The Reserve at LaVista Walk is sold to REIT

Behringer Harvard acquires ATL apartments
from the Atlanta Business Chronicle

Behringer Harvard bought Buckhead apartment community The Reserve at LaVista Walk from Atlantic Realty Partners.
The Reserve at LaVista Walk

The Dallas-based company did not report financial terms.
The 283-unit, 4.4-acre development was finished in 2008 and is two miles southeast of Lenox Square Mall.
Behringer Harvard Multifamily REIT I Inc. includes investments in 31 multifamily communities in 12 states with a total of 8,732 apartment units
Read more: Behringer Harvard acquires ATL apartments – Atlanta Business Chronicle

Better Block 2

 Sep 14, 2010  by Jason Roberts

Amid the wonderful smells of smoked barbeque, and just beyond the music, we managed our second “Better Block” project, where we took a gray, concrete, and car-focused block and converted it into a more humane space that placed people first. First off, big thanks go to SWA Group, and Metheney for providing us with amazing landscaping plans and with 42 trees and 100 shrubs which were strategically placed throughout the area.  We started with the 1300 Block of West Davis: 
 
The area is filled with 1920’s – 1940’s structures built to the sidewalk with one exception…a gas station set back that breaks the people-friendly form.  The businesses built in the area received a large portion of their foot traffic from the streetcar which ran along Seventh Street and turned onto Edgefield. Once the streetcar was removed in 1956, the block was retrofitted over time to push people aside for cars. As sprawl developed and zoning laws changed, businesses that could survive in these spaces had a hard time managing Dallas’ post-war transition.  Lanes were widened creating faster traffic patterns, landscaping was uprooted to allow for more parking, and building windows were filled with mirrored glass, making the space unusable for window-shopping, and allowing little light to pass through. Though it took half a century to devolve, we were able to revive the space in under 24 hours: 
 
 David Thompson at SWA Group was instrumental in helping us walk the block and outline a plan of attack. First, we had to bring landscaping back. Dallas is hot, and people want shade…seeing these old buildings tree lined dramatically improved the area.  The middle turn lane, which is only needed at the intersections but runs the entire length of the block, was reclaimed with 100 shrubs that gave an extra layer of safety for families crossing the street. 
 
To make a space feel more humane, and inviting to people, we looked at all of the obstacles facing us. Intersections were the most glaring with little to no cross walks. Here, we recreated our own Abbey Road. 
 
Mid-century lights, which had burned out years ago were painted lively colors and given a second chance at life. When looking at what is necessary to bring people out in a community, perception of safety ranks as the highest priority. Lighting is a key element, and an easy way to revive an area is to begin changing burned-out/broken light bulbs. 
 
An abandoned telephone pole sat waiting for some kind of treatment. We decided to do our own version of the Nasher pole in downtown Dallas. 
 
As the morning unfolded, two construction vehicles went to work lining the street with 42 trees that were set to be installed at another client site the following week. The landscaping group, Metheney, pulled off a coup by letting us install them on our block before they were set to be planted. As we watched each of the trees roll out of the semi-trailer, you could feel the block coming back to life. 
 
We worked with local vendors and asked them to bring their merchandise outdoors and to the block to help draw life and activity to the street.  This tienda had just opened a few weeks prior, but the owner said business had been slow…at the end of Better Block he said, “We needed this!”.  
 
On the North East corner of the 1300 Block sat a glass building that had been covered in mirrored tint, and was vacant for over a year. We immediately removed the tint to open the space and allow window shopping and light to permeate the space. This light adds to the perception of safety in the area at night as well. We worked with local artists to bring out as many products highlighting the talented crafters of OC. 
 
(photo by Karla Garcia) 
At the gateway to the Better Block, we coordinated with one of our favorite muralists, Kevin Obregon, to help bring color to the bare white walls of Chango Botanica, and to allow the theme of the store to be highlighted outside of the building.  Our area botanicas bring a mixture of spirituality, culture, and folk art that help identify Oak Cliff. 
  
