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Tour Highlights Changes Along Famous, Eclectic Buford Highway

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With development dollars flowing in, can the cultural melting pot of Atlanta maintain its distinctive flavors?

Buford Highway is arguably the epicenter of multicultural Atlanta. With a fusion of ethnicities from across the globe, the corridor is a bastion for lovers of exotic foods and foreign wares.

But like many places in metro Atlanta, the area is experiencing some pretty big development-driven changes, which some observers believe could threaten the unique fabric of the corridor. Given the foodie paradise's proximity to the core of the city, developers are seizing opportunities along Buford Highway, and more is likely to come.

And thus, a recent culinary tour also served as a call-to-action.

For almost a year, plans have been in the works for a major mixed-use development just across the street from the Buford Highway Farmers Market. Billed as Nexus, the project could bring apartments, senior housing, retail, and even a hotel to what is now a large parking lot.

Projects like Nexus — proposed by Macauley Investments — and the redevelopment of the former GM Plant into Assembly typify the trend. The question is, as investment and development move in, will Buford Highway be able to maintain its reputation as Atlanta's melting pot?

Last week, more than 100 people took part in a "bus crawl" along Buford Highway that highlighted some of the many culinary landmarks in the area. The event, put on by We Love BuHi and the MARTA Army, highlighted just how connected the multicultural corridor is — and called attention to its untapped potential.

According to Reporter Newspapers, along for the ride was Beltline visionary Ryan Gravel, who addressed the group about ensuring planned developments in the area didn't detract from what makes it so unique to begin with.

Gravel emphasized that growth in the area should be fueled by re-envisioning the auto-centric highway that forms the spine of the area by providing bus rapid transit in dedicated lanes.

Also, Gravel stressed that to maintain the area's flavor, incorporating affordable housing into future developments will be paramount.

As the growth trend spills southward from MARTA's Gold Line, can these strategies help preserve Buford Highway?