The extensive renovation of the 103-year-old Imperial Hotel at Peachtree Street and Ivan Allen Boulevard is scheduled to be completed later this year. The building was converted to low-income housing in the mid-90s after sitting vacant for about decade and was purchased by Columbia Residential and National Church Residences in early 2011 when it was in danger of foreclosure.
Believe it or not, those blotches of white paint in the foreground used to be a crosswalk. Over the last three years it’s slowly disappeared, reducing the chances that cars will stop for pedestrians here from “not that great” to “yeah, right.”
It’s in a “channelized” or separated right turn lane at the intersection of Ralph McGill Boulevard and Courtland Street, where cars making the right turn from Courtland are often speeding. If the light is red drivers generally slow down just enough to check for cars approaching from the east on Ralph McGill. If the light is green they’ll sometimes even speed up as they make the turn so they can beat pedestrians to the crosswalk rather than yield.
Faded crosswalks, missing curb ramps, broken or blocked sidewalks and other dangerous conditions can be reported to the City of Atlanta’s Department of Public Works with the pedestrian hazard reporting tool at PEDS.
You should receive an email with a confirmation number within a day and the requested repairs are generally supposed to be completed within 30 days. This M.I.A. crosswalk was reported on January 3, so we’ll see how long it takes for it to reappear.
510 Piedmont Avenue has undergone a dramatic renovation and is now home to Poor Calvin’s, a Thai-American restaurant. The building sat empty for most of this year after O’Terrill’s Irish Pub closed in early January.
A staff member said that Poor Calvin’s expects to receive its liquor license from the city at the beginning of the year, but in the meantime welcomes guests to BYOB with no corkage fee and offers to-go orders. Things were pretty slow at the new restaurant last Sunday night, but there are already reviews up on Yelp and Urban Spoon, so word is slowly getting out.
The location on that five-lane, one-way stretch of Piedmont
Highway Avenue might prove to be a challenge, but the site also has the advantage of being on a corner, which will allow people driving there to reach it from two other directions. Better yet, about 1,000 units worth of apartment and condo dwellers can get there by walking anywhere from two to 20 minutes.
- MARTA’s board voted unanimously Thursday night to select Keith Parker, current head of San Antonio’s VIA transit agency, as new general manager and CEO. Before VIA, Parker was head of the Charlotte Area Transit System from 2000 to 2009. [Creative Loafing]
- State Attorney General Sam Olens is still investigating a complaint filed by MARTOC chairman Mike Jacobs that MARTA’s board members violated state open meetings law by submitting their choices for the new general manager via email weeks before the official vote was held. [WABE]
- Atlanta Streets Alive is back Sunday, this time with a route that includes the Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail
- Another new residential project – the perhaps aspirationally named “Bohemian House” – broke ground this week on Rankin Street near Historic Fourth Ward Park. The 276-unit building is scheduled to open next fall. The apartments are being built by North American properties, which also owns the retail portion of Atlantic Station. [Creative Loafing]
- Speaking of Atlantic Station, a 156,000 square-foot youth sports complex has been proposed for construction in the industrial pocket in the Loring Heights neighborhood, just across the railroad tracks to the north of Atlantic Station. [Midtown Patch via Curbed Atlanta]
1. A rubber-banded bundle of MAC lip glosses (Not in the boxes)
2. A reduced-fare Breeze card
3. Several brands of baby formula
5. Mini-bottles of liquor
6. “Socks! DVDs! Socks! DVDs!”
7. A “gold” chain wadded up in a paper napkin
8. A plastic bag of costume jewelry and a “leather” jacket
9. A mix CD: $5, unless you only have $2, in which case he’ll take that
10. A copy of Creative Loafing
- The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported today that MARTA CEO Beverly Scott is headed to Boston to become MBTA’s general manager when her contract with MARTA expires in December.
Scott spent five years as MARTA CEO and will take a significant salary cut in the new position, which Boston’s WBUR said will pay $220,000 per year for three years. MARTOC’s annual report for fiscal year 2011 lists Scotts salary as $315,000 per year.
She was chosen unanimously by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s board, which was also considering MARTA COO Dwight Ferrell for the job.
“She’ll take the helm of an agency teetering from fiscal problems rooted in heavy debt and coping with expansion demands as well as a backlog of maintenance needs that have gone unaddressed due to insufficient funds,” the Boston radio station said. Sounds like she’ll feel right at home.
Scott, who is scheduled to take up the new post Dec. 15., plans to finish her transportation career at MBTA, telling WBUR that ”This is the one where I’m going to end up.”
- Back in Atlanta, draft results from the second phase of the “deep dive audit” that MARTA commissioned last year are in. The findings so far are mostly grim.