The most simple, but important element to the Better Block project was just giving people a comfortable, shaded place to sit and linger. In Copenhagen, the city measures its quality of life improvements by the number of outdoor cafe seats that open up each year. Not a bad metric for Oak Cliff to follow. 24 hours prior, there were cars filling this area. The small ice cream shop, which only has two parking spaces, now wants to create seating instead. 
 
The landscaping performed the same element of slowing traffic as with our first Better Block. A main street should be slow and feel safe so that people can see the businesses clearly, and stroll comfortably along the block. When the lanes were widened and cars sped through the area, people felt less inclined to walk with strollers along the sidewalk. Cars that entered the area respected the new lines and commerce was able to increase. 
 
When I was beginning to study urban planning, mentors would regularly tell me, “It all starts with the street…if you get that wrong, everything else breaks.” I didn’t understand that early on,  but as I’ve helped organize these projects, it’s become incredibly notable. Simply put, if you build a wide 6-lane road, you’re going to get a big box styled development with high speed roads and little pedestrian foot traffic. If you build 2 lanes, slow and landscaped, with wide sidewalks and any other multimodal transit options (bike lanes, streetcars, etc.), you’ll get small shops and places that people love to spend time in. 
 
The Dallas Morning News wrote about our city’s pending Bike Plan, and ironically, one of the blog commenters cited the weekend as an example of how it’s “too hot and humid in our city for people to take bicycling seriously”…apparantly Oak Cliff didn’t get that memo. The reality is that all communities face challenges with climate. In Portland it rains 1/3 of the year, in Copenhagen it’s freezing cold 1/3 of the year. Creating safer ways for people to walk and bicycle in an area creates more eyes on the street and adds to an areas feeling of safety as well as creating more life in a community. 
 
In the end, it’s all about the people and giving families young and old a safe, comfortable, and dignified area to live in. When we build for cars only, we make things fast, unsafe, and less humane…we adopted an 8 and 80 rule, where we should look at our community from the eyes of an 8 year old and the eyes of an 80 year old. If it feels safe for those two age ranges, it will be safe for everyone. Our city needs to refocus its priorities and think about what it is that people really want in a community. For the price of a single Calatrava bridge, we could have built a thousand Better Blocks…and made them permanent. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

About the author

Jason has lived in Oak Cliff for 10 years, and when not playing guitar in the Happy Bullets, can be found bicycling throughout the neighborhood searching for old trolley tracks.

Varsity Jr. Closes

Jane Rawlings, President
Lindridge Martin Manor Neighborhood Association
 

Jane Rawlings, LMMNA President

As most of you are probably aware Varsity Jr. has closed its location on Lindbergh Drive. Much rumor and speculation exists surrounding this development and I want to present the facts. 
As background, beginning in 1999 the Cheshire Bridge Task Force was formed to examine ways to improve the corridor.  From this effort a study was completed, and, ultimately, the corridor was rezoned. While the details of the zoning are complex, the overall net desire and effect of this rezoning was to create a more pedestrian friendly environment. Many area neighborhood associations, businesses, and residents participated on this Task Force including but not limited to LMMNA and Varsity Jr. 
Fast forward 11 years when Varsity Jr. submitted an application for a Special Administrative Permit or SAP with the City of Atlanta Planning Department on February 8, 2010. As is required the Planning Department reviewed the application and plans and documented its comments. The city pointed out aspects of the plan that were inconsistent with the zoning regulations for the parcel. The Varsity Jr. property was “grandfathered” i.e. was granted legal non-conforming status when the Cheshire Bridge Corridor was rezoned as a result of the efforts of the Cheshire Bridge Task Force. Given the scope of the renovations planned (> 60%) the new regulations would have gone into effect. You can visit the city’s website for an overview of the zoning regulations for MRC-2-C. 
The applicant was advised by planning of their options to seek a Special Exception to the code. For whatever reason the applicant chose not to pursue such. Had they done so, they would have then been required to appear before the LMMNA to present their plans. LMMNA would then have made a recommendation to NPU-F as to whether or not to support the applicant’s Special Exception. NPU-F would have then made a recommendation to the BZA and, ultimately, the BZA would have decided whether or not a Special Exception was advised. 
At no time did LMMNA take any official position on this application as it never came before us, since the applicant chose to neither amend the plan, nor file for a Special Exception to the zoning regulations. 
Moving forward. . .obviously many within the community are saddened by the loss of this business. I ask, however, that area residents learn a very important lesson from this experience. First, when future applications come before us (and they will) I would recommend that folks make decisions based on the merits of the plan and not their emotional attachment to the applicant. Remember, zoning changes stick with the PROPERTY not the applicant. Properties continuously change owners so one cannot rely on the good will of an owner to act in the future best interest of the neighborhood. Instead, neighborhoods must seek zoning regulations that are in the best interest of their neighborhoods and then work to see that the City upholds them. To the best of our ability LMMNA needs to consistently and fairly apply the law. We expect the city to do the same. If, in the future, Varsity Jr. decides to re-file or seek a Special Exception, then LMMNA will have an opportunity to weigh in on the merits of granting such.  

