ATLANTA -- The Georgia Dome is flanked by acres of parking lots. Many of them are uneven plots of privately owned land that have almost no life unless there's a football game. In a city that is ambitious to develop property around the new football stadium that will replace the dome, the private lots stand as impediments, according to Robin Gagnon of the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association. "It absolutely stifles development for the parking lot use to be continued," Gagnon said Friday.
The Castleberry Hill group is asking the city of Atlanta to enforce restrictions that would put the lots out of business -- and give their owners an incentive to sell them to developers. "With retail space, mixed use-- any type of development that will encourage economic activity rather than see it remain as flat parking lots," Gagnon said.
The example that they use is at Turner Field, which is also surrounded by vacant lots used for parking during the baseball season. Community leaders say the lots stifled the type of development the Braves and the city wanted to see around Turner Field -- but never materialized.
"I think we're going to work at solving it," Mayor Kasim Reed said Wednesday. Reed acknowledged that the new football stadium gives the city an opportunity to avoid the economic stagnation that afflicted Turner Field -- and helped drive the Braves to the suburbs.
"We're going to have to do better and I think that we will," Reed said.
Gagnon says the city needs to avoid the pitfalls that stifled development around Turner Field and being more creative with parking lot space. "We're saying to the city, this is the time to get things right."