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Team and Timeline Revealed for Two Revamped MARTA Stations

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MARTA's Five Points station, the hub of Atlanta's transit system, "lacks allure" and needs help with its curb appeal, according to the city. That's an exceptionally polite way of saying it smells like pee and has all the charm of a box of rocks and scorpions. But it can (and will!) be improved — along with the Garnett Station — with a Livable Communities Initiative grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission and matching funds from the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID). The $100,000 worth of improvements will be aimed at "activating" the areas near Five Points and Garnett and "improving the attractiveness, convenience, safety and accessibility of the stations in order to improve the transit rider's experience, increase transit ridership and support transit-oriented development."

In April, Central Atlanta Progress and ADID put out a request for proposals. The selected team is led by Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh (TSW), a design firm of planners, architects and landscape architects, with help from Nelson Nygaard (transportation specialists), Gabler Youngston (architectural lighting designers) and Contente Consulting (Atlanta-based urban planning and strategic consulting firm).

The team will use the theories of "tactical urbanism" when planning the project, which essentially means that small-scale, inexpensive changes will be phased in and the community will be able to offer ideas along the way. Whether that will be enough to make a significant difference remains to be seen.

Community meetings and presentations are ongoing, and public meetings will be held in December and January before implementation begins. The whole project has to be wrapped up no later than June 30, 2015, as per the terms of the grant. The city hopes for an earlier completion though to help eliminate "negative perceptions of Downtown" and "attract private investment to Downtown Atlanta's South Central Business District."

· Downtown South Transit Station Area Enhancements Plan [AtlantaDowntown.com]