As most of you are probably aware Varsity Jr. has closed its location on Lindbergh Drive. Much rumor and speculation exists surrounding this development and I want to present the facts. 

As background, beginning in 1999 the Cheshire Bridge Task Force was formed to examine ways to improve the corridor.  From this effort a study was completed, and, ultimately, the corridor was rezoned. While the details of the zoning are complex, the overall net desire and effect of this rezoning was to create a more pedestrian friendly environment. Many area neighborhood associations, businesses, and residents participated on this Task Force including but not limited to LMMNA and Varsity Jr. 

Fast forward 11 years when Varsity Jr. submitted an application for a Special Administrative Permit or SAP with the City of Atlanta Planning Department on February 8, 2010. As is required the Planning Department reviewed the application and plans and documented its comments. The city pointed out aspects of the plan that were inconsistent with the zoning regulations for the parcel. The Varsity Jr. property was “grandfathered” i.e. was granted legal non-conforming status when the Cheshire Bridge Corridor was rezoned as a result of the efforts of the Cheshire Bridge Task Force. Given the scope of the renovations planned (> 60%) the new regulations would have gone into effect. You can visit the city’s website for an overview of the zoning regulations for MRC-2-C.  

The applicant was advised by planning of their options to seek a Special Exception to the code. For whatever reason the applicant chose not to pursue such. Had they done so, they would have then been required to appear before the LMMNA to present their plans. LMMNA would then have made a recommendation to NPU-F as to whether or not to support the applicant’s Special Exception. NPU-F would have then made a recommendation to the BZA and, ultimately, the BZA would have decided whether or not a Special Exception was advised.  

At no time did LMMNA take any official position on this application as it never came before us, since the applicant chose to neither amend the plan, nor file for a Special Exception to the zoning regulations.  

Moving forward. . .obviously many within the community are saddened by the loss of this business. I ask, however, that area residents learn a very important lesson from this experience. First, when future applications come before us (and they will) I would recommend that folks make decisions based on the merits of the plan and not their emotional attachment to the applicant. Remember, zoning changes stick with the PROPERTY not the applicant. Properties continuously change owners so one cannot rely on the good will of an owner to act in the future best interest of the neighborhood. Instead, neighborhoods must seek zoning regulations that are in the best interest of their neighborhoods and then work to see that the City upholds them. To the best of our ability LMMNA needs to consistently and fairly apply the law. We expect the city to do the same. If, in the future, Varsity Jr. decides to re-file or seek a Special Exception, then LMMNA will have an opportunity to weigh in on the merits of granting such.

