1959 Film from ULI and National Association of Homebuilders Warns of Urban Sprawl

This 1959 film, “Community Growth, Crisis and Challenge,” warns citizens, developers, and city officials of the dangers of urban sprawl.  This historical artifact, co-sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the Urban Land Institute ULI) provides alternative approaches to land development.  The film was produced by the NAHB. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1W3onge7BY&feature=colike
For more information on ULI’s historical 75 years, go to:  http://www.uli75.org

NPU-B Denies Rezoning for Sembler Co. Project

From Buckhead Patch

NPU-B Tuesday night turned down for the second time the Sembler Co.’s rezoning request for a retail project at Piedmont Road and Lindbergh Drive.
Sembler sought to rezone land in the corridor along Morosgo and Adina drives from high density residential to high density commercial for what has previously been described as a grocery store. But NPU Chairperson Sally Silver and other NPU members have expressed concern that the project would turn out to be of much larger scale than a typical supermarket.
The NPU previously rejected the rezoning for the SPI-15 area near the Lindbergh MARTA Station because Sembler didn’t have a site plan to show the board. Silver on Tuesday said the company had indicated its willingness to offer a “conceptual” site plan, but the board again unanimously rejected the rezoning request.
Silver had called the NPU into executive session to take the vote, although three reporters remained in the Hyland Center at Christ the King Cathedral during the discussion and vote.
NPU members expressed concern that Sembler is seeking to build a “big box” store, possibly a Lowe’s, at the site. Silver said that such a store would bring in traffic from outside the area, countering SPI-15 aims to make the site a vibrant urban area of high-rise apartments and condos with small, local shops and restaurants. The area, near Sembler’s Home Depot-anchored Lindbergh Plaza, consists of apartments and shops around the Lindbergh MARTA station.

Sembler grocery store plan for Lindbergh and Piedmont area hits a few major approval snags

From BuckheadView by John Schaffner
 

Those who read early in August that a large grocery store might be coming to near the intersection of Lindbergh Drive and Piedmont Road, and were anticipating their first shopping trip, might want to put those shopping bags back in the closet.
That grocery store, which was anticipated as part of a Sembler Co. commercial retail strip development on 10 acres bordered by Lindbergh, Morosgo and Adina drives has run into a heap of denials for land use changes and likely will be a long time in the future if it happens at all.
At its Aug. 2 board meeting, Neighborhood Planning Unit B approved unanimously two zoning ordinances, which amended the Piedmont commercial corridor regulations to remove a minimum residential requirement for the property. The NPU board recognized the need for a major grocery store to fill a huge void and provide a needed amenity in the area.
From the August NPU-B meeting to its September meeting, the support seemed to dramatically erode. When it came to deciding on whether or not to approve an amendment to the land use element of the 2011 Atlanta Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) at the September meeting the NPU board questioned a number of factors.
First of all, while the NPU-B board had been envisioning a Public or Kroger grocery store as part of the development, the Sembler people had mentioned a Wal-Mart Super Store during discussions with the Design Review Committee. That was not acceptable to the NPU board.
Then board members asked to see a site plan for what Sembler was planning to build. They were told there was no site plan and would not be one until after all the approvals for the project. That too was unacceptable to the NPU board members.
The NPU-B board offered attorney Larry Dingle, who attended the September meeting representing Sembler, the opportunity to defer action on the land use amendment request until Sembler could present a site plan for the board to review along with assurances of what the grocery store would be.
The board even agreed to wait for a day or two to hear from Dingle if his client wanted that or wanted the NPU board to vote on a denial of the request. The board had agreed to do a formal vote by email after hearing from Sembler.
Dingle said there was no reason to wait, he knew his client would prefer for and up-or-down vote that night from the NPU on either approval or denial. The NPU board voted 25-9 for denial of Sembler’s request.
The request for the amendment then went before the city’s Zoning Review Board and Sembler asked for a deferment and received it.
The issue of the CDP amendment was up for a public hearing on Sept. 12 and NPU-B chairperson Sally Silver presented that the NPU board had voted 25-9 for denial of the amendment change for this proposed development. Silver told BuckheadView that the city’s staff also recommended denial.
On Sept. 13, the issue again went before the Design Review Committee, which decided it could take no action, according to Silver, because there was no site plan and no support of the proposal by the NPU or city staff.
The issue is destined to again come before the NPU-B Zoning Committee on Tuesday, Sept. 26, and Silver is sure the committee will vote for denial.
According to Silver, the issue is not necessarily dead in the water, but it certainly has been delayed at this point. She said she has placed a call to the Sembler people to see that they plan to do—proceed along the path they have chosen thus far, or make some changes and come back through the process—but she has not yet heard from them.
In August, Silver was one of the most excited over the prospect of having a grocery store in that area. “That is the big important thing that is going to make Lindbergh work,” she said at the time.

