Tag Archives: downtown

The Price of Progress: Buses to be rerouted for streetcar construction

6 Oct

Love it or hate it, the first stage of construction of the Atlanta Streetcar will soon be underway. To make room for the construction, parts of bus routes that pass through the streetcar’s route are being shifted out of the way, beginning this Saturday, Oct. 8. The reroutes are scheduled to be in effect until at least mid-2013.

MARTA bus reroute notice sign

This bus stop at the intersection of Peachtree and Marietta Streets, currently served by routes 3, 16 and 110, will be out of service when construction on the streetcar project begins

Affected routes are:

  • 1 – Centennial Olympic Park / Coronet Way
  • 3 – Martin Luther King, Jr Drive / Auburn Avenue
  • 16 – Noble
  • 99 – Boulevard / Monroe Drive
  • 110 – Peachtree Street “The Peach”
  • 155 – Windsor Street / Lakewood Avenue
  • 186 – Rainbow Drive / South DeKalb

The reroutes will leave some stretches of downtown streets – Peachtree Street between Ellis Street and Five Points Station,  Auburn Avenue between Courtland and Peachtree Streets, and Edgewood Avenue between Courtland and Peachtree Streets, for example – without bus service for the better part of two years.

It will be interesting to see how the new detours, combined with last year’s service reductions, last month’s alignment and schedule changes, and last week’s fare increase go over with riders.

New maps, schedules and other details on the route modifications are at MARTA’s site.


Food Truck Wednesdays Downtown

10 Aug

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If you’re a downtown worker or student wondering what all the food truck fuss is about, but you can’t fit truck tracking into your schedule,  Food Truck Wednesdays puts the food where you are.

The convoy of mobile meal vendors sets up Wednesdays on the Lower Alabama Street plaza at Underground Atlanta from 11 a.m. to 2 pm. This week’s group included Tamale Queen, Tex’s Tacos, Hail Caesar, King of Pops, Honeysuckle Gelato, The Fry Guy and Sweet Auburn Barbecue.

City Council works out the streetcar’s NSF

3 Jun

This is the week during which the City of Atlanta was to conduct an internal audit to track down the $5.6 million it needs to cover its portion of the first segment of the downtown streetcar project.

According to a story in Saturday’s AJC, the City Council might have based its December 2010 decision to allocate funds for the project on faulty information provided by Chief Financial Officer Joya De Foor. De Foor became the city’s CFO in June 2010.

C.T. Martin, one of two council members who voted against the resolution, told the AJC that he believes De Foor herself wasn’t aware of the budgetary hole. “I know that the first action that happened on this happened before she got there and she was operating off information she was told,” Martin said. “Somebody told her that the money was there.”

The $5.6 million is part of Atlanta’s share of the streetcar project’s $56 million cost. The bulk of the project will be paid for by a $47.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, with the remaining $2.8 million coming from funds originally designated for other transportation projects along the same corridor the streetcar will serve.

What happened at Allen Plaza, plus an ARC transportation “wish list” database

18 Apr
W and 12 hotel and residence buildings

An undeveloped parcel of land on Ivan Allen Boulevard sits in the shadow of Allen Plazas W hotel and condominium tower and Novares Twelve Centennial Park

Rachel Tobin wrote a brief but through history of downtown’s troubled Allen Plaza development for Friday’s AJC.

Developer Hal Barry summarized the events leading up to the recent foreclosure of one of the project’s buildings. It’s a story that’s become all too familiar in the last few years:

“We did well and made a lot of money…[a]nd we turned around, as risk-taker developers do, and reinvested a lot of it in operating expenses and project investments. And then the market hits you broadside.”

Also on Friday, the AJC published an overview of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s transportation “wish list,” with a database of all the prospective projects on the region’s list .

Among the items MARTA requested are a variable regional fare system (sometimes referred to as “zone fares”) , on-board security cameras for all buses, trains and paratransit vehicles, an advertising system for the agency’s 10 miles of tunnels and the establishment of a cloud computing system to assist in post-disaster recovery and service continuity.

The 436-item list, with projects totaling about $29 billion, will be pared down first by the GDOT’s planning director, then by the 21 members of the Atlanta Regional Roundtable. Voters in each of the state’s 12 regions will decide during primary elections in 2012 whether to approve a new one percent sales tax to fund their regions’ projects.

In the Wind

7 Apr

Still some lingering damage downtown from the storm Monday.

Public comment meeting on MMPT proposals is March 30

17 Mar

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Although the Georgia Department of Transportation announced its choice for the development group for the MMPT project Monday, the agency has scheduled a public comment meeting on  March 30 from 4 to 7 p.m. at GDOT headquarters at North Avenue and W. Peachtree Street.

If you can’t make it to the meeting, contact GDOT about the project here.

H/T to Creative Loafing.

If you’d like to see the full presentation the slideshow images were chose from, it’s here [PDF].

