In the quest for 2016 “Neighborhood of the Year” status, the City of Chamblee is on a roll thus far, having collected enough pre-tourney nominations for a No. 1 seed and then doing what a No. 1 seed does — winning! (Yes, ITP cities such as Chamblee and Decatur aren’t exactly neighborhoods, but they’re eligible for competition). Chamblee is a diverse place, offering quiet, midcentury subdivisions in woodsy settings and entirely new neighborhoods situated around parks; a burgeoning downtown district; large-scale new development (hello, Whole Foods), and a flank of Buford Highway that adds dashes of international (especially Asian) flavor. It’s no wonder that, alongside Norcross, Chamblee was named earlier this year to a questionable list of the top five fastest-growing cities in the country. In Round 1 action, Chamblee decisively beat the proud Buckhead neighborhood of Pine Hills, capturing more than 71 percent of votes to advance. Marching beyond the Elite Eight might not be so easy, however.
Drive south on The Connector through Midtown today, look to your left, and behold a scene reminiscent of upstart Chinese super cities: block after block reveals cranes and the rising, skeletal, concrete framework of one sky-rise after the other. Midtown led Atlanta’s charge out of the Great Recession’s doldrums and continues surging forward, packing on thousands of specialized jobs, apartments to accommodate the influx, and large-scale student housing that borders on pampered luxury. Remember when a project like Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites launching was a big deal? Now, Midtown sets its sites on 70-story residential towers designed by architectural icons. A couple of months ago, the submarket scored national recognition by joining four other U.S. neighborhoods named to the American Planning Association’s 2016 list of Great Places in America. Could an even more impressive Curbed Cup be in Midtown’s future? Perhaps. East Lake proved no match for mighty, larger Midtown in Round 1.