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8 hopes and dreams for Atlanta in 2020

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On the eve of a fresh decade, these wishes from Sandy Springs to South Atlanta could actually come true

Developers expect the shimmering glass edifice, as seen here in a rendering from the north, to finish in two years.
An earlier rendering showed plans for a much taller No2 Opus Place tower. Make it happen, or move on.
Rendering by ArX Solutions, via No2 Opus Place.

Atlanta, despite its considerable shortcomings, is on the up-and-up, perpetually en route to that vaunted status as a “world-class city.”

Clearly, from an urban perspective, we’re lacking in the departments of density, height, mobility, and affordability. But we’re flush when it comes to continuing growth, boundless potential, and general optimism.

As 2019 winds down, it’s high time to lay out some hopes and dreams for the year to come. Some are more realistic than others. But there’s no harm in hoping for a more functional, vibrant, and inclusive place to live, on the eve of a fresh decade.

Midtown’s No2 Opus Place project will either rise up or tap out.

It’s been more than five years since developer Olympia Heights unveiled the first plans for what could be Atlanta’s tallest residential tower, and some observers have wondered if it’s ever going to happen at all. Midtown planning leaders, though, say the project is a go, since the developer has secured a land disturbance permit and has begun preliminary site work. Next year, we’d like to see something start ascending on this high-profile site—or the land sold and plans scrapped for more viable ones.

Some hotshot benefactor will swoop in and fund construction of the Beltline’s Southside Trail.

Earlier this year, Beltline officials learned the project had been turned down for a $16 million federal grant that would have paved the way for, well, some paving. Project leaders later announced that a construction firm had been tapped to build part of the path, but wouldn’t it be something if some deep-pocketed Atlantan or corporation just wrote a check and made the dream a reality? The estimated $70 million cost of constructing 4.5 miles is relative chickenfeed, after all, to several magnates who owe their fortunes to this city’s progress.

How the Southside Trail’s initial segment would branch off the existing Westside Trail, which ends today in Adair Park.
Coming in the 2020s?
Atlanta Beltline

The dreaded DeKalb Avenue will become safer for all.

As is, the major thoroughfare, cracked and broken, is a haven for speeding motorists and a nightmare for cyclists and pedestrians. A complete street project planned for DeKalb Avenue was nixed from the Renew Atlanta bond program during its restructuring, and activists have taken to leisurely biking down en masse the street during morning rush hours to prove it can, in fact, be shared. Let’s make that pipe dream a reality. Somehow!

The Shops Buckhead Atlanta will start to become—dare we say it?—cool.

Now that Ponce City Market developer Jamestown owns the shopping complex, perhaps the teeth-clenchingly swanky ghost town development could turn a bit less tony and a bit more inviting to everyone. Maybe a new name would be a good start.

A glimpse of the Shops Buckhead Atlanta retail attractant around Christmastime in 2015, a year after its opening.
A bustling afternoon at the Shops Buckhead Atlanta.
Curbed Atlanta

Across the city, (many) more protected bike lanes will happen.

After a handful of e-scooter riders were killed in collisions with motorists, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms unveiled a $5 million action plan to retrofit about 20 miles of city streets with better alternative transportation infrastructure. Part of the mission was to triple the city’s network of protected bike lanes before the end of 2021, so it shouldn’t been too much to ask for at least a couple million dollars of progress before the end of next year, right?

The Atlanta Civic Center will take a path toward greatness.

The city’s housing authority bought the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center in 2017, and since then, the beautiful structure’s fate has been up in the air. In November, though, Atlanta Housing CEO Eugene Jones told reporters the agency will soon release a request for proposals to developers who want a piece of the space’s reimagining. It will certainly comprise some affordable housing component, but what else it could become isn’t unknown.

An exterior shot of the brick building.
The underutilized hunk.
Curbed Atlanta

CSX Transportation will sell the massive Hulsey Yard.

Back in May, the railroad giant cleared all its freight cars out of the roughly 80-acre yard stretching through Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Cabbagetown, and Reynoldstown. Since then, a coalition of neighbors has been working with a local architecture firm to dream up a potential future for the site. Sure, the property owner could just sit on the land forever, watching the value fluctuate with the Atlanta market, but what’s the fun in that?

The cleared-out Hulsey Yard seems to stretch on for miles, looking like a concrete desert.
Think of the possibilities.
Sean Keenan, Curbed Atlanta

GDOT will relax interstate expansion projects—and keep mass transit in mind.

Look, we’re not saying the Georgia Department of Transportation should start investing in mass transit expansion; that’s just not the agency’s job. But before going headstrong into its $11 billion Major Mobility Investment Program, GDOT leaders should take 10 steps back and consider all that’s going on in the world of transit progress.