Welcome to the first DRAFT of the Westside Future Fund’s Land-Use Action Plan for the Atlanta University Center and its surrounding neighborhoods. After months of research and review, and an intensive week of stakeholder and public meetings – we’re presenting a list of recommendations and concepts for your review. We’ll be continually updating the site with more information and input over the next few months. These are the initial drafts for the last of five target areas on Atlanta’s Westside that will be combined to create a comprehensive Land-Use Action Plan in partnership with the City of Atlanta’s Department of Planning and Community Development. Please look over our list of actionable projects (many already in the works) and give us your feedback in the comments section at the bottom of this page. We’ll be taking input throughout the process on all our target areas as we create a land-use action plan that you and the city of Atlanta can be proud of.
1. Building Inventory
To find the building types that are appropriate for the AUC, the Land-Use Action Team documented the existing structures and architecture in the neighborhoods. “We started by looking at the historic buildings – the fabric of these neighborhoods,” said Team Leader Dhiru Thadani. “We want to make sure that we retain the character of place and that anything we bring fits in with the neighborhood.”
Inventory of the AUC community includes 350 existing buildings with only 46 that the team suggested be demolished. Thirty-two more structures need renovation. New construction is already underway in the area – projects by Friendship Baptist Church, Atlanta Housing Authority, Clark Atlanta and Spelman total 86 proposed buildings. The Team tweaked and built upon those plans to suggest adding 172 more buildings to the AUC that would be aligned with the neighborhood’s original street grid and improve its connectivity. “The goal is to build many more buildings in this area without tearing down existing structures.”
2. Street Grid
As it did with the previous four Land-Use Action Plans, the team mapped out the major arteries through the AUC that included the East/West corridors of MLK, Jr. and I-20 and the North/Side corridors of Northside Dr., Lowery (and the future BeltLine). The next step was to identify the primary interior streets that offered another option for entering and exiting the AUC. “We feel that a main connecting street through the AUC center is Fair St (which is Atlanta Student Movement Blvd when it cuts through the AUC campuses),” said Thadani. “That’s a street that needs to be enhanced and improved.” One of those suggested improvements is linking it to the BeltLine. “It really should become a spot to access the BeltLine to take advantage of that incredible investment.” James P Brawley Drive was identified as the primary North/South connection that feeds into Lee St. to better connect the AUC with the West End MARTA station. The suggested next phase of improvements would target secondary streets such as Westview Dr., Walnut St. and Beckwith St.
3. Castleberry Hill
A big focus of the AUC Land-Use Action Plan was on Fair St. from the BeltLine to Castleberry Hills. A vacant lot at the corner of Fair and Peters St. could be transformed into additional retail and residences. “We can do a three story mixed-use there – based on the relationship with other buildings, nothing that is overly large.” said Thadani.
4. Fair Street
One of the Land-Use Action Teams most ambitious proposals would require a collaboration from all of the AUC schools to create a central point for their students at the southern termination of Brawley (which is Chestnut St. through AUC) and Greensferry Ave. “We have a lot of capacity to build some buildings there and actually make a center,” said Thadani. “It could be recreational and sports facilities. It could be a bookstore – it could be a variety of things.”
6. ITC Campus
Another proposed project includes a mixed-use buildings for the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC). The plans for ITC would include two buildings fronting MLK, Jr. with 150 residential units, 12,000 square feet of commercial space and 75 parking spaces.
7. West Mitchell CME
Just east of the ITC, the West Mitchell Street CME Church could have similar mixed-use building with 150 residential units, 12,000 square feet for a multi-use chapel and 210 parking spaces.
8. MLK Jr Drive
The Land-Use Action Team also proposes some big changes for where Mitchell St. curves into MLK Jr. at Vine St. Thadani suggests creating a roundabout that serves as an entrance to the AUC – and making MLK from there to Northside Drive into a plaza that could be an event space on game days.
9. Innovation District
Thadani suggested that any of the new buildings in the Innovation District should have flexible, generic interiors that can easily be adapted for different uses over the years.