ACTION ITEM

In Partnership with Local Communities, Strategically Focus Resources in Areas of Need and Importance

ARC works with local governments to foster vibrant, walkable communities, greater access to parks and greenspace, better housing options, and strong economies. ARC has developed a range of programs and initiatives designed to help the Atlanta region maintain a high quality of life.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

LIVABLE CENTERS INITIATIVE HELPS COMMUNITIES RE-ENVISION DEVELOPED AREAS AND IMPROVE WALKING AND BIKING OPTIONS

Roundabout at Emory Village

An LCI study helped fund a roundabout and new streetscapes in Emory Village. Today, it’s a less congested, safer area, bustling with shops and restaurants

From major employment centers like Buckhead and Downtown Atlanta, to smaller downtowns like McDonough and Suwanee, ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) program helps communities re-invest in areas that already have the infrastructure to support jobs and development.

Through a competitive grant process, LCI helps local governments, community improvement districts (CIDs) and local residents re-envision their communities in a way that increases walking and biking options, encourages healthy lifestyles, and provides improved access to transit and jobs. The goal: to reduce car trips and improve air quality in the region.

The ARC board has allocated more than $300 million for transportation projects resulting from completed LCI studies, including sidewalks, bike lanes and roadway and intersection improvements.

Since 2000, the LCI program has invested in 119 communities throughout the Atlanta region, providing funding for planning studies and transportation projects, such as sidewalks and intersection improvements.

PLAN IN ACTION

Downtown Douglasville

Downtown Douglasville

The city of Douglasville received its first LCI grant in 2001. Since then, the city has steadily implemented its plan with an eye toward creating a more walkable downtown – and providing healthier lifestyle options for Douglasville residents.

The city’s has built sidewalks and made other pedestrian-related improvements. But the city also realized that residents needed interesting places to walk to if the Douglasville was to build a pedestrian culture. With business and redevelopment partners, the city built a conference center, reconfigured Highway 92, and redeveloped several downtown properties, most recently turning an historic car dealership into a co-working space called the Station Loft Works.

Downtown Woodstock

Downtown Woodstock

One of LCI’s greatest success stories is downtown Woodstock, a once sleepy town on the region’s northern edge. Today, it boasts a growing and lively mix of shops, offices and housing. For residents, a night on the town now means staying close to home and enjoying all the new options.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAM PROVIDES PLANNING SUPPORT TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

ARC’s Community Development Assistance program provides critical planning and technical support to help local communities improve quality of life for residents. Applicants are selected each year in a competitive solicitation process.

Applicants are asked to utilize one or more of the following four ‘lenses’ to explain their request for assistance:

  • Equity – promoting diversity or inclusion in the community
  • Prosperity –fostering economic and cultural vitality
  • Resiliency –contributing to protection of local natural resources
  • Mobility – improving circulation and connectivity

Projects include:

  • Developing and implementing zoning overlay districts
  • Developing design standards
  • Rewriting of zoning codes and ordinances
  • Conducting audits to assist with quality growth
  • Taking inventories of housing or and/or commercial property
  • Researching best practices

EXAMPLE: Helping Lithonia Inventory its Housing Stock

Lithonia housing

Lithonia housing

ARC helped Lithonia conduct an inventory of all residential properties in the city. To accomplish this, ARC developed a web-based tool and trained volunteers to gather the information. Now, Lithonia has a full electronic database and interactive map of its existing housing conditions. The city also has a report that outlines, next steps and possible tools the city might use to enhance its housing options.

The inventory was the first step in Lithonia’s participation in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing program, which also provided support for the inventory.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

FOSTERING EQUITABLE, MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENTS AROUND TRANSIT STATIONS

Conceptual rendering of TOD at Oakland City MARTA station in southwest Atlanta

Conceptual rendering of TOD at Oakland City MARTA station in southwest Atlanta

The Atlanta region is embracing the idea of transit-oriented developments (TOD), which typically include a pedestrian-friendly mix of housing, office and retail or other amenities build around transit stops, such as a MARTA rail station. Successful TODs can increase transit ridership, reduce household driving, and improve access to jobs for low-income residents and working families.

