The Atlanta City Council has provided $48,000 to the ongoing effort to improve the area around West End and Morehouse College, an area that a Georgia Tech plan suggests is on the brink of revitalization.
This effort is in addition to the city’s plans to develop a complete streets project along a major corridor just to the north of Morehouse College. The city plans to install bike lanes, sidewalks and a linear park along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, all the way from Northside Drive to Fulton Industrial Boulevard.
The MLK project is priced at $60.2 million and the city has commitments for half the funding. The remaining $30 million will be sought from the federal government, through a TIGER grant, the same source that helped pay for construction of the Atlanta Streetcar.
For the ongoing West End study, Councilmember Cleta Winslow provided the $48,000 through the carry forward account associated with her council district, according to legislation the council approved Monday.
Winslow has provided money to three separate programs that seek to improve the West End area. Here’s how the funding breaks down:
The Morehouse program was created in order to, “establish and sustain economic and social improvement within the greater West End community,” according to its website.
The UDC was formed in 1988 in order to, “improve the physical neighborhood and enhance the quality of life for the more than 15,000 residents in the areas adjacent to the Atlanta University Center,” according to its website.
Finally the Oakland City/Lakewood LCI plan that was completed in 2004 is the subject of a major update. The Atlanta Regional Commission announced in February that it will provide $60,000 for an update that is to include the Fort McPherson area in the plan.
In addition to these ongoing plans, Georgia Tech students produced a framework plan for the West End area. This plan was the outgrowth of the students’ previously completed framework plan for Northside Drive, including the communities around the new Falcons Stadium.
The framework study suggests that West End is ripe for new investments in retail and residential. Although the area faces plenty of problems, including blight and a high percentage of vacancies, the report found glimmers of hope:
“The high level of vacancy and depressed property values should not be seen as a weakness; in fact, this should be seen as an opportunity.”
A major part of the framework plan is a renewal of Mall West End.
The student plan envisions the outparcels being developed while the existing shops function inside the mall. At some point in the future, new buildings would predominate and the mall could be demolished and replaced with structures that could meet any number of market demands.