I have been talking about this since before I started blogging, and Atlanta may finally be figuring it out. The expanse of paved parking lots that run from the Capitol down to Turner Field may finally be something more than just parking lots -- parking lots that isolate Turner Field and make it feel as though it's on an island, even though it's in the middle of a city.
Creative Loafing has the details:
Atlanta's economic development agency tomorrow will ask developers how they'd transform the massive parking lot across the street from Turner Field into a "sports and entertainment district" that would include greenspace, retail, and residential developments.
I first wrote about the problem of Turner Field's isolation back in 2005, on my old blog (which many of you probably don't know about). Here is what I wrote back then, back when the Braves were for sale and I was arguing for an owner who would drive the transformation of the Turner Field neighborhood:
We need an owner who can turn baseball in Atlanta into something other than a commuter sport. Something more than a stadium planted in the middle of parking lots. Atlanta is not only ready, but Atlanta needs the neighborhood stadium.
I’m not talking about building a new stadium in some yet-to-be-determined neighborhood of Atlanta. I’m talking about building a neighborhood in the parking lots around our current stadium. Take away the acres of parking spaces that go unused for half the year and plant houses and condos and lofts and markets in their place.
And for all those worried about where they would park once all the lots were gone:
Oh sure, there are plenty of places to build and hide parking desks for the throngs of people that stream in from the burbs, and they could even be built adjacent to the interstate for easy access to and from. There they could also serve as a barrier to the traffic noise for our newly built neighborhood.
If there are any developers out there who would like my help/advice/input on what to do around Turner Field, let me know, I've been thinking about this for ten years.
I salute this decision by Atlanta. It's been too long in coming, but someone is City Hall has finally seen the light. Talking Chop will be tracking this story as it develops.