Editor's Note - May 31 2006

Debate about Buckhead is over

For more than a decade, the question of what to do about Buckhead has conjured bitter debates over opposing visions for the wealthiest part of the city.

Should Buckhead remain party central, complete with packed nightclubs and midnight traffic jams? Or should it hone its reputation as a Southern-fried Beverly Hills, emphasizing more sedate activities like upscale shopping? Was the effort to shutter those nightclubs colored by racial prejudice, or was it just an attempt to yank a thug element from a dangerously out-of-control party scene?

As Scott Henry's cover story makes clear, the debate is over. Buckhead's party scene lost out and scattered across the metro area. And big money interests wasted no time setting about to remake the district with fancy streetscapes and marquis towers.

Such revamps can have their bad side. Atlanta's known for weeding out ramshackle buildings and other idiosyncrasies that might give the city character. What a pity if buildings that once housed the bars and shops collectively known as Buckhead Village were leveled to make way for sterile high rises.

But, mainly, it seems Buckhead's boom actually will make the district a better neighborhood. Unlike past projects, which were tailored exclusively to the automobile, the new developments have street-level shops and a mix of housing, retail and offices. That's the kind of compact design that welcomes pedestrians and works best to make alternatives to the car more viable.

Such "New Urbanism"-style developments already have done a lot to remake Midtown into a far more exciting part of town. Now, as Scott's story points out, that urban sensibility is spreading northward. It's about time.

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