Loading...
 

Barren Highlands

Larger streetscape project coming

When a tree — or, in this case, 18 of them — falls in Virginia-Highland, you can bet that someone (er, everyone) notices.

??
The once-shady sidewalks where North Highland Avenue meets Virginia Avenue recently were stripped of their billowy, 20-foot Bradford pear trees by the city of Atlanta's Public Works Department. As a result, the iconic corner, anchored by the Highland Tap and Moe's & Joe's, looks a little naked these days.

??
But the removal of the trees wasn't a quick decision, nor was it an autocratic one. The city has been working closely with the neighborhood's civic and business associations to come up with a plan for a larger streetscape project. The tree-cutting was a long time coming.

??
"We've been talking about it in the neighborhood for literally years," says John Craft, vice president of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association. "But people are so busy with their normal lives that it just didn't break through the clutter of all the other stuff."

??
Though the stately rows of Bradford pears are gone, flora of another sort will be planted in their place. The fallen trees will be replaced with heartier Chinese elms.

??
Still, the massacre of so much flora in one of the cities most bustling retail and nightlife districts came as a bit of a shock to some residents, shoppers and bar crawlers.

??
"People who were not familiar with the total project were just kind of flipping out," says Stuart Meddin, who owns all of the properties — from La Tavola on Virginia Avenue to Bella Cucina on North Highland — at the intersection's northwest corner. "Nobody wants to cut a tree down. But the concept had always been that the entire project would encompass replacing trees, because we all want them there."

??
Bradford pears (commonly mistaken for dogwoods because of their impressive springtime bloom) typically have a 25-year lifespan and begin at age 15 to drop branches — some of which fell on parked cars, according to Meddin. Bradford pears also lose their leaves in the fall.

??
Chinese elms, which resemble a cross between a weeping willow and giant bonsai, grow to about the same height as a Bradford pear, with a wider canopy. Chinese elms also stay green longer, losing their dark, leathery leaves only from December to February. Unlike Bradford pears, Chinese elms don't flower in the spring.

??
The trees aren't all that's changing. The streetscape project also includes ornamental streetlights and sidewalks with hexagonal pavers and granite curbs. And on the west side of North Highland Avenue, the sidewalk will expand from 8 feet to 12, possibly allowing streetside dining.

??
"The cafe seating is something that we're all striving for," Meddin says. "And some of the restaurants expect to be able to do that."

??
The project covers 400 feet of North Highland Avenue (from Virginia to Los Angeles avenues) and 330 feet of Virginia Avenue (from North Highland Avenue to Todd Road). According to the Department of Public Works, construction will wrap up within six months.




[Admin link: Barren Highlands]

Spider for Barren Highlands