Welcome to the first draft of the Westside Future Fund’s Land-Use Action Plan for the neighborhoods around the new Mims Park, as well as for development and new infrastructure on the Boone Corridor. 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 six months. These are the initial drafts for the first 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. Please look over our 12 designated sites with recommendations for 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.
Site 1 Neighborhood Gateway
The first recommendation is to mark the gateway entering the Westside with a monument at the corner of Northside Drive and Joseph E. Boone Blvd. It could be similar to downtown Atlanta’s “Phoenix Rising,” or it could be a golden falcon on a 100 foot tower. “You could see it from a great distance and realize that this neighborhood is here,” Architect & Urbanist Dhiru Thadani said. “Many people who have lived in Atlanta have never been to the Westside. It’s an opportune moment to place something significant there.”
Site 2 Mims Park
The second recommendation is designing housing and retail that would surround Mims Park (the park’s design is being handled by The Trust for Public Land and the city). The second map below shows proposed buildings in red with an ongoing effort to save existing buildings (marked in black). The mix of new buildings include apartments, mixed-use and what is called “flex” buildings that can be converted from residential to business as the area changes. The last two photos show mixed-use renderings dropped into an aerial shot of the area.
Site 3 MARTA Station Enhancement
Improving the Vine City MARTA station and connecting it to Mims Park with a green corridor is the third recommendation. “We need to make a safe route to get to the MARTA station,” Thadani said. “So that means improving the sidewalks, having street lights, having street trees – and also providing for bicycles.” We’ll be getting into more details at the upcoming Vine City workshops.
Site 4 Mixed-Use Block
The fourth recommendation looks at property across from the MARTA that would include a hotel, office building and a diagonal courtyard. “So you enter into a plaza and you go through two buildings down some steps because of the topography to a residential building in the Northwest,” Thadani described. The new diagonal pedestrian way connects from Marta station to Magnolia Street. The existing super block is divided into two pedestrian scaled blocks extending Maple Street to Rhodes Street. The new Maple Street is widened with a green median. This new east block is a vibrant, mixed-use development. A cobbled court opposite MARTA welcomes pedestrians and allows vehicular drop off to hotel, office and retail. Parking is entered at the low spot of the site and contains two more upper levels, requiring minimal excavation. The new Westside block is residential and creates a greenway into the low lying half of the site. The block would also include a water feature that could act as a retention pond.
Site 5 Walnut Street Connection to Mims Park
Walnut Street needs infrastructure improvements and a new streetscape, as well as being updated to meet ADA requirements with ramps cut into the curbs. The goal is to make Walnut St. a safer route to and from the MARTA station with more density and promoting alternative forms of transportation such as walking and biking. These are before and after drawings of what it could be.
Site 6 Sunset Avenue (single family character)
One of the most historic spots is Sunset Avenue, and the Land-Use Action Plan team feels it should retain its single family form as well as preserve and protect many of it’s more famous historical homes to become a proud addition to the African American heritage trail. “We want to make sure all the buildings look like houses, even though you might have a house with two or three units.”
Site 7 Mixed-Use Building
The seventh recommendation moves up Sunset to the corner on Boone. Thadani said he met with the landowner to suggest what could be there. One idea is an L-shaped building with spectacular views of Mims Park. “These are just some sketches,” he said. “We don’t want to overcomplicate the architecture in this phase.” A corner tower feature identifies the gateway to new Mims Park. A sidewalk café faces the park. There are balconies and premium views to park for residents. The building is set back on Elm and Boone to allow on street parking and gracious sidewalks. A new alley connects Elm and Sunset and provides access to service, loading and lower level parking.
Site 8 Flex-Space Townhouses
New townhouses establish a new mixed-use character fronting on Mims Park while preserving Thessalonian Baptist Church. They’ll provide smaller affordable flex / retail ideal for “Mom & Pops” and start-up businesses. It’s a unique approach to eventually bring retail across from Mims Park. “What our proposition is to allow what we call a zero lot line house which means you can build your house all the way to your property line,” he said. “It’s essentially a townhouse that we call “flex” because the lower floor can be residential in the first phase of its life and, as retail demand increases, you can convert this into commercial.”A smaller, scalable module allows flexibility in land assemblage and development. The building setback along Joseph E. Boone allows on street parking and gracious sidewalks.
Site 9 Mixed-Income Housing
A new Housing Authority building on Spencer gives residents premium views of the park with balconies. The ninth recommendation looks at some suggestions for a focal or signature building at the southern end of Mims Park. A central entry tower aligns with Mims Park. Cosmopolitan AME Church will be preserved. A building setback allows Elm Street to be widened.
Site 10 Peace Lake Housing
On the recommendations of the Proctor North Ave. Study, a “bowl” at the lowest, flood prone area of the neighborhood creates a water amenity for catchment and retention. It’s one of the most ambitious projects proposed by the Land-Use Action Team. “We’ve been completely hammered this week with the situation about the water and flooding,” Thadani said. “And we listened.” Below are different scenarios in housing types around what he proposed calling Peace Lake.
Site 11 Boone & Lowery (100% Corner)
Turning the four corners of the intersection at Lowery and Boone into a 100% corner is Thadani’s 11th recommendation. “There are hardly any buildings on the corner,” he said. “So let’s build them up to all four corners and create a little town center that’s dedicated to local businesses.” He also suggested making more pedestrian and bicycle connections through the area. “These blocks are relatively large and long, so the idea is to make pedestrian ‘come throughs’ where there are vacancies now so we can split up those blocks and make them more manageable.”
Site 12 Ecological Center & Bike/Ped Trails
The final recommendation is building an ecological park that links a series of greenspaces and brings more water features to the Westside – an idea proposed in the PNA study (Proctor Creek- North Avenue Watershed Subbasin). “We’re not reinventing the wheel here,” he said “We’re just looking at what’s already been proposed – and reinforcing and creating a priority list of what might work and what might not work. But the issue of water is truly important and has to be resolved, if development is going to occur.”