The Atlanta Regional Commission today announced the winners of the 2018 Developments of Excellence awards during the agency’s State of the Region Breakfast. The awards recognize the developments and places in the 10-county Atlanta region that are improving quality of life for residents.
The top award, the 2018 Development of Excellence, went to La France Walk, a residential community in the city of Atlanta’s Edgewood neighborhood that features varied housing options and price points to encourage greater diversity and walkability.
ARC also presented its Great Places Award to The Aerotropolis Area, a dynamic part of the Atlanta region that includes communities around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. This is an area that’s on the move, thanks to a rare spirit of intensive collaboration and planning among its key players.
Other awards recognized: the city of Chamblee and Mercy Park senior housing and healthcare facility; Constellations, a lovingly restored workspace in downtown Atlanta that honors the building’s history and the civil rights legacy of the neighborhood; and Alpharetta City Center, a walkable district that resulted from a public-private partnership years in the making.
ARC Development of Excellence: La France Walk Kronberg Wall Architects
La France Walk is an innovative residential community in the heart of Atlanta’s Edgewood neighborhood that offers a variety of housing styles and price points, with a pedestrian-friendly design that encourages a strong sense of community.
This development successfully addresses metro Atlanta’s “missing middle” housing challenge by offering options that go beyond apartments or single-family homes. The development is being built in phases, and will ultimately have 24 housing units, including 10 single-family houses, four duplexes, and three multi-family apartment buildings, creating living spaces that accommodate different ages, incomes, and phases of life.
The design of La France Walk emphasizes connectivity and walkability in a variety of ways. It is located just blocks from the Edgewood-Candler Park MARTA station and the shops of Edgewood Retail District, and the development minimizes available parking space for vehicles.
None of the single-family houses include garages. Six have adjacent studio spaces that may be used by homeowners or rented out as workspaces or studio apartments — creating yet another housing option. And each home in La France Walk engages the street, with minimal setbacks, spacious front porches, and broad sidewalks.
Kronberg Wall Architects created the space to fit the context of the surrounding neighborhood. Environmentally-friendly features also abound, including low-maintenance landscaping, custom steel rain barrels, energy-efficient doors and windows, and roofs that are solar ready — with an optional rooftop solar system upgrade. Together, La France Walk’s energy-efficient structures and its emphasis on commute alternatives mean a greatly reduced carbon footprint.
La France Walk is a vibrant example of how creative infill development can seamlessly fit into an existing neighborhood while offering exciting new housing options.
Developments of Excellence 2018
Exceptional Merit for LCI Achievement: The City of Chamblee and Mercy Park The City of Chamblee
St. Joseph’s Health System/Mercy Care
Mercy Housing Southeast
The city of Chamblee is an outstanding example of what’s possible when a city makes steady strides toward fulfilling its vision for its future.
Chamblee began the process in 2001 with a Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plan that sought to transform the area surrounding Chamblee’s MARTA station, which at the time was dominated by vacant and underutilized commercial spaces and parking lots.
Today, Chamblee’s Town Center is a vibrant, walkable downtown that realizes the city’s LCI plan and plays into its strength of being adjacent to transit.
New streetscapes along Peachtree Road, Pierce Drive, and Peachtree Boulevard include landscaping and traffic calming. And a new water-feature-focused park along a section of the Chamblee Rail-Trail adjacent to the Chamblee-Tucker MARTA station adds even more vibrancy.
These amenities have attracted a great deal of new development and adaptive reuse of historic structures, including bustling restaurants, retail, and residential development.
One especially notable development is Mercy Park. Exemplifying the best in integration of healthcare and community life, this four-acre campus in Town Center brings together a 79-unit senior residential community and a nonprofit health clinic that serves both residents and the general public.
The residential community is reserved for individuals over 62 years of age making 50% to 60% of the area’s median income. In addition, 10% of units are reserved for people with disabilities, and 8% are reserved for veterans. The health clinic serves residents and the surrounding community with pediatric and adult primary care, behavioral health, and dental services.
Mercy Park engages the community with buildings that are set close to the street and within walking distance of transit, the Chamblee Rail Trail, retail, and other services. In addition, the development is LEED certiﬁed, and the residential component generates a signiﬁcant amount of its electricity onsite with roof-mounted solar panels.
