Representatives from the City of Atlanta’s Department of City Planning, Office of Mobility Planning have informed the Virginia-Highland Civic Association along with the landlord and business owners along the business node at Amsterdam and N Highland regarding a placemaking project at this intersection. For those unfamiliar, placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to planning, design and management of a space with the intention of creating more usable public spaces (and intersections, in this case) that are attractive to people because they are ideally both more pleasurable and often times more interesting. This is a conscious design principle that involves designing streets as comfortable and safe places for everyone—for pedestrians and bicyclists as well as drivers. Placemaking projects and parklets have sprung up in cities like Phoenix, Philadelphia, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle and San Diego, among others.
A draft rendition of the City’s current plan is here. The last drawing includes the latest contemplated design with callouts and dimensions. As seen in the imagery, design elements under consideration include the installation of several new painted ‘bulb-outs’ for traffic calming purposes, a 3D-painted crosswalk and a decorative crosswalk for enhanced visibility and safety, and a parklet along N Highland with amenities such as movable furniture, outdoor lighting, planters and an umbrella.
The City selected this location as one of the first to deploy in the city because it is a part of a thriving neighborhood retail corridor that has foot traffic, has transit adjacency, is easily usable (because of the amount of concrete/width of the intersection), and has no metered parking.
The implementation of placemaking generally can be broken down into three essential parts:
- The first element is creating safe, visible crosswalks. Under consideration is installation of a 3D-painted crosswalk south of Mali restaurant on Amsterdam and a restriping of the western north-south crosswalk on N Highland with decorative painting,
- The second element of placemaking here would highly contribute to the safety and ease of pedestrian crossing. Under consideration are painted bulb-outs on both western-side corners of the intersection. Bulb-outs are a curb-extension that serves as a traffic calming measure, primarily used to extend the sidewalk, reduce the crossing distance and allow for both pedestrians about to cross and approaching vehicular drivers to see each other better (when vehicles parked in a parking lane would otherwise block visibility, as exists today).
- The third element of placemaking here provides the passerby and users of surrounding commercial districts a place of refuge and social engagement. Under consideration is a parklet (a sidewalk extension that provides more space and amenities for people using the street) along N Highland with amenities like movable furniture, outdoor lighting, planters and an umbrella.
An overall timeline for commencement is forthcoming but is anticipated to occur in the March/April timeframe.
The Department of City Planning invites you to attend our Placemaking Program Question and Answer Meeting.
Wednesday, February 21st, 2018
Downtown Central Library
(One Margaret Mitchell Square, Atlanta, GA 30303).
Snacks will be provided! This meeting is an opportunity to learn more and ask questions about the Placemaking Program and the upcoming application.
Article submitted by David Brandenberger, VHCA Board of Director Chair