2010 Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge Road

 

 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Yuki Takahara
Fax: 404-874-7897

Phone: 678.777.7833

E-mail: yuki@tourofcheshirebridge.com
Website: www.tourofcheshirebridge.com
TASTE & TOUR OF CHESHIRE BRIDGE 2010
A Weekend of Sensory Exploration on Atlanta’s Quirkiest Little Road
The upscale, family-friendly businesses of Cheshire Bridge Road are working together to bring you the 2nd annual Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge. Some of Atlanta’s top restaurants will offer tastings while other retail stores will offer raffles and discounts. Ticket sales from this year’s event will benefit the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition or LLCC and the Blueprints plan to beautify the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor area.
Atlanta, GA, September 11-12 – The Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge will operate Saturday September 11 and Sunday September 12. Tastings, tours, will be offered from 12 noon to 5 PM with a gathering after 5 PM at Cheshire Pointe with local musicians, artist and information booths on civic associations, nature conservancies, park services and public service groups. Recommended lots for parking are on Liddell Drive, Faulkner Road, and 1893 Piedmont Road (back parking lot of Nakato Japanese Restaurant). Trolley service will be available with a history tour of the colorful street. Tickets will be sold online at www.lindberghlavista.org and participating store locations. Ticket prices are $20 each for the entire weekend. Many of the Cheshire Bridge businesses will be offering different samples, tastings, and giveaways for each day of the event.
Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition, a non-profit organization for promoting the safety and progress of the business nodes along the corridor as well as creating a blueprint for sustainable and progressive neighborhood planning. 
Many of the participating businesses have called Cheshire Bridge Road their home for decades while others have recently joined the eclectic Cheshire Bridge mix. Participating businesses include but are not limited to Alfredo’s, Antiques and Beyond, Bamboo Luau, Java Blues, The Colonnade, Costumes Etc., Flora Dora, Las Margaritas, Nakato Japanese Restaurant, Nino’s, Taco Cabana, Habersham Gardens, Johnny’s Pizza, Return to Eden, Roxx Tavern, Rusto’s Pizza, Ursula’s Cooking School, Sheik’s Burritos n’ Kabobs, Woodfire Grill and Rhodes Bakery. 
If you would like more information on this event, the participants, or if you would like to schedule an interview with any of the participants, please e-mail yuki@tourofcheshirebridge.com.
Visit www.lindberghlavista.org for more information on the community blueprint.

Survey Shows Region’s Economy Depends on Transit

ARC recently conducted a survey of 50,000 transit riders from around the region (10 percent of total ridership), and learned that the current system of bus and rail is helping to keep support metro Atlanta’s economy, while preparing the workforce of the future. The survey showed that:

  • 45 percent of trips are between home and work
  • 73 percent of these could drive to work, but choose to ride transit
  • More than 40,000 school-related trips are made each day
  • 64 percent of those riding to work have limited or no access to a car
  • 31 percent of riders are students
  • 10 percent of riders have incomes higher than $75,000

The Voyager on Peachtree Creek

David R. Kaufman’s journey down Atlanta’s forgotten waterway
This report was prepared by Ken Edelstein, with assistance from Joeff Davis, Samantha Simon and Tammy Vinson. Online production by Alejandro Leal.
John Wesley Powell had the Colorado. Lewis and Clark explored the Missouri. For Henry Morton Stanley, it was the Nile.
David R. Kaufman set his sights a bit more modestly. Since he moved to Atlanta as a kid in 1971, Kaufman wanted to uncover the mysteries of Peachtree Creek, a neglected stream that drains the northern half of Atlanta.
Now he’s completed his voyage of discovery. Throughout the 1990s – sometimes with a friend, most often alone – Kaufman descended the North and South forks of Peachtree Creek, as well as some of its tributaries.
What he found by canoe and on foot, and what he recorded with a 4-by-5 camera, was a stream whose rich history and natural beauty has largely been pushed aside by roads, buildings, garbage, pollution – by a city that turned its back on what could be a magnificent resource. Yet remnants of that history and beauty remain. 
Kaufman shares his journey in a book, Peachtree Creek: A Natural and Unnatural History of Atlanta’s Watershed (University of Georgia Press, 2007).
Here are some photos and excerpts. 
Next