Signs of life at Scene Cafe

28 Feb
Lights on at Scene Cafe

Work has resumed at Scene Cafe, after abruptly stopping during the summer

The paper covering the windows was back up when I went by tonight, but for the last few weekends, there’s been work going on inside the building that’s eventually to become Scene Cafe (assuming the name hasn’t changed along with the opening date). A November 2010 opening was originally planned for the restaurant/lounge, but the construction workers disappeared mid-summer and the project languished, half-built, until a few weeks ago.

The project appears to have taken a turn into DIY territory, as the only cars to be seen on the lot while work is going on are regular vehicles, no commercial trucks or contractor’s vans. The crescent-shaped window upstairs still doesn’t have glass, but it’s been covered with plywood, and the exterior ground-level area is kept lit at night now. The construction debris container has been taken away, brought back and taken away again.

The brown paper that’s usually over the lower windows was down Saturday night and the downstairs interior was emanating a green glow. It was hard to tell from the outside whether the color was produced by light fixtures or something on the walls. A drink cooler and bakery case could be seen inside about a week ago.

The next time I pass by while people are working inside I’ll get an update on the new projected opening date and find out whether the concept and name will be the same.

Why so fancy, Zipcar?

16 Dec

I drove an Audi A3 last week. Under normal circumstances, that’s not a sentence I would have anticipated ever writing. But the Civic and Mini convertible that used to reside in my closest Zipcar spaces have been replaced by the A3 and a Mazda 3.

While I appreciate the novelty of the experience, getting to Spa Sydell to retrieve my forgotten umbrella wasn’t any faster or easier than it would have been in the $7/hour Civic. The A3 cost $4.25 more per hour to rent, and had I been in an accident, would have certainly cost more to fix.

What’s with the luxury encroachment at so many Zipcar spots lately? It’s hard to imagine that people are complaining that the cars aren’t “nice” enough. Of course it’s possible, likely even, that there’s some marketing effort afoot here. What could be better than having people paying by the hour to drive your company’s car around a large city, especially one in which your brand’s popularity has taken off? Have you noticed how many more Audis are on the streets here now than there used to be? That can’t be a coincidence.

Imperial, overstretched

10 Nov

The development company that renovated the Imperial Hotel is in pretty dire straights, which could be very bad news for the people living there.

Imperial Hotel - Peachtree at Ivan Allen

According to Monday’s AJC, Progressive Redevelopment Inc. is in default on loans for six properties, the largest of which is the 120-unit apartment building at Peachtree and Ivan Allen. It’s scheduled to be sold at auction in January.

“Most of the money to rehabilitate the Imperial — about $8 million — came from low interest loans, tax credits and grants from Atlanta and the state. About $2 million is still owed to the city and the state, most of which will be lost in foreclosure.”

PRI specialized in developing residential properties for low-income residents and more than 1000 families stand to lose their homes because of the defaults, the AJC said.

“The company, ranked by the state as Georgia’s largest nonprofit developer, built or refurbished 38 projects with 4,000 apartments in 21 years, most in metro Atlanta.

PRI and a few partners owe more than $74 million and PRI is in default on at least 10 loans worth $8 million, including $5 million in government-backed loans.”

PRI already lost financial assistance from the state’s Department of Community Affairs earlier this year. DCA was the developer’s primary funding source.

It’s hard to decide whether to be concerned about the Imperial being sold. Is anyone really just itching to get his hands on a 99-year-old building that would require another renovation and an indeterminate number of years to draw profitable tenants?

It also seems unlikely that neither the state nor the city will step in before the worst happens. Allowing the low-income and formerly homeless residents of that building to be evicted would reflect badly on the state and would do nothing for Atlanta’s reputation as less-than-adept at addressing homelessness.

Finally, the Imperial sits just a block south of the Pine Street shelter, which was foreclosed on more than six months ago. Attorneys for that building’s new owner are still trying to wrestle it away from Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. The city is already defending itself against a lawsuit in which MATFH accused it of helping to orchestrate the foreclosure, so the mayor isn’t likely to want the city to be cast – again – as indifferent toward very poor people by allowing the Imperial’s residents to be put on the street.

But money to keep any of PRI’s properties afloat has to come from somewhere, and the bottom of the city’s and state’s budget barrels might have already been scraped. Measures that were unthinkable just a few years ago have had to be taken in plenty of other instances, so things could definitely go either way.

One step closer

10 Oct

The downtown Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal is inching a bit closer to becoming something we can use rather than something we keep hearing about.

The AJC reported Friday that Georgia DOT is scheduled to begin meeting with master developers interested in the project in just a few weeks. From Nov. 8 to Nov. 10 DOT representatives familiar with the legal, technical and financial aspects of the project will hold one-on-one meetings with leaders of development companies that are interested in submitting proposals, according to a late-September DOT press release.

I work in one of the buildings perched right over the gulch and walk right through there on my way from Five Points every (work)day. Far off though it still is, it’s going to make a huge difference to that part of downtown when that walk is through a someplace rather than a noplace.

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