Toddlers Are North Druid Hills’ Fastest-Growing Age Group

By Timothy Darnell for the North Druid Hills / Briarcliff Patch


The number of pre-school-aged children in the  North Druid Hills community grew faster than any other age group, according to a  Patch analysis of 2010 U.S. Census Bureau figures.
The number of children 4 and under in the community jumped 68 percent from 2000 to 2010.
That’s in sharp contrast to overall population numbers in the area that were stagnant over the same time period.
The number of school-age kids in the North Druid Hills area was the fourth-fastest growing age group.
North Druid Hills is a Census Designated Place (CDP), which means the  bureau considers it a distinct area and gathers data for the community  even though it is not an incorporated town.
The North Druid Hills CDP is bordered by I-85 and Clairmont Road in  the northwest and Emory University in the south. The western edge ends at the DeKalb/Fulton  county line.
Population growth in the area is a study in  contradictions. The overall population remains virtually unchanged  over the last decade, growing from 18,852 to 18,947. That’s an  increase of 95 people.
Here are some other findings for the North Druid Hills community:

  • The number of pre-school age children grew from 640 to 1,078.
  • The next-fastest growing age groups were 60-69 (a 39 percent increase) and  50-59 (a 25 percent increase).
  • The number of school-aged children, age 5-18, group grew from 1,301 to 1,628. That’s an increase of 25 percent.
  • The number of people age 19-29 fell 14 percent over the last decade. Their numbers dropped from 6,096 to 5,331.
  • The slowest-growing age groups were 30-39 (with 3.6 percent growth) and 40-49 (3.8 percent growth).

Clifton Corridor Residents Worry About Compensation, Quality of Life

By Eden Landow for Virginia-Highland/Druid Hills Patch
Neighborhood groups involved in planning for a MARTA expansion through the Clifton Corridor say residents are worried they might not be adequately compensated for their property or that the right-of-way would extend virtually to their doorsteps and harm their quality of life.

Planning consultant Heather Alhadeff, who has been hired by Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition Inc. to aid in the communication process, discusses the proposals with LLCC board member Rosalie Townsend, former LLCC president Henry Batten and NPU-F chairwoman and LLCC transportation coordinator Jane Rawlings. Credit Eden Landow

The public got another chance Wednesday night to comment on a proposed $1 billion project to expand MARTA rail through the  Clifton corridor and link Lindbergh Center with Emory, the CDC, Decatur  and Avondale.
The latest configuration proposes heavy rail, including some  underground tracks, from Lindbergh Center to the intersection of  Clairmont and North Decatur roads and then light rail or bus rapid to  the Avondale MARTA station. Three possibilities were detailed among the  presentations up for comment.
Jason Morgan, MARTA

