Live, Work, Play: An Urban Innovation: True to Its Motto "Live, Work, Play," the Atlantic Station[R] Redevelopment Includes Affordable Housing and a Host of New Jobs in Its Comprehensive Approach to Community Development. but This Kind of Development Doesn't Just Happen on Its Own. It Takes Vision and Cooperation among Many Partners
Howell, Sibyl, Partners in Community and Economic Development
After years of planning, ATLANTIC STATION, LLC[R] is finally becoming a reality: a formerly contaminated steel mill site near downtown Atlanta is now being transformed into what some would refer to as a new "minicity." Currently in various stages of completion, the former site of Atlantic Steel is becoming home to office towers, a major shopping and entertainment district, a hotel, and housing in an area that saw little hope a decade ago.
The steel years
Set on 138 acres, Atlantic Steel was founded in 1901 as Atlanta Hoop Company to make cotton bale ties and barrel hoops. In 1915 the company reorganized into Atlantic Steel Company with the expansion of its product lines. By the 1980s operations had declined significantly, and the site closed in 1997. That year,
Jacoby Development Inc. and AIG Global Real Estate initiated a plan to transform the blighted steel property into a mixed-use, mixed-income development.
Opportunities for clean-up helped to offset the inherent disadvantages of brownfield conditions. The site's prime location, large size that allowed for scale, and the creation of a comprehensive master plan suggested significant redevelopment potential, and this made clean-up costs feasible.
The initial plan calls for 1,600 homes consisting of apartments, condominiums, townhouses, and single family dwellings. Ultimately, the master plan calls for 10,000 residences including student housing. Currently nearing completion in the "Park District" are 2:31 apartments for mixed-income families.
According to Brian Leary, vice president of design and development of the ATLANTIC STATION[R] project, "We have long been committed to providing a full range of housing options at ATLANTIC STATION[R]. This includes a commitment that no less than 25 percent of the total number of housing units within the community will be targeted for families at 80 percent of area median income."
Leary adds, "We feel that it is important to provide housing options for each and every employee who works at ATLANTIC STATION[R]. This includes entry-level workers as well as the corporate executive overseeing thousands of employees. The diversity of the residential product offered on-site gives the residents of ATLANTIC STATION[R] the opportunity to get out of their cars and enhances their quality of life."
The economic benefits of the ATLANTIC STATION[R] project will be significant. The project is expected to generate approximately 20,000 new jobs as part of the plan, which calls for over 1 million square feet of retail space and over 5 million square feet of office space. While some of these projected jobs will be transferred from other communities, opportunities for employment growth are still significant because the mixed-use characteristics of the development will create its own economic engine.
The retail component will include department stores and specialty shops, a grocery store, multiplex theater, restaurants, nightclubs, a hotel, and other such establishments. While these businesses typically emphasize service sector jobs, the entire job spectrum will be represented. Likewise, a wide variety of jobs will exist in the project's office space.
Some people will approach the retail and entertainment components of the ATLANTIC STATION[R] redevelopment as "play" rather than "work." But either way, the development will provide new opportunities for recreation. In addition to retail venues, the community includes a pedestrian plaza and park for leisure activities.
Transportation planning will benefit both those who commute into the ATLANTIC STATION[R] development for work or leisure activities and residents who commute elsewhere. Public bus service provides an easy link to the local MARTA train line, and the new 17th Street bridge offers access via a pedestrian walkway and bicycle lane. The landmark yellow bridge connects the community to the Midtown Atlanta neighborhood on the other side of the 1-75/I-85 "Downtown Connector. …