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Current proposal for Beltline project near Krog Street Tunnel raises concerns

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Beltline founder: The development is "not designed with transit in mind"

Recently presented plans for a development near the Atlanta Beltline and Krog Street Tunnel have made some Beltline advocates and community members wary.

Notably, that group includes Beltline visionary Ryan Gravel, according to a recent post on local advocacy site ThreadATL.

Atlanta BeltLine Inc. and developers North American Properties presented the proposal at 670-690 DeKalb Avenue last week to members of the Inman Park Neighborhood Association, which according to ThreadATL seemed to have acceptable building materials, street-level activity, density, and brag-worthy 20-percent affordable housing.

Gravel reportedly told the group of residents and company representatives that, as presented, buildings on the current site plan "are beautiful, but they’re not designed with transit in mind." In fact, some worry the project could effective block a transit line.

Gravel said the proposed site plans for the project did not allow enough space for rail to run through alongside a trail, and a possible 1,000-foot tunnel with an S-curve in it (to be used in lieu of the Krog Tunnel) would only have enough room for transit, reports ThreadATL. This, in theory, could mean walkers and bikers would be S.O.L. Also, the added cost of building such a long tunnel — when a much shorter one had apparently originally been proposed — could be an impediment to making transit a reality in the first place, some argue.

The website breaks it down deeper with these two worst-case-scenerio bullet points:

1 – Not enough space for rail to run through.

The dimensions of the site are not large enough for transit and trail to run alongside one another. The originally-intended 140 ft. tunnel from Edgewood underneath Hulsey Yards – connecting trains, bikes, and people to Cabbagetown without crossing Dekalb Avenue – is now proposed as a 1,000+ ft. tunnel, with an S-curve in it, that will only – theoretically – have enough room for transit. So what? That means the temporary routing of the walking & biking trail through the Krog Tunnel will almost certainly become permanent. Think about that. The entire walking population of the Beltline (which will only get bigger) will be forced to walk through the already-congested Krog Street Tunnel. Permanently.

2 – Tunneling would be too expensive.

The added expense of a tunnel that’s 10 times as long, with an added curve in it, very likely will be enough of a hurdle to prevent the transit. If the transit and trail don’t happen because it’s too complicated and expensive, all the work of countless community meetings will have been a waste of time, and the Beltline’s greatest potential will be wasted. And once again, the neighborhoods south of the city will get the short end of the stick: Peoplestown, Grant Park, Cabbagetown, Reynoldstown and others will be cut off from transportation and economic opportunities and will not get the Beltline they were promised.

All of this, Gravel said, could have larger implications and obstacles for the Beltline as a whole.

In a statement provided to Curbed Atlanta, Richard Munger, vice president of development for North American Properties, said the company has been "highly engaged with the neighbors and stakeholders of Inman Park and Old Fourth Ward for the last year, while working at the direction of Atlanta BeltLine Inc."

Added Munger: "The proposed development has received positive response and aligns with the guidelines set forth by ABI. Should ABI’s guidelines change, we will happily adjust our project plans accordingly."

We've asked for renderings that might help clarify exactly what's being proposed here and will post them if they come.