Breaking news: Atlanta has a crazy obsession with humdrum "mixed-use" developments. Since the 2000s, it seems developers in all corners of the city have been afflicted with mixed-use fever, which some wise observers labeled an all-out epidemic in 2012. The result of our affliction has been a rash of four or five stories of apartments stacked on top of stores and restaurants, all wrapping a massive parking deck. (Hey, it beats strip malls, right?) Far from solving Atlanta's larger woes of absent connectivity, the enclaves have only exacerbated the delaminated fabric of the city, forcing people to drive from one development to another in order to go about their daily lives. With a recent push to develop mixed-use havens anchored on existing transit hubs, could our underdog transit system, MARTA, simply be showing symptoms of the bug? While not a doctor, Alison Tallman, an Atlanta transplant, designer and contributor to Medium, thinks MARTA, with its new transit oriented developments (TODs), stands a chance at finding a cure for the common mixed-use development.
[A proposed air-rights development. Renderings via MARTA.]
Location, location, location sets MARTA's developments apart from all the others going up around Atlanta. Proposed on severely underutilized parking lots that make many stations islands in a sea of parking, the TODs solve three problems at once: First, they better connect the MARTA stations to the neighborhoods they serve by bridging the asphalt divides. Secondly, they replace those parking lots with dense, livable, walkable centers. And thirdly, while the walkable centers may be no better equipped than the other mixed-use developments around Atlanta, when coupled with the adjacent MARTA stations, they provide viable commute alternatives and allow residents transport across the city without relying on cars.
Clearly there is interest in the idea, with proposals being floated at more than half-a-dozen stations, including Brookhaven, College Park, King Memorial, Oakland City, Midtown, Lenox, Arts Center and North Avenue. We'll see if interest can partner with opportunity and actually make these things happen.
·Is MARTA's Transit Oriented Development a light at the end of a very dark tunnel of idling cars? [Medium]
·Why Timing Could be Right For Building on MARTA Stations [Curbed Atlanta]
·In Pictures: Brookhaven's Cosmopolitan MARTA Dream [Curbed Atlanta]