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Is Atlanta development trending toward ‘soulless’ these days?

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Complaints hurled at new titans on city’s retail, restaurant scene, but are gripes unfounded?

By now, most Atlantans have heard that Krog Street Market is considered in some circles to be among America’s great food halls, and that every urban architecture council and their brother has bestowed hardware upon the adaptive-reuse triumph that is Ponce City Market.

It wasn’t that long ago the buildings that house PCM and KSM were sadly underused carcasses.

But if recent musings in Atlanta media are any indication, there’s a growing sentiment that such inwardly focused hives of activity are detracting from a more vibrant overall city.

Maybe that’s indicative of Atlanta’s burgeoning sophistication in the face of so much growth. Or maybe people just like to bitch.

Georgia Voice columnist Ryan Lee, a devout bike commuter with a burning distaste for vehicles, rails against the “soulless growth” that’s been happening around the city since the 1990s. This week, he writes:

“The Beltline promises to boost Atlanta’s pedestrian/street culture, but the trend in development is ‘urban campuses’ such as Atlantic Station and Ponce City Market. These centralized hubs of ‘city life’ that most people drive to (including the Beltline itself) are chic, but they are far from the best version of Atlanta.”

And Lee isn’t alone in his criticisms.

In the November issue of Atlanta magazine, longtime restaurant critic Christiane Lauterbach turns up her refined nose at “food halls and mini-malls [that] turn their backs to our streets, hoarding their treasures inside.”

Lauterbach acknowledges that having bountiful options under a single roof is terrific, and that the “trend of concentrating restaurants in places such as Krog Street Market, Ponce City Market, Inman Quarter, Buckhead Atlanta, and Emory Point may be helpful in a city just beginning to embrace pedestrian arteries,” but she prefers the example set by Edgewood Avenue and even Buford Highway.

Buckhead Atlanta

Peachtree Road at Buckhead Avenue, Atlanta, GA

Ponce City Market

675 Ponce De Leon Avenue Northeast, , GA 30308 (404) 900-7900 Visit Website

Atlantic Station

1380 Atlantic Drive, , GA 30363 (404) 733-1221 Visit Website