Subarea 3 Workshop Summary

June 12, 2017
Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church

On Monday evening, June 12th, Council member Ivory Young and the City of Atlanta Department of City Planning welcomed the public to a “subarea workshop” for the D3: Westside Revive project. Due to the range and diversity within District 3’s many neighborhoods, the planning team divided the district into 9 geographic “subareas,” so that residents can focus on the issues and opportunities specific to their community.

For this event, [30-40] neighbors and stakeholders gathered at Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church to participate in a workshop designed specifically for Subarea 3, which includes Knight Park and Howell Station.

Council member Young welcomed attendees and discussed the overall vision for D3. “Howell Station is one of the gems of Atlanta,” he said. “How do you protect your investment in this community; how do you ensure that what you bought into is what you’ll keep, what you’ll preserve.” Young referenced some of the challenges (industrial uses, dangerous traffic) and opportunities (Knight Park plans, interest from outside developers) facing the neighborhood. “The process that you’re embarking on now,” he said, “will give direction to future land use and zoning and complement your planning work for the future park.”

Lead consultant Contente Terry then reviewed the planning process, timeline, and introduced the planning team. She explained the purposes of the workshop and how participants would be able to give feedback at the activity stations.

Next, transportation planner, Amber ___ shared some preliminary analysis of the neighborhood’s traffic challenges. At this point, several audience members commented on their concerns about their neighborhood “being used a cut-through” as traffic increases in the area with new development and destination parks.

Finally, lead urban designer Herman Howard began by introducing a set of questions and issues impacting Subarea 3 where the planning team was seeking feedback. “While this Subarea is much smaller than the others we’ve studied, it is more difficult,” he explained, because of its “strong industrial edges.” Key sites and projects that would affect plans included the future Westside Reservoir Park, the Beltline trail, the Bankhead MARTA station, improvements to Knight Park, and potential redevelopment of several industrial sites in the area—all sites where concentrations of people and economic activity could translate into development opportunities. As part of his concluding remarks, Howard introduced Wesley Defoor, a representative of Cornerstone Development Partners, as one example of the many developers proposing a mixed-use project on West Midtown’s former industrial sites.

In the second hour of the workshop, participants moved to the church gym to visit the three breakout stations.

Station 1. Discover

Howell Stations residents shared their knowledge of the historic character and legacy of the neighborhood. Some shared these stories on video, while others explored historic aerial maps and added their memories to a large-scale timeline graphic on the wall.

Station 2. Discuss

At this station, residents had the opportunity to share their thoughts on their neighborhood regarding eight topics that will be used to develop the Well-being Index: Housing, Jobs and Income, Education, Environment, Health, Safety, Community and Civic Engagement, and Connectivity. Residents provided comments by pinning cards on pin-up boards and a district-wide map, and by participating a 40-question survey.

Station 3. Design

Participants reviewed large table maps to identify key sites for improvements in housing, green/open spaces, transportation/connectivity, pedestrian and bike trails, commercial/retail, and job centers. They could pin precedent images to the map representing desired improvements.

Each breakout station offered creative ways for participants to contribute feedback and prompted conversations with the planning team. Attendees were encouraged to follow the project website (www.d3-westsiderevive.com) and to return in 2 weeks for the follow-up presentation on their subarea.