Jason Morgan, regional planner for MARTA and project manager for the Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative, said Wednesday night’s Station Area Planning and Alignment Workshop, held at Torah Day School of Atlanta, concludes the public meetings that will be held during the Alternative Analysis phase of the project development process.
“It’s important that people’s concerns are documented at this stage   so they can be flagged for inclusion in the environmental process and   then we can be ready to mitigate them,” Morgan said.
Three previous formal public-input meetings were held, including this one, two last year and one in May. In addition, several community meetings have been held, including one called by the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition on July 12 that was attended by more than 200 people.
Neighborhood groups involved in the Clifton Corridor transit development process, so far, have included Morningside/Lenox Park Neighbhorhood Association, Lindridge/Martin Manor Neighborhood Association and Woodland Hills Neighborhood Association.
Planners had explored at-grade options including light rail and bus rapid transit and to utilize the CSX right-of-way, but neighborhood concerns, development density and refusal by CSX to share their space, open up the possibility for subterranean tracks.
Rather than blasting, Morgan said, builders would use a tunnel-boring machine.
“We want to avoid the ‘cut-and-cover’ method, which involves a lot of disruption, which is what we’re trying to avoid,” he said.
LLCC and Lenox Park/Morningside have hired consultant Perkins+Will’s Urban Design practice and their senior transportation planner, Heather Alhadeff, to assist them in getting their concerns heard.
“I am here to coordinate, advise and manage the dialogue between MARTA and their partner, CCTMA, and the neighborhoods,” said Aldaheff, “to communicate things in a meaningful, understandable and productive way, in both directions.”
MARTA and CCTMA boards are expected to vote in November on the proposal, which would send the process to the environmental stage, during which historic and ecological studies would be made, as well as impact studies on what effect would be felt by property owners. Once the environmental stage is cleared, the process moves on to preliminary engineering and then the final design stage.
All four stages of the development process must include public input as well as local and federal approval, Morgan said.
On Thursday, the Atlanta Regional Roundtable’s executive committee meets to adopt a list of transit priorities in the Atlanta region, which will be reviewed and approved by the full roundtable before going to voters as part of the statewide referendum in July or November called the Transportation Investment Act.
“We are trying to position the project so that it will qualify for any federal funds that might be available,” Morgan said, “regardless of what happens with TIA.”
This part of MARTA’s planning process began in 2009. Construction is likely to take upwards of 10 years, unless TIA passes, in which case, Morgan said, the process would speed up by a year or even two.
On one side of the room were posters and flipcharts for community comments on MARTA proposals for heavy rail from Lindbergh Center, through the Emory campus to the intersection of North Decatur and Clairmont roads, then bus rapid transit (BRT) or light rail (LRT) along Scott Boulevard and then to the Avondale MARTA station. Linking to the Decatur MARTA station, for the moment, appeared to be off the table.
Also off the table seemed to be utilizing the right-of-way held by CSX railroad, though one of the planners at the meeting speculated that, once funding is identified and the project moves closer to being a reality, that the company might be willing to discuss the possibility.
On the other side of the room were placards describing how the stations might be designed for optimal entrance and access and amenities.
“We’re trying to find the right balance between having stations placed far enough apart that the trains can move faster, yet making sure we have enough stations so that people can get where they need to go,” Morgan said.
Ridership estimates were included on the posters, indicating that in 2030 about 27,000 “boardings,” or the number of people getting on the train at any given station along the way, each would be expected for heavy rail, about 17,000 for light rail and about 11,000 for bus rapid transit.
“None of the expansion projects could be done the way things are structured now,” said MARTA spokesman Lyle Harris. “Federal funds require that operating funds be available. The current ’50-50′ funding structure probably needs to be revisited.”
Also attending the meeting was DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader, who said he did not feel he had a direct role in this portion of the process but that these types of improvements could substantially reduce automobile traffic in his district and the impact of the traffic.
Later, he said, the DeKalb Commission would likely weigh in on land use and development proposals along the corridor.
“I haven’t heard anyone here say that we don’t need transit,” Rader said. “It’s just a matter of how we can get there.”
MARTA also is in the alternatives analysis phase of an expansion plan for an I-20 East Corridor to serve south DeKalb.

Perkins+Will Hired to Provide Technical & Strategic Expertise

By Jane P. Rawlings, LLCC Transportation Coordinator

 

Heather Alhadeff, Senior Transportation Planner

The Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition is pleased to once again engage the services of Perkins+Will’s Urban Design practice and their Senior Transportation Planner, Heather Alhadeff. Ms. Alhadeff is uniquely positioned to offer expert, independent analysis on the current Clifton Corridor proposals. This consulting work will begin immediately, and continue on a contractual basis.
Our Board of Directors has committed the necessary initial funding, while also reaching out to other impacted parties in order to help offset the costs involved. We’re seeking assistance, and would be pleased for you to consider making your own special contribution at this time of $10, $50, or $100.
Donations are 100% tax deductible, and can be made online through our PayPal secure website by clicking here.
Donate Now
Don’t have a PayPal account? Look for this wording on the left side of the donation page, “Use your credit card or bank account,” and click Continue.

Regional transportation tax panel puts off projects vote

Atlanta Business Chronicle – by Dave Williams, Staff Writer

A subcommittee of local elected officials is delaying its decision on which transportation improvements should be funded by a proposed regional sales tax right up to a state-imposed deadline.
The Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable’s executive committee had been expected to vote Thursday on a list of highway and transit projects to be built with $6.14 billion that would be available regionally if voters in the 10-county metro area approve the tax next year.
But the five-member panel is still trying to whittle down a $6.56 billion list of projects unveiled late Wednesday by the Atlanta Regional Commission staff. That’s as far as ARC staff members could get in cutting a project list that started with nearly $23 billion in requests from Atlanta-area cities, counties and transportation agencies.
The list the executive committee is working from includes partial funding for the Atlanta Beltline project and extensions of MARTA rail service along the Clifton Corridor, north to Holcomb Bridge Road in Fulton County and east to Wesley Chapel Road in DeKalb County.
It also incorporates a planned light rail line connecting MARTA’s Arts Center station with the Cumberland Mall area of Cobb County.
But it doesn’t include funds for a commuter rail line linking downtown Atlanta with Griffin, Ga., an omission that drew protests from political and business leaders from the south side of metro Atlanta and from commuter rail advocates.
Of about $3.5 billion in transit projects on the list as proposed, less than 3 percent would go to the area south of Interstate 20, said Gordon Kenna, CEO of Georgians for Passenger Rail.
“We are about to do the biggest thing we’ve ever done as a region, and you are completely ignoring half of the region,” Kay Pippin, president of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce, told the executive committee. “You’re going to have to open the door and let us come in.”
The executive committee will meet on Monday – its deadline under legislation passed by the General Assembly last year – to finalize the project list it will recommend to the full roundtable. The 21-member roundtable then will have until Oct. 15 to submit the projects voters will asked to approve next year.

