Southeast Atlanta Rallies for "Smart" Development
Residents come out to protest Glenwood Place development plans, citing traffic, BeltLine Overlay regulations.
Scores of residents from Grant Park, Ormewood Park, Glenwood Park and East Atlanta rallied Monday night to protest plans for a massive development that would bring 199,050-square feet of retail, including a 155,000-square-foot big box retailer to 800 Glenwood Ave.
Protesters who gathered in Glenwood Park's Brasfield Square, said they aren't opposed to development nor are they against Fuqua Development LLC, the Atlanta-based developer behind the proposed Glenwood Place project.
The plans also call for some 1,000 parking spaces to the site that's just off Bill Kennedy Way and across the street from Jackson High School in the Grant Park neighborhood.
"The developer simply looks at a vacant industrial property and doesn't see all of the neighborhoods, all of the people, all of our neighbors here, who live here, who made a place here in the city of Atlanta," Sandy Callahan a Glenwood Park resident and attorney, who, along with Meg Modjeski, helped organize the rally, told participants.
Those who oppose the project as it stands now, say it's not in keeping with the Atlanta BeltLine Master Plan and the BeltLine Overlay District regulations, which call for mixed-used development and a grid of walkable, interconnected streets.
"The BeltLine Plan and Glenwood Park and all of our neighbors, believe in the new urbanism," Callahan continued. "And that means walkalbilty, smaller connected streets, getting people out walking in the city, making it easier for people to ride their skateboards, ride their bicycles."
As designed now, he said, the scale of the project is a better fit for the suburbs rather than an intown neighborhood.
What's more, both Glenwood Avenue and Bill Kennedy Way are two-lane streets not equipped to handle the additional 10,000 cars that are likely to come to Glenwood Place, nor can they accomodate the giant tractor trailers that would be makin opponents say.
"We want appropriate development for this neighborhood, which is a new urban and sustainable neighborhood where we can walk, ride our bicycles and promote small business," Laurie Schock of Glenwood Park told East Atlanta Patch.
"Absolutely we want development there, but we want it in the manner that the BeltLine envisioned and in the manner that that we envisioned when we bought into Glenwood Park, which is a perfect example of that."
Indeed, Glenwood Park, a $150 million development and brianchild of Mindspring Enterprises' Charles Brewer, was designed with walkability and mixed use in mind. As it was, Brewer was among those who attended the rally.
Last week, Neighborhood Planning Unit-W, which advocates for several Southeast Atlanta neighborhoods, officially opposed the project, saying it contradicts and violates development guidelines outlined in the Atlanta BeltLine Master Plan and the BeltLine Overlay District regulations.
NPU-W sought and received letters of support from several of its sister NPUs from elsewhere in the city.
For its part, the Atlanta BeltLine Inc. has not yet not come out with an official stance regarding the project.
"New development is critical to the future of the city and the Atlanta BeltLine," spokesman Ethan Davidson told Patch.
"ABI does not have an official position on this particular development. ABI supports the master plans and zoning overlay district and works with the city through its land use and zoning processes."
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed hasn't taken an official stance on the controversy either, his senior policy advisor said.
"Right now, all we're doing is listening to all parties involved," Michael Sterling, Reed's senior policy advisor said after the rally. "He's going to let this play out and go through its process, through the planning department and zoning department, but in the meantime, he' going to hear what the community has to say."
Callahan said opponents needed to be vocal now, while it's still under city review.
Several city and state leaders, including State Sen. Nan Orrock, of Ormewood Park and Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong echoed those sentiments, telling the crowd that they needed to keep the pressure on the various city agencies and Fuqua Development and its principal, Jeffrey S. Fuqua.
"I hear you; I am very concerned," Archibong said. "I want them to know our voices matter.
Archibong told the crowd that in a conference call with the city planning department that she was asked why residents would hold a rally when no decision has been made.
"We are not stupid," Archibong said. "If we wait until the decisions are made, it is too late."
Orrock reminded the crowd that the Inman Park community was threatened with non-existence in the early 1970s, when a then-planned expansion of I-675 to connect it to Ga. 400 called for it to come right through the neighborhood.
"That would have been an interstate highway running over there where Freedom Parkway is," she said. "And they chained themselves to trees to keep from cutting down trees in those historic parks."