Revitalizing Neighborhoods: Atlanta's Glenwood Park

May 2, 2012 16 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Glenwood Park is an award-winning, 28-acre, mixed-use brownfield redevelopment, two miles southeast of downtown Atlanta. The neighborhood is noted for its commitment to traditional neighborhood design, walkability, mix of uses, and environmental management practices.

Prior to its development, the project's location was an industrial site that had been used as a concrete recycling facility.  In 2000, the industrial site was purchased by Novare Group.  During the real estate boom, Novare had looked into developing a similar project in downtown Jacksonville.  By the time Novare was ready to build, the market had changed, causing Novare to invite Atlanta-based Green Street Properties to take over the development.

Green Street's plan was to create a development that would be a real neighborhood, moreso than an isolated infill project.  The result was a neighborhood featuring a traditional mix of different housing types, along with retail, office, civic, and recreational assets.

Glenwood Park will be a real neighborhood that features a traditional fine-grained mix of different housing types as well as retail activity, office space, civic buildings, and recreational assets.

Glenwood Park will offer a compelling alternative for those who are dissatisfied with the choices provided by conventional development. Conventional development emphasizes the private realm—privacy, exclusivity, bigger and bigger houses. Glenwood Park will emphasize the public realm—community, diversity, the quality and character of streets, and sidewalks, parks, plazas, and other public spaces.

Glenwood Park will gracefully accommodate cars, but it will be designed for people. It will be very walkable. Cars will travel slowly, and sidewalk and street designs will emphasize pedestrian comfort and safety. There will be plenty of interesting things to walk to, because of the fine-grained mix of uses. And walks won’t be too long, because the neighborhood will be relatively compact.

The commercial center of Glenwood Park will have retail establishments that serve the practical everyday needs of both Glenwood Park and its surrounding neighborhoods—needs that are currently not well served. And because of its unique character and easy access, it will also act as home for businesses that are a destination for citizens of the entire metro area and beyond.

Glenwood Park will be designed to allow a great deal of flexibility in how the neighborhood evolves over time.

In the commercial areas of the development, surface parking is located in the rear of buildings.  Both private and public spaces are provided.

Three major challenges to making Glenwood Park a reality had to be met during the permitting phase.  First, a new city ordinance had to be passed to allow the development to have narrower streets and tighter corners than what city officials originally desired.  The second issue involved reconfiguring the existing sewers to create a storm water retention park for the development.  The last major challenge was convincing the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) to give jurisdiction of Bill Kennedy Way to the City of Atlanta.  This was important because this street would serve as the project's main street, featuring street trees and on-street parking.  At the time, the GDOT was not supportive of the main street approach.

Glenwood Park site in 1993.

Glenwood Park site in 2011.

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