Exceptional Merit for Innovations in Adaptive Reuse: Constellations
Gene Kansas Cultural Developers
Constellations is a restored two-story red brick building in Atlanta’s historic Sweet Auburn Avenue District that brings together 18 civic and socially-minded organizations under one roof.
This rehabilitated workspace began its life in 1910 as the Southern School Book Building, and its redevelopment pays respect to that history with fine design highlights reminiscent of early 20th century architecture, from the lovingly restored façade, to the re-created original mahogany wood door in the front entrance.
Even though he was not required to do so, developer Gene Kansas completed the project to comply with state historic preservation standards. Energy-saving elements include motion-activated LED lights, energy-efficient thermostats, water-bottle filling stations, and a recycling program.
Proudly situated in the neighborhood known for being the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights movement, Constellations honors this legacy while emphasizing its connection with the surrounding community. The development regularly partners with neighboring educational organizations to hold cultural and community events. And half of Constellation’s businesses are nonprofits, while about two-thirds are led by women. Its communal spaces — including a library, a podcast studio, and a café — inspire interactions among tenants.
Constellations also encourages its occupants to explore the area’s plentiful commute options. The development doesn’t provide onsite parking, nor does it include parking in its lease agreements.
Exceptional Merit for Context-Sensitive Town Center Development: Alpharetta City Center The City of Alpharetta
Morris & Fellows
South City Partners
MidCity Real Estate Partners
Alpharetta City Center is the beating heart of downtown Alpharetta. Its walkable 26 acres are home to Alpharetta City Hall, a Fulton County Library branch, as well as restaurants, retail, offices, luxury apartments, single-family houses, and 2.5 acres of green space.
The project is a result of a public-private partnership whose groundwork was laid 15 years ago when the city of Alpharetta first set forth its goals to build a true downtown through its LCI program. In the years since, it has worked steadily to create City Center from mostly underutilized commercial spaces around the intersection of N. Main Street and Academy Street.
The transformation is dramatic. The City Center has replaced an assortment of empty lots and underused buildings with a unified building design that blends seamlessly with the surrounding historic downtown, including a network of bike-ped paths that connect housing to schools, retail, and other amenities. The development is designed around five major green spaces. At its center, the Town Green connects the new City Hall to the restaurants and shops of Main Street.
City Center has attracted a great deal of development, such as chef-driven restaurants and residential, retail, and offices — including DataScan, whose headquarters now fill 36,000 of a 45,000 square-foot building.
The development has important green touches, too. Pervious surfaces — which help reduce storm-water runoff — make up more than 10 of its 26 acres. This was accomplished by replacing old streets and parking lots with green spaces that house freestanding buildings. In addition, pervious materials were installed wherever possible to mitigate storm-water, and an underground system ﬁlters storm-water runoﬀ before it reaches the property’s detention pond.
Great Place Award: The Aerotropolis Area
Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance
The world’s most-travelled airport. Charming, shop-lined downtown districts. Historic neighborhoods. Global business headquarters. Film and television studios.
All of these can be found in Atlanta’s Aerotropolis area, a vibrant, dynamic part of our region.
The area, anchored by Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, has long been the Atlanta region’s largest job center. In recent years, the Aerotropolis area has become home to new economic development engines large and small — such as Porsche Cars North America headquarters, Screen Gems Atlanta Studios, mixed-use projects like Gateway Center, and up-and-coming apartment communities like The Pad on Harvard.
Meanwhile, cities in the area, including College Park, East Point, and Hapeville, have revitalized their downtowns, creating lively places to eat, shop, and stroll. Hapeville even has a thriving arts scene.
Several efforts are helping drive change in the Aerotropolis area.
The Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, founded in 2014, is a public-private partnership that includes Atlanta’s airport and surrounding jurisdictions, corporations, and private businesses, as well as local chambers of commerce, and educational partners. The Alliance, in partnership with the Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs, has catalyzed a new era of cooperation that has brought positive change and revitalization to the area — with the promise of much more to come.
Additionally, the effort has brought attention to many hidden gems in the area. The Finding the Flint campaign seeks to reconnect communities across the Aerotropolis area through green space and trails along the long-overlooked Flint River, an ambitious project that’s been compared to the Atlanta BeltLine in its vision and transformative possibilities.
About the Atlanta Regional Commission
The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is the official planning agency for the 10-county Atlanta Region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as the City of Atlanta and 73 other cities. ARC serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues.
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