Revitalizing neighborhoods: Atlanta's Glenwood Park

Glenwood Park is an award-iwnning, 28-acre, mixed-use redevelopment

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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…

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - 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.

Several key factors distinguish Glenwood Park from other infill developments:
1. Mixing different housing types with retail outlets, office space, civic buildings and recreational assets.
2. Emphasis on the public realm. While conventional developments focus on privacy and exclusivity Glenwood focuses on the public use of the streets, sidewalks, parks, plazas and other public spaces.
3. Designed for people. Walkable, streets and sidewalks stress pedestrian comfort. People can easily walk to interesting corridors within short times because of the relative compactness of the development.
4. Vibrant commercial district designed to accommodate the entire metro area.
5. Flexibility. Glenwood is designed to evolve over time to the needs of the community. 

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.

Bill Kennedy Way, construction of this main road broke ground in 2003. To prepare the property for redevelopment, 40,000 cubic yards of concrete, 40,000 cubic yards of buried wood chips, and 13 periously unknown underground storage tanks had to be cleaned and removed from the site. When actual home construction started in 2004, residential builders had to follow the development's architectural code and meet Atlanta's EarthCraft House program standards. Green Street was able to overcome the financial pressure to do things in a conventional way through financing the project through a small group of investors instead of banks.

Because of the project's density, it's estimated that 1.6 million miles of driving is saved per year over what residents would have driven if it was developed as a "typical" autocentric subdivision.

Although not fully built out, the vision of Green Street Properties can be clearly seen today. Since its creation, Glenwood Park has received numerous awards; They include:

2005 Charter Award, Congress for New Urbanism
2005 EarthCraft House Development of the Year
2004 Community of the Year, Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association
Outstanding Community, Georgia Urban Forest Council
2004 Best Atlanta Real Estate Developer (Charles Brewer), Creative Loafing's Best of Atlanta
2004 Distinguished Conservationist Award (Charles Brewer), Georgia Conservancy

Article by Ennis Davis 

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