The auditing firm projects that, although MARTA has addressed a steep fall-off in revenue through layoffs, furloughs, position eliminations, increases in employee insurance premiums and copays, a five-year pay freeze and service cuts galore, the agency’s spending will continue to surpass revenue through 2021 . According to that forecast the revenue shortfall created by the end of fiscal year 2021 would be $248 million. The audit also projected that MARTA will exhaust its financial reserves by the end of fiscal year 2018 and the agency’s reserve fund will fall below its mandated 10 percent level by the end of fiscal year 2016.
“MARTA’s current economic model is unsustainable,” the auditors concluded.
Two revenue leaks that the agency has failed to plug, Creative Loafing reported, are almost $11 million spent to cover employee absenteeism, and retirement costs that exceed the national average by about $22 million annually. The audit report said that collective bargaining agreements with union-represented employees “do not assist MARTA in controlling absenteeism.”
Suggestions to help MARTA save money included contracting out some services like cleaning, payroll, records and data management and customer service. To increase its income, the auditors suggested that MARTA look into selling advertising space on its Web site, on fare cards and fare gates along with increasing the number of ad-wrapped buses and rail cars. They also recommended that MARTA implement daily or monthly parking fees, rent secure bicycle storage at stations and consider “renaming stations for corporate sponsors.”
- Good news/bad news from MARTA: A new round of bus service changes – mostly to align published arrival times more closely with when the buses are really showing up – went into effect Saturday for 27 routes. But the southwest entrance to Peachtree Center Station is open again, after being closed for two years for renovation and repairs.
- From BuckheadView: Representatives of the ownership at Lenox Square mall presented proposed changes to the mall’s facade to the neighborhood’s design review committee. One of the new features to the entrance will be pedestrian access directly from Peachtree Road. That will be a big improvement on this:
- From Curbed Atlanta: Stanley Beaman Sears was selected in the City of Atlanta’s design competition as the firm to convert the first floor lobby of 72 Marietta Street into a gallery space. The building was formerly The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s headquarters building. The newspaper’s parent company donated the building to the city after the AJC’s move to Dunwoody in 2010.
- The latest “regional snapshot”from the Atlanta Regional Commission focuses on the dramatic slowdown in the Atlanta metro area’s population growth in the last few years. The region’s population increased by about 37,200 people between April 1, 2011 and April 1, 2012 and by about 72,000 in the last two years, according to ARC’s research. In comparison, the region’s population increased by about 100,000 people each year during the decade between 1990 and 2000.
The root of the change, unsurprisingly, is in the wobbly economy. “The Atlanta region’s slowdown is directly attributable to the national economy. During weak economic periods, people don’t move as much because, firstly, job opportunities are slim, thus people aren’t moving to take new jobs. Secondly, with the housing market in such disarray, it is hard to sell a house, which tends to keep people in the same place,” ARC concluded.
The Mitchell Street bridge in Castleberry Hill will officially re-open Thursday morning after a two-year reconstruction by the Georgia DOT. The bridge was closed in 2008 after transportation officials found it inadequate for the type and volume of traffic it was carrying, and construction began in 2010.
More than $8 million in federal stimulus funds were used to reconstruct the 88-year-old bridge, which now has bike lanes on both sides and parking along the south side.
Atlanta is among the top 20 tweeting-est cities in the world - one of only six American cities to make the list – according to a study by a French research and consulting firm
I’d planned to write something about how rare it is in Atlanta to come across public places like the plaza behind Terminus at Peachtree and Piedmont. It’s breezy in the summer, protected from rain and has plenty of seating and a view in both directions. But nearly as soon as this photo was taken, a member of the Terminus security staff appeared and apologetically said that the building’s management doesn’t allow photography there. So much for public.
- The City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs‘ competition to redesign the lobby of 72 Marietta Street for use as a gallery space is in its second phase, with the list of competing firms down to four.
The building was left vacant in 2010 when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution moved to offices in Dunwoody and the paper’s parent company donated the building to the city a few months later. The short-listed firms will present their designs to a panel on June 28, the winner of the competition will be announced July 1 and the gallery is scheduled to open in October.
- If you’re still in the air about which way to vote in the July transportation tax referendum, or you have questions you haven’t been answered anywhere else, you can pull up a chair at one of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s 12 “wireside chats” in June. The conversations with local officials will take place over six days in June and give voters a chance to speak directly to representatives from each of the 10 counties in the Atlanta region.
Here’s how the event works:
“Advertised 6 weeks in advance, citizens will be asked to sign up for any of the 12 chats providing a phone number at which they can be reached. Several days in advance they will receive email reminders with background information attached. The night of the scheduled conversation, citizens will be called at the number they registered and have the opportunity to ask questions. Any question not answered live will be answered in writing following the call. “
Registration open now, online and at 404.463.3227.