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Beltline creator Ryan Gravel turns focus to Buford Highway corridor

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Gravel and Georgia Tech students will examine the potential of international corridor

Nearly 20 years ago, Ryan Gravel—then a student at Georgia Tech—birthed the idea for redeveloping old, unsightly rail infrastructure into the Atlanta Beltline. Since then, his master’s thesis has helped transform much of intown Atlanta (albeit a bit too slowly for some people) to a degree not seen since the Olympics.

Now, Gravel is back at Georgia Tech to collaborate with students on the future of another hulking piece of transportation infrastructure, contemplating how it can be turned into a major amenity for metro Atlanta: Buford Highway.

According to Reporter Newspapers, today marks the beginning of a “Generator workshop” to envision not only how to preserve, but bolster, the corridor as population shifts and development threaten its international vibrancy.

Home to more than 1,000 immigrant-owned businesses, representing countries from Korea to Mexico and Bangladesh to Ethiopia, the corridor is a favorite of many in the metro looking for amazing food and shopping.

With Gravel at the helm, the so-called “idea studio” will seek ways to account for an influx of people in the coming years, with a goal of ensuring so many newcomers don’t overwhelm what’s one of Atlanta’s most unique corridors.

Ideas will likely range from the practical to the outlandish, but the intent is to spark discussion about things like gentrification, transit, and affordability.

With so much to consider, the outcome of the workshop will be one to watch.