When it comes to transit funding, the State of Georgia is missing in action

Posted in Maria’s Metro for the SaportaReport

Through all the chatter over what should be included on the Atlanta region’s transportation projects list, a loud vacuum can’t be ignored.
The vacuum? The State of Georgia.
Just what role, if any, will the State of Georgia play in contributing to metro Atlanta’s transit systems? And what role will the State of Georgia play in controlling the future of our region’s transit governance?
Consider this. The one-penny regional transportation sales that will go before voters next year will be raised (and invested) in the 10-county Atlanta region. If passed, this is money that metro Atlantans will contribute and invest in their own region’s future.
But exactly how much will the State of Georgia contribute to building and maintaining the Atlanta region’s transit systems — from MARTA, the Xpress buses, Cobb County Transit, Gwinnett transit, Clayton County’s buses to commuter rail between Atlanta and Griffin?
Unfortunately, the answer so far appears to be more of the status quo — virtually nothing.
The State of Georgia does not appear willing to step up to the plate to sustain and expand metro Atlanta’s transit infrastructure — despite the fact that the Atlanta region is the engine that drives the state’s economy.
For those who ask why should the state contribute to metro Atlanta transit systems, the answer is simple. Metro Atlanta contributes billions of dollars to the state’s coffers through the 4-cent sales tax and the 7.5-cent motor fuel tax.
The state has a vested interest in helping metro Atlanta thrive,  and that means having a healthy regional transit system.
Unfortunately, the agonizing process of developing a $6.1 billion list of transit and road projects has made it painfully obvious that there’s just not enough money to pay for metro Atlanta’s near-term transportation needs.
One key way to bridge the gap between metro Atlanta’s needs and ability to pay for them is for the State of Georgia to become a full partner in supporting the region’s transit systems.
But at the meeting of the executive committee of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable on Aug. 4 when it was prioritizing the possible transit projects, financial participation on the part of the state seemed doubtful at best.
Todd Long, director of planning for the Georgia Department of Transportation (who has been orchestrating much of the formulation of the project lists across the state), told Roundtable members not to expect any support from the state.
Here was the context. Members of the Roundtable had not included $180 million to provide funding to maintain the Xpress buses over the next 10 years as part of its top priorities.
Now remember, the Xpress buses are under the control of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority — a state entity that is completely governed by members appointed by the governor.
“As state planning director, you need to include the Xpress buses,” Long told the Roundtable members. “The state is not going to pick up the cost of Xpress. They will shut down Xpress. They don’t have the money in their budget to keep going.”
An interesting aside, Long — a DOT guy — was standing up for a GRTA expense, but was totally silent on whether money should be included to finance a commuter train between Atlanta and Griffin, as well as its sister project — a Multimodal Passenger Terminal in downtown Atlanta — a DOT project.
In fact, the overwhelming number of public comments at the end of the meeting was in support of the commuter rail project. And the Roundtable already had decided to include the commuter rail line as part of its second tier of transit projects.
Now consider a well-known fact. The largest transit agency in the state — MARTA — receives no regular operating support from the State of Georgia. In fact, MARTA is the largest transit agency in the country (the ninth largest) to receive no operating support from its state government.
As a result, MARTA (the backbone for all the region’s transit systems) has been operating on a starvation budget. It has had to cut back its rail and bus services, and it has had to approve a fare increase that will go into effect later this year.
To add insult to injury, the any money raised with regional transportation sales tax can not go towards supporting existing MARTA operations. Without a doubt, the most cost-effective use of transit dollars would go towards MARTA operations — to increase the frequency of its trains as well as its buses.
Now how egregious is this situation?
According to the most recent statistics (see Table 1-9) on the American Public Transportation Association website, the State of New York invests more than $3 billion a year in its transit systems — an average of $155 per person annually.
Massachusetts invests $1.2 billion in transit, or $181 per capita. California: $2.3 billion or $63 per person.  Pennsylvania: $1.1 billion or $91 per capita. New Jersey: $1 billion or $120 per capita. Maryland: $844 million or $149 per capita.
By comparison, Georgia invests $6 million a year in transit — 63 cents per person. Only three other states invest less per capita than Georgia — Idaho (20 cents); Montana (43 cents); and Wyoming (54 cents). Not one of those three states could be considered urban, transit-oriented places.
And then we hear from Long that the state will not even contribute to the state-run Xpress bus system. With that kind of stance, what are the chances that the state will support commuter rail or MARTA or any other transit agency in the state?
As an aside to our dear state leaders, let this serve as a warning. Regional transit governance is the next big issue on the horizon. If the state wants to take control of our regional transit systems (be it through GRTA or another state authority), it must be prepared to pay a proportional amount of funding to whatever power it will have.
Meanwhile, the vacuum must be filled.
The State of Georgia needs to become a full partner in metro Atlanta’s plans to develop and maintain a first-class regional transit system.

