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North American Properties head honcho: Atlanta’s future depends on MARTA

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Leader of suburban development Avalon, urban revitalization of Colony Square, calls I-85 bridge collapse defining moment

A MARTA train at Atlanta’s King Memorial Station.
A MARTA train at King Memorial Station.
Curbed Atlanta

Mark Toro, the managing partner and chairman of prominent Atlanta developer North American Properties, has joined the growing chorus of business and civic leaders calling for MARTA expansion.

In an editorial for the AJC, Toro cited the fallout from the Interstate 85 collapse as a “pivotal moment” in Atlanta transportation planning.

With a boost in MARTA ridership following the collapse, it’s clear that many people on Atlanta’s roads make the conscious decision to drive instead of taking transit. With the metro population expected to grow immensely in the coming decades, it’s imperative to think comprehensively about expanding transit options, says Toro.

It may seem ironic that the developer of a suburban mega-project like Avalon is promoting transit, but Toro (a frequent MARTA customer himself) notes the shortcomings of suburban development, and an overall trend that’s seeing corporations choose transit-adjacent sites for their headquarters.

It’s not the first time Toro has spoken out about MARTA’s role beyond the urban core. In 2015, he called out Cobb County and its lack of transportation options, citing racism as a key factor in stymieing comprehensive public transit.

As North American Properties embarks on a multi-phased transformation of Midtown’s Colony Square, could Toro’s proclamation that Atlanta’s future depends on MARTA be a bellwether for public sentiment—and a lasting migration toward public transit?

Or will his fear—shared by many others—that Atlantans will simply revert back to their pre-collapse habits hold true?