Atlanta to unveil its plans for the future

Strategy to shape look and feel of city for next 20 years

By Ernie Suggs
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By 2030, Atlanta will have at least 100,000 more people — along with greater traffic problems, a need for additional green space and the desire for more economic development.
Where and how those people will shop, live, play, get around and work is now on Atlanta’s table.
The city’s planning office is set to unveil its 2011 Comprehensive Development Plan, a long-term strategy to shape the look and feel of the city over the next 20 years.
In it are detailed assessments, projections and predictions of how the city will change over the next two decades, including areas such as transportation, economic development, housing and urban design.
Several years ago, a similar plan identified the need to redevelop the old Atlantic Steel location. That site is now Atlantic Station.
It’s not known whether something like that is on the horizon, but Charletta Wilson Jacks, director of the office of planning, said the potential is there.
“This is a planning tool,” Jacks said. “It gives us the guiding principals. We need a road map to address growth and development in the city.”
In creating the development plan, Jacks said Atlanta is complying with state regulations that require local jurisdictions to periodically update their plans to remain eligible for state and federal grants. Atlanta specifically mandates the preparation of a CDP every three to five years.
Jacks said that instead of merely updating the last plan, they have created a whole “new document.”
Jessica Lavandier, an urban planner for the city and project manager for the CDP, said Atlanta’s population growth will play a key role in future planning.
After 20 years of population decline, Atlanta’s population grew from 416,474 in 2000 to 540,921 by 2009, a 29 percent increase.
By 2030, the population is expected to grow by another 104,660 new residents, Lavandier said.
She added that while Atlanta’s population has grown over the past 10 years, the number of jobs has decreased by more than 90,000 and the percentage of residents living in poverty remains among the highest in the nation.
One idea in the plan is creating zones in select areas of the city that would provide state job tax credits and incentives for job growth.
Another idea would be to attract bioscience opportunities around research institutions, medical facilities and Fort McPherson.
According to the plan, green space is another area that has to be addressed. Several studies have shown Atlanta has less green space than other cities of comparable size and density.
To address that, one suggestion would be to adopt a master plan for each city park to guide the pursuit of funding and create capital improvement plans.
Starting today, there will be a series of seven meetings to introduce the plan to various sections of the community and get feedback.
The city will hold two additional series of community meetings before the plan has to be finalized Oct. 31.
“From a planning perspective, this step is very important because the issues and opportunities identified by the residents will set the stage for establishing policy directives,” Jacks said. “How do we move forward? How do we evolve into the city that the citizens envision?”

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