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Beltline: Best Thing in ATL Since the Olympics?

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Since the Eastside Trail's official unveiling in October, an interesting if curious sentiment has echoed on broadcast news reports, blog posts and in reader emails to Curbed. The proclamation basically goes like this: "The Beltline is the best thing to happen to Atlanta since the Olympics." Now, that's a bold statement. The economic benefits of an international mega-event like the Centennial Olympiad reverberate to this day. Could the Beltline be in the same league? Has the trail trumped every other development in Atlanta since? Or is the talk just giddy hyperbole on the part of intowners hungry for a more vibrant city? Some officials, it seems, are leaning toward the former.

In a Saporta Report op-ed, Valarie Wilson, executive director of the Beltline Partnership, makes the case for the Beltline's potential to bolster the city's quality of life — by way of private entities forming partnerships and working together. Her private, non-profit organization fosters support for the Beltline project.

In detailing an epiphanic moment, Wilson points to "hundreds of new apartments and condominiums built in the midst of the worst economy in a generation, filled with residents who want to live in proximity to the (Historic Fourth Ward) park and the (trail)," and ongoing mega-projects like Ponce City Market. Such moments, Wilson posits, keep philanthropies investing in the Beltline — the thrill of seeing promise become reality.

Writes Wilson: "Results aren't merely a completed park; results are parks filled with people. Results aren't merely new mobility options; results are people getting from one neighborhood to another in new ways. Results aren't just the Atlanta BeltLine; results are healthier Atlantans with improved quality of life."

Sounds like a pretty big deal — and a transformative one. Did you live here in 1996? How do the two undertakings compare?

· Atlanta BeltLine a path for private entities to partner for public good [Saporta Report]