TOD projects also benefit from ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative, a program that provides grants for planning and transportation projects that promote the creation of more walkable communities with better access to jobs, services and transit. Of MARTA’s 38 rail stations, 35 are in LCI study areas.

An effort is underway to ensure that TOD projects are developed in an equitable fashion that address the needs of the entire community. The goal is to foster mixed-income communities that offer affordable housing options and access to jobs and other amenities, such as fresh, healthy food, for residents of all income levels.

To promote equitable TOD in the Atlanta region, a group of government agencies, businesses and nonprofit groups, including MARTA, ARC and Enterprise Community Partners, came together to create the TransFormation Alliance, with funding provided by the Ford Foundation. Equitable TOD seeks to achieve:

  • Increases in property values without displacing the residents who would most benefit from the increase
  • Greater economic opportunity by creating easier access for low and moderate income households

MARTA TOD Projects Include:

A 7.7-acre surface parking lot on the south side of the station is being redeveloped to include 378 market rate apartments, 92 affordable senior housing units, 41,500 square feet of retail, and 34 condos.

Surface parking at the Edgewood-Candler Park station is being been redeveloped into a mixed-use project featuring apartments, green space, street-level retail and cultural space.

A 2-acre closed parking lot across the street from the station has been redeveloped with a mix of office, retail and green space.

Plans call for 400 apartments, 80 affordable housing units, and 10,000 square feet of retail on a 4-acre property near the King Memorial station.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

ATLANTA AEROTROPOLIS ALLIANCE

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport area

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport area

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world. As such, it is not just a driver of the region’s economy, it is arguably the region’s biggest economic asset.

The area around the airport is home to several large corporate headquarters (Delta Air Lines, Chick-fil-A and Porsche Cars North America), but the market has often lagged behind the rest of the region and has developed without a cohesive strategy or overall identity.

The Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance aims to change this by transforming the airport area into a world-class Aerotropolis, making the area more attractive to international corporations, logistics companies and others that can benefit from proximity to the world’s busiest airport. The Alliance, which includes businesses, local governments, nonprofits and other interested parties, has developed a Blueprint to help foster and guide development in the area.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

CATLYST: FOSTERING A STRONGER REGIONAL ECONOMY

Metro Atlanta is a dynamic and thriving region that competes globally for business and talent. To ensure the region’s economy remains strong, ARC manages CATLYST, the region’s economic competitiveness strategy.

With a core goal of empowering upward economic mobility for all, CATLYST is a strategy designed to improve regional competitiveness and collaboration throughout the 10-county region. CATLYST will ensure that metro Atlanta has good jobs, a well-trained workforce, and the regional collaboration needed to invigorate economic growth.

It all happens through the work of project teams consisting of leaders from across the region’s public, private, and nonprofit spheres. Work began in 2017 with an evaluation of the region’s economy, including data analysis and extensive outreach (interviews, focus groups, public forums, and workshops). This work built on the 2012 Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy.

After the initial planning and outreach, the priorities were divided into four pillars, or areas of focus. These pillars were defined by the needs of individual residents, and each one is of equal importance for achieving balanced, stable economic development. Each pillar has been assigned a project team that will set goals and do the necessary work to reach them.

Here is a look at one project underway for each of the four pillars:

Employed & Engaged

Project: Ramping up efforts of the regional Marketing Alliance, which convenes the region’s economic development organizations to promote metro Atlanta as a top destination for businesses looking to move or expand.

Prepared & Productive

Project: Analyzing the root causes of disconnected and displaced workers to determine barriers to employment and identify approaches that might ease pathways to good jobs.

Healthy & Housed

Project: Identifying effective affordable housing strategies to support work being done across the Atlanta region to increase the availability of quality, affordable housing.

Connected & Resilient

Project: Studying the causes of poverty in metro Atlanta by analyzing data and reviewing relevant research.

More information about CATLYST can be found on the ARC website.

 It is the policy of ARC to:

  • Encourage increased housing, services and employment opportunities for
    residents around transit stations
  • Focus investments in redevelopment opportunities of a regional scale
  • Implement targeted planning efforts for areas with infrastructure of strategic regional importance
  • Ensure access to opportunities and resources for the region’s disadvantaged and vulnerable populations