Transportation is a public health issue

Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama established Let’s Move, a program with the ambitious and important goal of ending childhood obesity within a generation. And yesterday, a conference called “Keeping Kids Moving” examined the ways transportation policy can help America achieve that goal.
The sad truth is this: today, 32% of children in the US are overweight or obese. That means one in every three of our nation’s children are at risk for serious health conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and stroke.
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That’s why Dwayne Proctor, Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Childhood Obesity Team, sounded the alarm in his opening remarks: “This could be the first generation in America to live sicker and die younger than their parents.”
America is beginning to understand that childhood obesity is a national problem. And we need to look for solutions wherever we can find them.
At DOT, we know transportation can be part of the solution, because the way people travel shapes our communities and affects our levels of physical activity. We recognize that transportation is a public health issue.
Undersecretary Roy Kienitz
Yesterday, DOT Undersecretary Roy Kienitz talked about how transportation decisions that value things like “vehicle throughput” instead of pedestrian safety affect America’s communities. And about how transit decisions that emphasize “minutes-saved” pit outlying suburban commuters against their inner-lying urban neighbors. Recognizing that those policies have had an effect on public health, he said, “Transportation is about more than engineering.”
But, as Undersecretary Kienitz told yesterday’s meeting, DOT has taken steps to fix the formula and find a different approach.

Through our work with HUD and EPA in the Obama Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities, through our TIGER discretionary grants, and through a range of other programs like Safe Routes to School, we’re funding the kinds of projects that will help develop livable communities and provide opportunities for people to walk, bike, or take transit.
Everywhere I go, I hear from Americans that this is what they want. In fact, walking and biking have increased by 25% in the last ten years.
Undersecretary Roy Kienitz
People want options. They want to be able to be more physically active on streets that are friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists. And when adults model physical activity, our kids see it, and they get it.
But the link between transportation and obesity doesn’t end there.
Also at yesterday’s meeting, Nashville’s Adetokunbo Omishakin talked about the more than 6,000 households in Nashville who don’t own a car and are not within a mile of a grocery store. At certain times a bus trip to a grocery store could take three hours round-trip. So residents buy food for their families at convenience stores or small groceries whose shelves can’t offer the healthy options of larger stores.
Paratransit
You see, it’s not just about improving sidewalks or bike paths. The assumption of the last half of the 20th century was that people would own cars. And because that isn’t true, people have been forced to make choices that contribute to the obesity trend.
That’s why, for example, our recent Urban Circulator and Bus Livability grants have been received so warmly.
This is about connecting communities. It’s about solving real problems. This is the kind of practical change the Obama Administration is delivering.

Some cities want fewer roadways, not more


Wider roads and new freeways and highways are a big part of the President Obama's stimulus plan, except many urban areas want to tear down highways and freeways, not build them.

