Peachtree Road is one of Brookhaven’s busiest streets, but some are hopeful that the thoroughfare may one day provide better access to people traveling by bike or by foot.
At background sessions leading up to a four-day charrette, Brookhaven residents began sharing their vision for the redevelopment of the Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA station.
The planning and brainstorming event, known as a charrette, was scheduled for Oct. 21-24. The charrette brings together architects, urban planners, transportation experts and stakeholders to discuss ways to make “transit-oriented development” at the MARTA station a reality.
The Brookhaven-Oglethorpe MARTA station is one of several stations around Atlanta with underutilized parking lots that have been identified as strong candidates for redevelopment with a mix of residential and commercial uses.
Robert Reed, communities design director with Southface, an environmental nonprofit organizing the events, said the purpose of the charrette is to help the community zero in on what it wants before a developer is selected for the project.
“One of our deliverables is a quality development guideline,” Reed said.
The Brookhaven community has long been interested in focusing more resources around the MARTA station, located at the intersection of Peachtree and North Druid Hills roads.
A Livable Centers Initiative study conducted by the Atlanta Regional Commission in 2006 identified the MARTA station as a centerpiece for a future Brookhaven town center that would include a mix of office, retail and public spaces.
But Reed said people must be able to safely walk to and from the MARTA station before a transit-oriented development can be successful.
“We have to have a pedestrian-friendly Peachtree Street,” Reed said.
The goal is to improve safety and usability along Peachtree for pedestrians, bikers, and other alternative modes of transportation.
“Everyone complains about car traffic, but there’s more than one way to get around,” Reed said.
Some residents voiced concerns about traffic along Peachtree. They said the road is already congested without future development around MARTA and the new apartment buildings under construction along Dresden Drive.
Reed said making roads friendlier for alternative transportation lessens the impact of development, but won’t solve current traffic issues.
“I’m not saying this development is going to make it better, but this development is going to happen one way or another,” Reed said.
Bob Munger, president of the Augusta Greenway Alliance, shared information about low-speed vehicles. His organization promotes sustainable transportation, including the use of golf-cart-like, low-speed vehicles, which he said are an environmentally-friendly option.
He said the vehicles can be used on roads with low speed limits and on multi-purpose trails. Unlike electric cars, he said they can be charged at home without a special charging station at a cost of about 2 cents per mile.
“We emphasize it because we feel we have an excellent way to get around that’s underutilized,” Munger said. “The vehicles are very economical to own and operate.”
Dan Reuter, with the Atlanta Regional Commission, said more dense, urban development is the trend in the region.
“Our region is going to continue to grow,” Reuter said. “People are moving back into urban places, particularly young people.”
Rent is higher in walkable, urban areas, which benefits local economies, he said.
“These urban places have really been run up in the past five to 10 years. They’re very desirable places to live,” Reuter said.