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Midtown named one of the 5 best neighborhoods of 2016

by Peter Thomas Ricci

atlanta-midtown-neighborhood

Atlanta’s Midtown neighborhood is no stranger to acclaim, but the folks at the American Planning Association (APA) may have very well granted the area its finest distinction yet.

As part of its annual “Great Places” report, the APA has selected Midtown as one of the top five neighborhoods in the country, noting the area’s many amenities in its selection.

Atlanta’s Midtown – a dynamic neighborhood

APA’s report emphasized a number of Midtown’s qualities, including:

A rags-to-riches story – Although Midtown was initially one of Atlanta’s finest neighborhoods, it suffered population declines amidst the rapid suburbanization of post-war America, and by the ’60s, the community was known for its blight and countercultural atmosphere. The Midtown Alliance, though, brought together community, civic and business groups, and in the last ’90s, it began working with the city on rezoning the neighborhood and spurring development; since then, nearly $5 billion in private investment has been pumped into Midtown.

Urban innovation – In addition to being Atlanta’s “heart of the arts,” with some of the most varied artistic communities in the Southeast, Midtown is also a center of innovation, with Georgia Tech, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and the Savannah College of Art and Design-Atlanta all located in its 1.2-mile stretch.

Construction boom – APA noted that this summer, there were “20 major mixed-use development projects actively under construction, including residential apartments, condos and townhomes ranging from two to 25 stories.” Additionally, Midtown Alliance has embarked on a number of projects, including: a $5.6-million renovation of Juniper Street to include buffered bike lanes and improved sidewalks and lightning; and a transformation of the I-75/85 Connector, with enhancements to two Peachtree Street bridges and improvements to the 10th Street Bridge.

Public transit and sustainability – Not only are Midtown’s four rail stations immediately accessible to 96 percent of the neighborhood’s buildings, but Midtown Alliance also collaborates with employers to encourage ride sharing and public transit usage.

Additionally, the neighborhood is keen on sustainability, with the Ecodistrict program and Atlanta Streets Alive, the June weekend when Peachtree Street is closed to cars.

Cultural dynamism – Finally, Midtown features some of the country’s richest urban culture. For instance, the area’s architecture is truly unique, with the Fox Theatre’s Moorish stylings and central dome a top attraction.  The Music Midtown fest transforms Piedmont Park every September into a vibrant concert venue. The Peachtree Road Race is the largest 10K in the world. And the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival features some of the South’s very finest cuisine.

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