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Expert: Atlanta development is still too married to parking

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Move toward transit alternatives isn’t necessarily working, consultant opines

A photo of an ugly parking garage in downtown Atlanta.
Photos: Curbed Atlanta

Alternate commuting solutions like biking and riding MARTA to work are consistently trending topics in Atlanta, but the buzz isn’t necessarily translating to development changes toward a less car-dependent city, one expert opines.

Tad Leithead, a 30-year veteran of Atlanta’s development scene and current chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District, feels that growth patterns are going backwards when it comes to parking ratios.

Leithead recently told Bisnow that Atlanta companies are squeezing more workers into tighter office spaces than at any time in recent memory. More specifically, the website reports, “Thirty years ago, developers typically needed to accommodate three or four spaces per 1,000 square feet. Today, that ratio is up to seven spaces, even at a time when companies are encouraging transit and alternative commutes.”

It’s a discussion related to the ongoing demise of rampant free parking in Atlanta, which sends shivers up countless seat-belted spines. Atlantans’ sweet honeymoon with vehicles seems endless — which, when alternatives don’t exist, isn’t always our own fault.

Efforts to end the honeymoon aren’t always impactful. Leithead joked that nobody, to his knowledge, is taking Uber to work. Developers, as Bisnow writes, “are still having to spend a huge portion of development dollars on accommodating ... vehicles.”

And that’s troubling in an urban landscape with far too many soul-sucking structures devoted to parking as is.

To that point, scroll down and feel your eyeballs melt with a few egregious selections from our 2013 Atlanta Parking Garage Hall of Shame: