After attendees returned from one of the larger spaces at Third Rail Studios that provided safety, Aaron Fortner of Canvas Planning Group started his presentation off with, “Opening on a unique experience…never thought a tornado would be one of them.” The event was held at Third Rail Studios, located within the borders of the former General Motors Plant redevelopment site (Assembly) in Doraville.
The project, funded by a $96,000 grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission, is allowing the cities of Doraville and Chamblee to focus a study on the 4.5 mile stretch of Buford Highway extending from Oakcliff Road in Doraville to Clairmont Road in Chamblee.
In September, the team of planners gathered data and assisted in putting together strategies for developing Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) objectives. The first Public Meeting was held in October.
The team of planners for the study includes:
Fortner was one of three speakers presenting the preliminary findings for the Buford Highway (BuHi) LCI as part of the corridor’s master plan. Calvin Gladney of Mosaic Urban Partners and Ryan Gravel of Sixpitch and creator of Atlanta BeltLine, were the other two speakers. He spoke of what is known of Buford Hwy. as having twenty thousand cars per day, containing diverse neighborhoods on a stretch that is on a low-density, 7-lane GDOT right-of-way containing businesses, restaurants, little residential areas and offices along the corridor.
Bus ridership along Buford Hwy. from Linbergh to Doraville, is around 6,000 riders per day.Fortner said the attraction to the area, being that it is a known food destination where people value the cultural diversity, the study team is looking at ways to make the BuHi area more viable and more engaging.
Ideas to make the area more enticing and even more of a destination includes enhanced bus service with stops that feel inviting to riders, more mid-block crossings, wider sidewalks and public spaces for events and gatherings.
Input for these ideas came from the community via an on-line survey with 300 respondents, covering everything from walkability, greenspace and sidewalks, to greater diversity in the types of businesses on BuHi.
Gladney provided the market analysis for the corridor outlining the demographics, area geography, real estate conditions for the area, the character, market area, the supply and demand of BuHi, the working population, and whether the population needs to grow in order to support the businesses.
Factoring in as part of the analysis are reasonable rental rates, a CDC expansion considering the area is not much of an office market, and acknowledging that the retail market is pretty stable.
Pointing out that businesses consist of mainly restaurants and auto service, Gladney said BuHi is not currently a shopping destination. He suggested planned development as possibly being a game changer for the area resulting in more people visiting with disposal income that could be leveraged for new development and emerging possibilities.
Audience member, Sinh Bui commented, “The cultural experience being more than about food and that it has to be reflected in the data.”
Considered by some as a visionary throughout Atlanta because of his work on the Atlanta Beltline, Gravel had a more personalized focus addressing the audience in rethinking BuHi.
Gravel, who is from Louisiana and grew up around the Buford Highway area in Chamblee, spoke of remembering Plaza Fiesta as being a conventional mall. “We are rethinking what we’ve done,” he said. “How do we transform Buford Highway to give us the lives that we want?” He said the solution may lie between a mix of solutions involving transit improvements and economic strategies.
A second Community Forum will held on December 14th at I Luv Pho, 5145 Buford Highway NE, Doraville, GA 30340 from 7-8:30 PM.
For more information visit BuHi Master Plan. There is also a community survey offered in English, Chinese, Spanish, Korean, and Vietnamese.
The plan is set to be finalized in January or February of 2017.
The Buford Highway Master Plan – Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) presentation below.