Welcome to the first DRAFT of the Westside Future Fund’s Land-Use Action Plan for Booker T Washington, Ashview Heights, Washington Park and Just Us. 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 three months. These are the initial drafts for the fourth 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.
To find the building types that are appropriate for Booker T Washington, Ashview Heights, Washington Park and Just Us, the Land-Use Action Team documented the existing buildings and architecture in the neighborhoods. “What we try to do is to develop codes and guidelines to emulate the best examples that are already existing in the neighborhood,” said Team Leader Dhiru Thadani.
These four communities benefit from higher homeownership compared to English Avenue and Vine City. Ashview Heights homeownership is 53 percent with 1,452 residents that are an average age of 44. Washington Park has 1,117 residents with 46 percent homeownership and median age of 35. And Just Us has 462 residents with 40 percent homeownership and median age of 39.
2. Building Inventory
There are nearly 1,300 structures in the four neighborhoods that are mostly in good shape. Only 28 structures are targeted for demolition. “That’s a very small amount in comparison to some of the other neighborhoods,” Thadani said. “What we’ve identified are 215 buildings that need to be preserved or renovated. They’re worth saving, but they need some investment.” The last map shows in red locations for 42 new buildings.
3. Street Strategy
The next series of Land-Use Action maps lay out the communities’ primary (in white) and secondary routes (yellow and red), and how they could be improved to create easier access to the neighborhood’s parks and institutions such as the Washington and M. Agnes Jones schools, and the Dean Rusk YMCA Head Start Academy. Some of the recommendations to improve the area’s East/West connectivity are to expand Lena Street across the new Beltline to eventually accommodate cars. And to fill in the gaps on Fair Street. Another map shows Westview Drive that’s been improved with bike lanes, but is blocked off to the public when it reaches Morehouse College. As far as North/South routes, they are limited – with Lowery as the main corridor, and Brawley & Burbank as secondary roads (and the Beltline to provide North/South access in the future). The last map in the series is an overlay of the street grid showing where to give priority for infrastructure improvements.
4. Pedestrian/Bike Lanes
Improving the neighborhoods’ connectivity includes more and better bicycle and pedestrian access that builds on what’s already in the community. The Land Use Action Team proposes improving the streetscape with better sidewalks and lighting on Ashby Street to Rock Street, Magnolia Drive and Peeples Street.
The Land-Use Action Team identified three residential building types that would be appropriate for the neighborhood; single-family, row housing and mixed-use apartments. Below are examples of each type, the last being a mixed-use building for Ft. Worth’s Sundance Square designed by David Schwarz Architects. “If there is going to be any density in these neighborhoods, it’s going to be along Lowery,” said Thadani.
Because of changing demographics, there needs to be more than just a push for the traditional, single-family homes. “A real minority today is a mother and father with two children,” Thadani said. “Only 27 percent of America is that way. About 60 percent are single or two person households – so for many, building just single-family housing is building ‘too much house.’” Below is an example of how a smaller, infill house can seamlessly fit within the architectural fabric of the Westside. The next is a series of illustrations of creative ways to provide architecturally appropriate homes for smaller households that range from 530 square feet to 2,325 square feet.
The next drawing shows the transformation of boarded up homes in the neighborhood. “There is really some wonderful building stock in all these neighborhoods on the Westside,” he said. “With some love and care, they can be vital again.” Not only the buildings need to be improved, but the streetscape as well with sidewalks, lampposts and trees. “That’s really the role of the city to spur this development on.”
The next series of maps moves down the Lowery Boulevard corridor showing recommendations of how the area’s major intersections could be improved. Where Boone crosses Lowery, it could become a small commercial center for local businesses.
The next intersection focuses around the Ashby MARTA station with the addition of a new park to replace an old gas station that would commemorate Heman Perry, founder of the Standard Life Insurance Company of Atlanta and neighborhood developer.
The draft plan for Martin Luther King Jr. Drive would restore the old Ashby Theater to be sandwiched in between new commercial space that compliments the architecture of the historic theater.
At the Fair Street intersection, the Team suggests a new traffic design to make it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians.
And the last intersection on Lowery that the Land-Use Action Team focused on was where it crosses Westview and enters into Morehouse College. The plans show a draft of the new Hank Aaron stadium which hasn’t been designed yet, but fits perfectly where the team positioned it. Other new buildings added to the draft plan include a mixed-use apartment building across from Morehouse College’s Ray Charles Performing Arts Center and Music Academic Building. “This could be commercial space for the university,” he said. “Get some more movement and interaction with AUC.”
The final intersection that the locals call the “crossroads” was Lawton Street and Westview Drive where Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture just held its grand reopening after moving from the Old 4th Ward. One of the suggestions is to take over what’s now housing a liquor store and convert it into a community gathering spot with a bike shop, health food store and farm-to-table restaurant. “You can have apartments on one side,” said Thadani. “We think we could have four townhouses and mixed-use. Lots of wonderful things could happen, that could become the real center of Ashview Heights.” Other design features include shaded gazebos with checkboard tables – that could easily be converted into a farmers market for Truly Living Well’s gardens.