: RYSSDALKAI  
Vice President Joe Biden took the wraps off the administration’s most recent report card on the economic stimulus package today. The White House says — and this number is probably subject to political interpretation — that it has created roughly three million jobs in the past year or so. A lot of that work is being done on infrastructure, building and fixing bridges and highways. Dozens of cities around the country have just the opposite in mind though. They want to tear down parts of some freeways. 
From WNYC in New York City, Andrea Bernstein reports. 
: BERNSTEIN ANDREA 
Near the lower tip of Manhattan, Michael Sorkin is standing just yards from the East River and Brooklyn Bridge, but you can barely see them. So he looks up. 
MICHAEL SORKIN:  
We see traffic that is in at least three different levels. There’s the FDR Drive. There’s an interchange to get people onto the Brooklyn Bridge that’s flying over the FDR Drive, and then flying over that is the Brooklyn Bridge. 
Sorkin is an architect and head of urban design at City College of New York. He’s drawn up a different blueprint for this patch of Manhattan. Tear down a section of the elevated highway, the on-ramps and cloverleafs. 
SORKIN:  
You would see one of the most beautiful architectural achievements in the history of consciousness, the Brooklyn Bridge. 
There would be parks, plazas, restaurants. 
SORKIN:  
You would see boats cruising by. 
Sorkin drew up these designs as part of an international exhibition by the group Institute for Transportation Development Policy. As crazy as it sounds, the idea of tearing down highways in dense urban areas is ricocheting around the country. 
Cleveland is planning to convert a lake-front expressway to a boulevard by 2012, and Seattle is moving to tear down adouble deck highway by that same year. 
CARMEN GAND:  
I think it’s ridiculous. 
Back in New York, teacher Carmen Gand was walking her dogs near the FDR Drive. Her reaction to a proposed teardown is typical. 
GAND:  
People are going to drive into Manhattan regardless, so why not make as many roads or possibilities to get into Manhattan as possible? 
It turns out that New York actually tore down an elevated highway in the 1970s. Sam Schwartz was the chief engineer for the NYC Department of Transportation then. 
SAM SCHWARTZ:  
And people panicked. They thought that was Armageddon. 
The highway had begun to crumble, so the city dismantled 60 blocks and replaced it with a regular street. 
SCHWARTZ:  
After that, we had trouble tracing about one-third of the people. Transit went up. We had the same number of people coming in, but they weren’t coming in by cars. 
San Francisco also lost freeways in the 1989 earthquake. Some years later, the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a story about it. The headline: “Traffic Planners Baffled by Success: No Central Freeway, No Gridlock, and No Explanation.” Engineers found that traffic volume had dropped from 93,000 cars a day to 45,000. But what happens in city where there isn’t a lot of public transit? 
JOHN NORQUIST:  
“You want to do what? Tear down a freeway?” Oh, they thought I was nuts. 
John Norquist was mayor of Milwaukee from 1988 to 2004. He wanted to take down the Park East Freeway, which ran through downtown. 
NORQUIST:  
A lot of people realized it was ugly and all that, but they said what would you do with the 40,000 cars a day that use it? 
Norquist is now the president of the Congress for the New Urbanism, a group that promotes denser communities. He says in 2002, when he tore down the highway, downtown congestion didn’t jump. Instead, it dispersed all around city streets and business activity in the area went up. 
NORQUIST:  
I’d don’t there’d be many people who say, “Milwaukee was a great place till that freeway got torn down.” 
Skeptics remain, like Robert “Buzz” Paaswell. He says goods and services must be able to move through cities. 
ROBERT “BUZZ” PAASWELL:  
You just can’t take out a link in a highway and expect nothing to happen. 
Paaswell is an engineer who’s interim president of City College of New York. He says without city highways, some people will find it harder to get around. New York officials haven’t endorsed any plans to dismantle the southern tip of the FDR Drive. But around the country, mayors and governors are eying urban highway teardowns as the road to development, not congestion. 
In New York, I’m Andrea Bernstein, for Marketplace. 
KAI RYSSDAL:  
The report is part of the public radio Transportation Nation project. For photos and links to some of the traffic studies, go to Marketplace.org. 
 

Creating crosswalks that protect pedestrians

 

Maria Saporta
Crosswalks. Some would rather watch paint dry than talk about crosswalks.
But well-designed crosswalks can make all the difference in the world when it comes to developing a city that welcomes pedestrians.
Atlanta’s crosswalks — or lack there of — is one of my pet peeves. There’s probably no better barometer about how pedestrian-friendly a city is than the way it designs and maintains its crosswalks.
Friends of mine roll their eyes when I start talking about the beauty of painted piano keys that safely outline the space reserved for those walking from one side of the street to the other.
Those wide white-painted stripes command respect for pedestrians and clearly communicate to cars their boundaries.
To reinforce the message, some cities change the pavement
Read more…

Atlanta leaders hope streetcar proposal will win in second round of U.S. TIGER grants

Maria Saporta

Maybe the second time will be the charm.
The City of Atlanta hopes the federal government will give its streetcar plan a green light during the second round of TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grants.
City leaders are presenting their revised streetcar proposal to the Atlanta City Council this week and need the full council’s approval before July 16 when pre-applications are to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Atlanta and Georgia did not fare well during the first round of TIGER grants — when $1.5 billion were distributed to transportation projects across the nation. In the first round, the federal government was offering 100 percent of the funding.
This round is not quite as generous. Only $600 million will be
Read more…