Neighborhoods - Beyond the Beltline

Five public projects that could fundamentally change Atlanta neighborhoods

A single public project can change an entire city. It can also alter the tight-knit fabric of neighborhoods, often with mixed results. The Atlanta Beltline has dominated recent conversations about the city’s future, with people alternately praising and panning aspects of the massive project.

But the 22-mile loop of parks, trails, and transit is far from the only public project expected to transform Atlanta in the years and decades to come. Elsewhere in the city, vibrant neighborhoods could replace a stadium and sprawling parking lots; a former military base might attract businesses to underinvested communities; a mammoth quarry could become the city’s largest park; a historic-but-neglected part of Downtown has the potential to return to its glory days; and a boulevard named after the city’s greatest civil rights icon could finally live up to its name.

Development can result in progress in the form of more jobs, new businesses, increased housing, lower crime rates, and decreased blight. But challenges exist as well. Projects proposed in historically underinvested parts of the city, welcome by many residents, raise concerns over gentrification and displacement.

In a city filled with neighborhoods — 242 to be exact — the interests of local residents have often taken a backseat. At times, their concerns have gone unaddressed, even if a public input process formally existed. Such neglect has meant that development, touted in the name of progress, has come at the cost of neighborhoods.

In the coming decades, the following five projects — Turner Field, Fort McPherson, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Underground Atlanta, and Bellwood Quarry — will have the potential to transform the city and, perhaps more importantly, the surrounding communities.