Subarea 4 Workshop Summary

June 26, 2017
Grace Midtown Church

On Monday evening, June 26th, 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, [25] neighbors and stakeholders gathered at Grace Midtown Church to participate in a workshop designed specifically for Subarea 4, which includes Home Park.

Councilmember Young welcomed attendees via a pre-recorded video message. “We do face a lot of challenges,” he said, referring to development pressures in this rapidly-changing area. “And we don’t have a prayer without your input in this plan.” Councilmember Young’s Chief of Staff, Mi-Lan Henderson, along with Project Manager Shayla Reed from the Office of City Planning, welcomed attendees and thanked them for their participation.

Lead consultant Contente Terry then reviewed the planning process, timeline, and introduced the team for D3: Westside Revive. She explained the purpose of the workshop and how participants would be able to give feedback at the activity stations.

“We are here to provide information to help you make decisions about your neighborhood’s future.” She noted that initial market and demographic analysis for the subarea revealed a high amount of renters, a well-known challenge and opportunity for the future of Home Park.

Next, transportation planner, Olen Daelhousen reviewed the key transportation ideas 2002 from the Greater Home Park Master Plan, including recommendations implemented and outstanding projects. The D3 framwork should revisit these plans in consideration significant new developments (West Midtown, Beltline connections) since the plan was adopted, new funding sources available (MARTA’s T-SPLOST) and the forthcoming Atlanta City Design project. A meeting attendee pointed out the Blueprints for Home Park plan should be incorporated as a baseline for community feedback. Another audience member registered his concerns about the increase in traffic congestion as more residential units are developed along 14th Street.

Finally, lead urban designer John Skach led the group through a series of slides outlining the key issues and opportunities facing Home Park, and the progress made over the last 15 years since 2002 plan. As a testament to the power of a solid plan, he said “it’s remarkable that you’ve been able to preserve this nice, lively neighborhood and resist some of the things going on around you.” While some adjacent anchor districts like Georgia Tech, White Provisions, and Atlantic Station have grown into assets, rapid suburban development along Northside Drive has been more problematic. “What does the future look like?” he asked. “We can’t leave this meeting without addressing this big question of these two key corridors: Northside Drive and 14th Street.” He invited participants to join him at the large-scale map in the next room to discuss details.

Audience members raised the issue of zoning changes in the neighborhood that are not approved by homeowners. In one case, dozens of new voters – chiefly renters and employees of local businesses – had been lobbied to attend neighborhood association meetings at key votes on land use decisions. “How do we validate residents?” they asked, concerned that “predatory commercial interests” were outnumbering the wishes of residents and homeowners. This is a unique issue in the district and planning team agreed to research and make recommendations on revising the neighborhood association by-laws to allow only participating members to vote.

For the second hour of the workshop, participants moved to an adjacent meeting room to visit the three breakout stations.

Station 1. Discover 

Home Park residents shared their knowledge of the historic character and legacy of the neighborhood. Several residents gave oral histories on Home Park, popular restaurants and businesses in the Georgia Tech area, and churches in the neighborhood. Originally a small steel mill village, Home Park has had to fight to maintain its integrity as a residential community in the face of rapid commercial and institutional development on all sides.

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.