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2013: A Year in Review in East Atlanta Patch

The biggest stories of the year.

Signs calling for an end to violence and crime were a familiar sight in Atlanta. This one was at a nighttime vigil for Patrick Cotrona, the East Atlanta resident gunned down this summer during a robbery. PHOTO CREDIT: Péralte Paul
Signs calling for an end to violence and crime were a familiar sight in Atlanta. This one was at a nighttime vigil for Patrick Cotrona, the East Atlanta resident gunned down this summer during a robbery. PHOTO CREDIT: Péralte Paul
Crime.

That best sums up the most pressing issue to collectively hit the communities of East Atlanta Patch in 2013.

Crime is always an issue in a major metropolitan city, but 2013 left some of our communities feeling like they were under siege and slipping backwards after years of newcomers choosing to call our neighborhoods home.

But in a year where East Atlanta Patch communities saw 15 homicides — six of them in the East Atlanta neighborhood alone — we heard from many readers who wondered if it was worth staying in Atlanta at all. Why not move to Decatur or Cobb, North Fulton or Gwinnett counties?

It was the biggest issue in this year's municipal elections in which Natalyn Archibong, whose district includes East Atlanta, Lake Claire and Kirkwood, battled three serious challengers for re-election.

And it forced Mayor Kasim Reed to finally meet taxpayers south of Interstate-20 in person and address their fears.

That he has continually stressed crime is down overall citywide and the police department has more officers than at any time in the Atlanta history did little to dent the perception that while things may be better "over there," it certainly doesn't feel that way here.

If we have anyone to thank for sparking and ensuring the continued pressure the city felt this year, it would have to be Kate Controna Krumm. Her brother, Patrick Cotrona, was murdered this summer during a robbery while walking to the East Atlanta Village from his May Avenue home with friends.

Not wanting her brother to be known simply as "victim," she has been a tireless crusader in keeping city leaders accountable by making her brother a real person to Atlanta. A person who had a family, friends, hopes and made a difference to those he knew personally.

It was, sadly, the biggest story in our Patch in 2013. But, as she has said several times since his death, Krumm hopes it will not have been in vain and that it will be the catalyst for true change and a serious focus from all parties in the city to address its crime problem.

Crime wasn't the only big issue to affect our Patch neighborhoods; development or redevelopment, notable deaths and some lighter stories also resonated with readers.

Here are some of the other big stories of the year:
  • 280 Elizabeth St. Project: This $45 million mixed-use retail and residential project, after months of discussion and some impassioned debate about its impact on the historic Inman Park community, broke ground this summer. It is expected to be complete in the latter half of 2014.
  • Piper the BeltLine Cat: While scores of Atlantans welcomed the opening of parts of the Atlanta BeltLine, many were captivated by a little black cat, Piper who made a home in one of the greenspace's drainage pipes on the Eastside Trail near Old Fourth Ward. Passersby left her food and treats and someone built her a mailbox for her cadre of fans. Though a construction project led to her eviction, she found a new forever home with a family in Virginia-Highland.
  • 800 Glenwood Place: It wasn't a question of "if" or "when" but "what" in Grant Park with a planned retail development at 800 Glenwood Ave. off Bill Kennedy Way. The project, which would be anchored by a big-box retailer, sparked challenge after challenge by the community, which said it wasn't in keeping with the desires of the neighborhood or established neighborhood and BeltLine development guidelines. It also sparked a legislative change by the neighborhood's representative to the City Council, Carla Smith, and several ongoing legal actions.
  • Grant Park and Atlanta as a whole said goodbye to Chef Ria Pell, who died suddenly from complications connected to an undetected enlarged heart. Her Ria's Bluebird Café on Memorial Drive was viewed as a key catalyst for sparking a redevelopment of the Memorial Drive corridor that runs through Grant Park.
  • Atlanta Braves say "buh-bye" to its namesake city: If anyone ever doubted that you can plan a major move and development project — involving a pro-league team no less — and keep it a secret, this was it. The Summerhill neighborhood, home to Turner Field and Atlanta City Hall, which spent much of its political capital trying to please the Atlanta Falcons from making good on its threat to leave, were caught off-guard. The Braves, who have a better winning record than the Falcons and arguably the sports franchise associated with the city, are leaving for a $672 million stadium in Cobb County in 2017.
  • Edgewood Avenue Bridge Closure: Infrastructure problems seem to be a continual problem in Atlanta, which has seen its share of street collapses. But residents of Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park, which are connected by the bridge had to come up with new traffic routes as the 107-year-old span was in such bad shape it teetered on being structurally unsound.
  • Candler Park Master Plan: After months of discussion and some hurt feelings (judging by some of the e-mails we received), a Pax Romana of sorts returned following the neighborhood's vote to approve a master plan that encompasses its desire for future development and redevelopment.
  • Gunshow comes to Glenwood Park: Celebrity Chef Kevin Gillespie didn't disappoint with the opening this year of his long-anticipated restaurant, Gunshow. The Top Chef alum, who left Woodfire Grill to open his eatery, has made it a hit with followers as well as local dining critics who said it is among the best restaurants to open in 2013.
  • Krog Street Market: Inman Park welcomed the $70 million redevelopment of the the Krog Street Market, which is transforming the old Tyler Perry soundstages into a destination spot. The project, which is still in metomorphasis stage, has already signed a number of tenants, including Chefs Ford Fry and Kevin Maxey and the Spotted Trotter.
Kate Cotrona Krumm December 30, 2013 at 12:17 PM
It's not over. My brother's killers are still at large, and more of these vile individuals continue to murder . . . Xavier, just last week was the Zone's most recent victim. I hope 2014 sees justice and renewed pressure on our city leaders to focus on Atlanta's most victimized neighborhoods: those occupied by the middle class.
Craig December 30, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Wild horses couldn't drag me to Cobb, North Fulton, Gwinnett, or even Decatur.
Pat Henry January 01, 2014 at 11:29 AM
Kate - has there been any progress at all in you brother's case? Rest assured that we have not forgotten. I have thought for a long time that the sketches of the suspects in the robberies at the same time should have been circulated at MARTA stops, to high school teachers in town etc. Please let us know of any updates, I haven't seen anything from the media.

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