The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) today announced the winners of this year’s Developments of Excellence awards during the agency’s State of the Region Breakfast. The awards recognize the developments and places that are improving quality of life in the 10-county Atlanta region.
The top award, the 2017 Development of Excellence, went to Parsons Alley, a retail development and gathering space in Duluth that brought a carefully-planned community vision to life.
ARC also presented its Great Places Award to the Atlanta University Center, whose Civil Rights legacy and steadfast commitment to community enhance the region’s character every day.
Other awards recognized a senior housing facility in Fairburn that’s been fully integrated into the surrounding neighborhood, a mixed-use development in Alpharetta that turned a foreclosed property into a popular destination, and a thriving development that’s created a whole new way to enjoy a ballgame.
2017 Developments of Excellence Awards
ARC Development of Excellence: Parsons Alley
City of Duluth
Vantage Realty Partners
Parsons Alley is a mixed-use development that honors Duluth’s history while providing a vibrant, modern place for the community to gather in downtown Duluth.
The development includes 40,000 square feet of retail space surrounding a public plaza filled with artwork. Parsons Allen incorporates the historic Duluth Baptist Church and parsonage built in 1948 and the 1904 Bank of Duluth building.
Parsons Alley is a cornerstone of Duluth’s vision for a walkable town center that evokes a sense of place.
The effort began in the early 2000s, when city leaders engaged the public through a Livable Centers Initiative study to establish a new vision for Duluth’s downtown. This process led to a new City Hall, town green, streetscapes, and private development.
The adjacent Parsons Alley area, owned by the city, was underutilized and seen as ripe for redevelopment. The city primed the property by investing in infrastructure. Meanwhile, the community embraced the area, activating the space with artwork and events.
The development team of Kronberg Wall, Fabric Developers, and Vantage Realty then brought the city’s vision to life. Parsons Alley provides additional connectivity, linking the town green and city municipal buildings at one end to Coleman Middle School at the other.
Exceptional Merit for LCI Achievement: Manor at Broad Street
City of Fairburn
Each year, ARC presents an award of Exceptional Merit to a community that is making strides in the implementation of its vision, crafted through ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI). The LCI program provides grants to communities to help them re-envision themselves as more connected, livable places.
Manor at Broad Street, once a brownfield site, was transformed by the city of Fairburn and the Prestwick Companies to implement the city’s LCI vision.
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Taking advantage of low-income housing tax credits, the Manor offers affordable housing to lower-income older adults.
The 88-unit facility is fully integrated with Fairburn’s downtown. It’s close to the senior center, post office, library, shops, and several parks. New brick crosswalks were added to improve accessibility, and the site is served by a MARTA bus that runs to the East Point rail station.
“Green” features include low-flow showerheads and toilets, and energy-efficient heat pumps. The Manor also achieved the Southface Energy Institute’s EarthCraft Community Certification and EarthCraft Multifamily Certification.
Exceptional Merit for Catalytic Development: The Battery Atlanta & SunTrust Park
The 74-acre development is more than a place to catch a game. It’s a thriving, mixed-use development that is home to shops and restaurants, major employers like SunTrust Bank and Comcast, a full-service hotel, more than 500 residential units, and an indoor concert venue.
This new center of activity has sparked other development and contributed to an economic resurgence in the Cumberland area.
Careful planning by Fuqua Development has also brought new connectivity to the area. Elevated walkways and pedestrian bridges span major roads and highways, connecting the Battery to Cobb Galleria Centre and Cumberland Mall.
The property features a command center to help officials respond to traffic flow in real time by adjusting signals. Environmentally friendly touches include energy-efficient LED lighting and large underground storage vaults that capture storm water and gradually release it.
Exceptional Merit for Catalytic Development: Avalon
North American Properties
It seemed like a symbol of the recession: an unfinished parking garage and piles of dirt that loomed over Alpharetta’s Old Milton Parkway for years.
North American Properties bought the distressed property out of foreclosure in 2011 and set out to create Avalon, an 86-acre mixed-use development that both responds to and catalyzes today’s growing demand for walkable, connected spaces.
Avalon boasts a dense mix of retail, office, dining, and entertainment, as well as single-family townhomes, apartments and a central plaza. Its sidewalks and landscaped paths encourage foot traffic.
Avalon is making strides to connect to its surrounding community. North American Properties worked with MARTA to extend a bus route to the development, and the Alpha Loop bike trail, now under construction, will connect it to downtown Alpharetta.
Sustainable design elements include innovative storm-water runoff management systems and reflective roofing to keep cooling bills down in the summer.
Avalon has proved popular. Its residential and office space is nearly fully leased, and a hotel and conference center are on the way.
Great Place Award: Atlanta University Center
Atlanta University Center Consortium
Every year, ARC presents a Great Place award to a place in the region that enhances metro Atlanta’s character.
The winner of this year’s Great Place award is the Atlanta University Center, the world’s oldest and largest cluster of African-American private colleges. The AUC Consortium includes Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse School of Medicine.
Morris Brown College and the Interdenominational Theological Center also share the campus and are significant in its rich legacy. That legacy dates back to the late 1800s when Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta, and Morris Brown were founded to educate newly-freed enslaved individuals.
Many of the original buildings are still in use, and the campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The AUC was a wellspring for the Civil Rights movement, producing leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ralph David Abernathy, Lonnie King, Julian Bond, and Ruby Doris Smith. Other prominent alumni and faculty include W.E.B. DuBois, Pearl Cleage, Marian Wright-Edelman, and Spike Lee.
The schools of the Atlanta University Center are committed to helping the surrounding neighborhoods, engaging in more than 100,000 hours of community service each year.
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