and the pleasant exercise of constantly looking over his shoulder. He pined for the clean, functioning downtowns of Austin, Portland, even Greenville S.C.
A recent meeting headed by Cousins CEO Larry Gellerstedt, incoming Metro Atlanta Chamber chairman, turned Ashley more bullish on the prospects of downtown. Promising signs, he writes, involve developer investment ($6 billion since 2003), public safety (nearly ¼ of the APD's force patrols downtown?), the substantial growth of GSU and other areas. His views on panhandling and homelessness might skew a little too optimistic, but his overall attitude is refreshing.
· The upside of Atlanta's downtown [Atlanta Business Chronicle]
· Recent downtown Atlanta coverage [Curbed]