ATLANTA -- Plans being set into place for 2017 could change the face of downtown Atlanta as leaders sketch out their long-term goals moving forward treating the city center as a blank canvas.
So what makes this area – and this year – so vital? Let’s check the numbers.
Between now and 2020, city officials anticipate more than 2,000 new student beds, 2,500 hotel rooms, and nearly 6,000 housing units.
The biggest number? The expected $4.4 billion in redevelopment.
That raises questions about how to respond to all that change. That’s what Downtown leaders are doing now. They’re midway through developing a "master plan" that will peer 5, 10 and even 20 years down the road.
They’re focusing on real estate, transportation and urban design. And they’ve started a series of public meetings that get input from those who live or work downtown.
“There are so many things going on here,” said Angie Laurie, vice president of transportation at Central Atlanta Progress. “People want to be downtown, want to spend more time here. ... We want this plan to capture all of that .”
Laurie oversees transportation for Central Atlanta Progress. And investments have been coming steadily in recent years - mostly involving a revitalized Centennial Park.
“We have new investments that are in the pipeline," she said.
Right now nearly 27,000 people live in Downtown and nearly six times as many people work there. So any master plan must cater to both.
Downtown Atlanta has already changed significantly since the Olympic Games two decades ago with a slew of museums, a Ferris wheel, and much more foot traffic.
But the newest development goes beyond hotels and businesses and includes a boost in apartments and living spaces. It puts a premium on how those people will get around.
“There’s a strong desire by a significant segment of the population not to have to travel in a single automobile,” Laurie said.
In recent years, the city has installed a bike-share program and the Atlanta streetcar. But Downtown planning leaders are bracing for population growth that will require more ways to get around that don’t include the car.
“We will be looking at roadway improvements, transit components,” Laurie said. “This time in 2017, we should have a master plan document.”
Laurie and others are taking a series of meetings to get public feedback on what they want and it’s all part of a project that should lay the groundwork for the next 15 to 20 years.