More than 700 people have already participated in the multi-neighborhood effort to help craft a redevelopment plan for CSX Transportation’s 70-acre rail depot, Hulsey Yard.
Since the initiative kicked off in earnest this spring, a few things have become abundantly clear: Neighbors want new green space, a refreshed focus on connectivity to the area, and a project that doesn’t resemble the high-brow likes of places like Atlantic Station.
For years, leaders from Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Cabbagetown, and Reynoldstown have been eyeing the massive rail yard, plotting a way to turn it into a community asset, and they recently recruited Atlanta-based architecture firm Lord Aeck Sargent to help them craft a plan to do just that.
After a meeting with LAS on Wednesday evening, Nicole Seekely, chair of the Hulsey Yard Study Committee, told Curbed Atlanta the hundreds of responses the partnership has garnered from an online survey and a week-long pop-up design studio held in Reynoldstown have outlined a few musts for the potential project.
People are calling for connectivity and density, she said.
They want connective nodes for vehicular and pedestrian traffic between Chester Avenue and Delta Place; they’re advocating for Beltline-adjacent transit; and they want an infill MARTA station between the King Memorial and Inman Park-Reynoldstown stops.
Plus, the community input shows people want to put a serious limit on the amount of parking spaces that could be created.
“Many folks want the masterplan to be aggressive on parking maximums (by requiring very low maximum parking) and not allow the car to drive the plan,” Seekely said.
The site the committee is studying was only in recent weeks cleared of the hundreds of freight cars that usually pack it, which has many observers speculating that CSX is mulling the possibility of putting the property on the market.
Proponents of the (very) proactive planning effort—CSX has yet to show any indication of an interest in selling—say creating a masterplan is a means of preempting big-shot developers from scooping up the land and turning it into Atlanta’s next posh mixed-use community without proper public input.
“There are no guarantees in this process, other than the guarantee that, if we don’t participate in the process, nobody will hear our concerns,” wrote Cabbagetown resident Brandon Sutton in the Cabbagetown Neighbor, a community-run paper.
Matt Cherry, an urban designer with LAS, told Curbed on Wednesday that a clearer summation of the community input should be made available online by the end of the week.
“We are still working on drafts of site framework plans that we will use as a topic for our next public open house, which we are targeting to schedule in late June or early July,” he said.
A full report on the community’s desires should be published this coming fall, Cherry said.