Maria Saporta | SaportaReport

MARTA galvanized the vision of dozens of developers and civic leaders who want to dedicate their energies on a handful of Atlanta projects in the upcoming year.

The Urban Land Institute’s Livable Communities Council spent all of March 26 at the Ritz Carlton Atlanta working on ideas on where they could have the greatest impact on the future development of Atlanta.

This is the first time that the reconfigured group has gotten together since the Livable Communities Coalition merged with the Urban Land Institute. Developer David Allman helped orchestrate that merger, and Mark Toro, managing partner of North American Properties, is the new LCC chair.

In the end, the group of about 40 of the 50 LCC members picked four projects to work on:

  1. Help develop affordable workforce housing along the Atlanta BeltLine;
  2. Explore “transit-oriented development” opportunities along MARTA’s south and west transit lines;
  3. Explore the opportunities to reinvigorate Underground Atlanta; and
  4. Transform the Lindbergh MARTA station into a national “transit-oriented development” model.

The other choices had included to work on an economic development strategy for the Atlanta BeltLine; to help redevelop the area around the new Atlanta Falcons stadium; and to help jumpstart the redevelopment of Fort McPherson.

Atlanta is a fascinating city to watch. MARTA was approved by voters in Fulton and DeKalb counties in 1971, and rail service began more than 30 years ago.

But in many ways, it has taken decades for both MARTA and developers to fully realize the benefits of building residences, offices and retail on top or next to MARTA stations. Transit-oriented developments help drive ridership on MARTA, it reduces the need for people to travel by car, and it creates a synergy between transportation and land-use. {….}