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Westside Atlanta’s resurgence could be boosted by green waterway network

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Proposal by AUC students would prevent flooding, provide greenspace around the neighborhood

The Atlanta University Center in an aerial, with Westside beyond.
The AUC, with Westside beyond.
Google Maps

To the west of downtown, neighborhoods like Vine City, Atlanta University Center, and English Avenue are seeing major investments for infrastructure, housing, and even offices as more Atlantans look to the untapped potential of the area.

Despite struggles in recent decades, Westside communities have a treasure trove of resources: universities, future Beltline access, a place in Atlanta’s expanding bikeshare, enviable proximity to downtown, and affordability.

Now, neighborhood boosters are hoping to capitalize on that momentum and finally add a network of greenways to knit the area together and make the Proctor Creek watershed more sustainable as the area gains density.

According to the Saporta Report, studies have been underway for more than two years on how to best address persistent flooding, while lifting the neighborhoods up through creative solutions.

Led by the Atlanta University Center — the consortium of HBCUs created in 1929 — the program has reportedly figured out how to naturally retain nearly 40 million gallons of water during heavy rains. If enacted, the greenspaces would prevent floods by allowing the rainwater to collect in low areas and then slowly be absorbed following the storm.

However, before the green retention plan can be implemented, the group will need some green of another kind; estimates put the project costs at up to $80 million over a 10-year period.

Still, to simultaneously address major environmental concerns while providing a connected green network across the neighborhoods, the investment seems small compared to the big impact it could have in the future.