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Atlanta’s Memorial Drive moves toward park-filled future

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Park Pride seeks Atlantans’ input for competing green-space visions

In Atlanta, these are visions for transforming Memorial Drive’s westernmost reaches.
Visions for transforming Memorial Drive’s westernmost reaches.
Park Pride

In a recent interview, the Central Atlanta Progress official charged with guiding the vision for Memorial Drive’s future, Greg Giuffrida, predicted the historically industrial and stubbornly downtrodden corridor will be “the signature street for Southeast Atlanta” in coming decades.

But it’s going to take more than mid-rise apartment stacks and artisanal grocery stores to get there.

Just ask Park Pride, the Atlanta nonprofit that seems positively giddy about the prospects of a linear park along Memorial that would span from Oakland Cemetery to the Georgia State Capitol’s Liberty Plaza green space.

Two draft concepts have emerged for the Memorial Drive Greenway—a project with master plans and special zoning ordinances that have been in the works since the early aughts. Both proposals are ambitious, and one includes a capped portion of The Connector to provide park space and possibly affordable housing.

The concepts were born after two public meetings in which officials fielded input about community goals and general preferences for Memorial.

Now, Park Pride wants to know which concept Atlanta prefers, in advance of a “final vision plan” presentation on Feb. 28.

States Park Pride on its website: “[T]he city has been able to acquire some of the land for the park [since the early 2000s], but not all of it. Now, with hundreds of new housing units being built along Memorial Drive, the need for a shared greenspace in this part of town is more important than ever!”

Let’s have a closer look ...

OPTION 1:

This “aspirational plan” is described by Park Pride as follows:

[This idea] creates an unbroken and continuous greenspace with lots of trees, paths, shade structures, flexible seating, and space for food trucks and festival events.

presumes that current uses would remain in place until the owners decide to sell or relocate.

presumes that a planned affordable housing development could be relocated to a nearby location through a land swap agreement with the city or the state.

includes curved paths, creating swaths of flexible green space for unstructured play throughout the park, and a pedestrian bridge spans the Connector to provide a visual and physical connection to the Capitol building.

OPTION 2:

This option is described as “an exploration of a potential future in which the park coexists with buildings that have a variety of uses.” Furthermore, per Park Pride:

[This plan] incorporates some flexibility in the event that some properties are not available for acquisition to become part of the park.

acknowledges the current plan for a large affordable housing development in the area closest to the Capitol, but makes the suggestion of moving some of it onto a Cap over the Connector to allow for more park space to be built.

creates a variety of experiences within the park, including a Visitor Center for Historic Oakland Cemetery, restaurants, cafes, a day chapel, fountains, and paths.

Have a preference? Give Park Pride your 2 cents right over here.

Adjacent to the proposed chain of parks, more big changes will be in store—including a possible Memorial Drive roundabout—once the former Georgia State Archives building is replaced by an elaborate judicial complex.

The Gold Dome peering over Memorial Drive.
Curbed Atlanta