Atlanta Beltline Corridor Public Input Opportunities

Posted by Tracy Gould Sheinin for Virginia Highland/Druid Hills Patch
MARTA and Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) invite the public to share input on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) during public hearings.  The EIS will determine the alignment of transit and trails in the Atlanta BeltLine Corridor and the technology for transit – either Modern Streetcar or Light Rail.  During the hearings, attendees will have the opportunity to talk with project representatives about the environmental study and review plans and graphics.
The public hearings and the official comment period ending on September 17, 2011, will be the final opportunity for the public to provide vital input on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.  During the hearings, the public will be invited to submit written comments about the project.  A court reporter will be on hand to record verbal comments.
The Public Hearings will take place on:
August 16, 2011, 1:00pm – 3:00pm & 6:00pm – 8:00pm at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 634 West Peachtree St. NW (Take MARTA to the North Avenue Station, parking also available).
August 18, 2011, 1:00pm – 3:00pm & 6:00pm – 8:00pm at Hager CTM Building, 19 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd. NW (Take MARTA to the Ashby Rail Station, parking also available).
If you are unable to attend the hearings, you can provide comments by calling 404-524-2070, faxing to 404-848-5132, emailing dwa_beltlinestudy@bellsouth.net or visiting the project websites here and here.

Cousins, Gables Start Construction on $250 Million Emory Point

ATLANTA
(July 19, 2011) – Cousins Properties and Gables Residential have started construction on the $250 million Emory Point mixed-used development on Clifton Road. The development will be the first new retail project built in the trade area in 20 years; the largest private development start inside the Perimeter in more than three years; and the first partnership between Cousins and Gables – two Atlanta-based development companies.
“We’re very excited about Emory Point and are glad to see a development of this magnitude move forward,” said Larry Gellerstedt, Cousins President and CEO.  “This project represents an incredible infill opportunity in a supply constrained
submarket with high demand.  We’re fortunate to have an exceptional partner in Gables and are grateful for our strong relationship with Emory University, which trusted us with leading this opportunity.”
Located in the Clifton Corridor, adjacent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and in close proximity to Emory University and Emory Healthcare, Emory Point is a vertically integrated mixed-use development; Phase I will include more than 80,000 square feet of retail space and 443 luxury apartments.
Under the DeKalb County zoning plan for Emory Point, 25 acres of densely wooded land behind the development, approximately half of the site, will be protected as undevelopable under Emory’s land classification plan.  Prior to the rezoning, those woodlands were not protected. The development site is also registered for EarthCraft Communities certification, while the apartment component is registered for EarthCraft Multifamily certification. In addition, retail portions of the development have been designed to meet EarthCraft standards.
“Emory Point sets the new standard for the Emory community because it blends pedestrian-friendly retail with luxury apartment living, all while being an environmentally conscious development,” said David Fitch, Gables Residential President and CEO. “There is tremendous pent-up housing demand in this neighborhood, making Emory Point a bright spot in an otherwise challenging market.”
The $100+ million Phase I of the project began construction early this month and is expected to be complete by fall 2012. The second and third phases of the project will be developed according to market demand in an area. Emory University, which includes Emory Healthcare, is the largest employer in DeKalb County and the third largest employer in metro Atlanta.
“The proximity of Emory Point to our campus will enhance the social and intellectual vibrancy at Emory by providing housing, dining and retail venues for faculty, staff and students,” said Mike Mandl, Executive Vice President for Finance and
Administration, Emory University. “This type of mixed-use development was envisioned during the creation of the Clifton Community Partnership five years ago, and it is gratifying to see it coming to fruition.”
http://www.emory-point.com/