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Can Southside Capitalize on Unyielding Northern Sprawl?

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For decades, growth in Atlanta has surged ever northward: skyscrapers line Peachtree Road from the core of the city through Buckhead, suburban centers such as Sandy Springs and Dunwoody are cultivating their own dense pockets of development, and plans are percolating to extend MARTA rail all the way to Milton. It isn't hard to argue that the northern end of the city has enjoyed years of prosperity, with little attention paid to the Southside. But the momentum may soon shift toward those previously overlooked areas of the city, says Steve Labovitz, a lawyer and former COO of the City of Atlanta. An article in Reporter Newspapers highlights remarks Labovitz made to the Buckhead Business Association that illustrate his line of thinking.

The crux of Labovitz's argument is that, through the years of unbridled northward expansion, infrastructure to support the growth has lagged behind. With companies looking to set up shop in Atlanta, Labovitz surmises many will be turned off to the northern suburbs as the area chokes on its own traffic-dogged success. And with plenty of land to choose from on the southern end of the city, there's potential for a range of uses, both close to downtown and farther afield.

Closer to the core, a lot of sports-related activity is cracking on the southern side of downtown, with the rising Falcon's Stadium, a potential redevelopment of Turner Field and even speculation about a new soccer facility on Memorial Drive. But more grand plans can be found farther south, with the Aerotropolis vision — a new urban area anchored by the airport — slowly inching toward reality. Porsche's new headquarters is proof the concept could work, and new plans for a hotel, offices and travel center coming to Hartsfield-Jackson show that the city is throwing its support behind the endeavor.

Still, the Southside has a long way to go to catch up with the ever-expanding Northside. But with a possible rail extension to Clayton County and the Beltline tying together intown neighborhoods in that direction, smart money says there's potential to be tapped.

· Faced with traffic, next wave of metro area development rolls south, former city official tells Buckhead business leaders [Reporter Newspapers]

Turner Field

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