The new construction phase of the BeltLine stretches from DeKalb Ave to Monroe Dr.
ATLANTA -- For more than a decade, Atlanta residents have been hearing about the BeltLine. It's a $2.8 Billion dollar project turning the city's old railroad loop into a massive redevelopment project. Leaders in the Old Fourth Ward are now telling people to keep off.
"When we first came in to the Old Fourth Ward in 1997, it was a pretty scary place," said Jake Rothschild, owner of Jake's Ice Cream.
But he still saw a sweet future for the neighborhood. "It's just become a more friendly, warm place to be. More people are walking, talking to each other. Cars are slowing down," he said.
Like a ribbon of red velvet through Jake's Ice Cream, the BeltLine flows right past his shop: "We do see a lot of pedestrian traffic that we didn't see two years ago, so now, it's getting even busier."
A mile down the rocky trail, the Historic Old Fourth Ward Park will officially open June 18. "This is an area a lot of people can walk to," said Alisa Chambers with the Old Fourth Ward Conservancy. "This is their community. This is their community park."
After years of drumming up excitement, finally there's a buzz about the beltline. People in Inman Park and the Old Fourth Ward are using it. But now, there's a new message: "We really need people to stay out of the corridor to allow us to build this."
Atlanta BeltLine President Brian Leary tells 11Alive News the busy stretch of BeltLine from DeKalb Avenue to Monroe Drive is closed for construction until January. Right now, there is little signage and much confusion.
"We've gone door-to-door to every business and resident within two blocks of the Atlanta BeltLine to give them a flyer and a memo about what's going on, when it's going on, and what to expect," Leary said.
This stretch of the BeltLine has access points all along the construction route. They are not able to fence people out, so they're simply asking. They say if joggers, dog-walkers, and bikers keep coming, it will delay construction, take longer, and be more expensive. So, after years of encouraging people to get on board, the message (for now) is "keep out."
It means through the very-walkable summer and the height of ice cream season, Jake won't be getting the BeltLine spillover. Always looking for the sweet side of things, he's focusing on NEXT summer, when the muddy path will be paved, signed, and safe.
"We're going to have to be patient because this is such a big boon to Atlanta, and we need it," he said.