The list of complaints about downtown Atlanta will be familiar to many. No need to list them here but suffice to say most residents of metro Atlanta – even diehard defenders – do not spend much time (or have a reason to) in downtown.

The time of the theaters like Loew’s (of Gone With the Wind debut fame) and Rich’s and the Constitution Building are long in the past. On the weekends without the workers of neighboring office buildings, the area is practically empty. And in Covid-19 times, it has been largely so since March. 

To that end, the City of Atlanta’s Department of City Planning is launching a new campaign to reimagine and reinvigorate Peachtree Street into an “exceptional, welcoming public space for all people.” The goal is a shared space, encouraging walking, biking, transit, and cars moving through at slow speed. 

The origins for the plan come from Atlanta City Design, which outlined a plan for how Atlanta can accommodate future growth and with all residents of the city in mind. 

“Central to that is the success of Downtown Atlanta and the enormous population that it could accommodate with its density and access,” said Tim Keane, the City of Atlanta’s Commissioner of City Planning. “Having exceptionally designed public spaces for people throughout Downtown, including Peachtree Street, will be critical to that success.”

The study covers the portion of Peachtree Street south from North Avenue to Marietta Street – an area mostly currently reserved for tourists at hotels or employees of office buildings. Except for a small section near the Merchandise Mart and John Portman Boulevard, there are few shops or restaurants along this stretch of Peachtree – resulting in little foot traffic or vibrancy. 

The city will select a portion of this stretch as the preferred location for a shared space, with three potential designs presented as part of the final report in March of next year. 

“The goal of this effort is to elevate Peachtree Street’s role as an active, vibrant center of urban life,” said Doug Nagy, Deputy Commissioner of Transportation. “The more attractive we can make Downtown as a place to live, work, and play, the more we can cut down on citywide traffic in the long term.”

The city will be seeking much public input and engagement on developing the concepts and designs, with community members invited to weigh in a number of different ways. There is an interactive online map, and the first workshop week opened up this week, focusing on understanding the opportunities and limitations of the project. A second workshop series will be held the week of December 14, focusing on concept designs. 

“We know that Peachtree Street can better serve our community,” said Monique Forte, the Department of City Planning’s project manager for this study.

Click here for more on the Peachtree Shared Space Study

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