The city and MARTA are teaming on a master plan that will attempt to tie together partial or long-stalled developments in Buckhead’s Lindbergh/Morosgo and Armour neighborhoods.
MARTA’s unfinished vision for transit-oriented development at Lindbergh Center Station lies at the core of the Lindbergh-Armour Master Plan, and a bevy of new multiuse trails — including a future Atlanta BeltLine segment — are prodding a closer look. The process is just gearing up with an intent to submit a plan to the City Council in June or July 2021.
“MARTA sees this partnership with the city of Atlanta as a great opportunity to create a cohesive vision for the Lindbergh-Armour District,” said Stephanie Fisher, a spokesperson for the transit agency.
Jason Morgan, a city planner, introduced the concept at an Oct. 6 meeting of Neighborhood Planning Unit B. Among its goals, he said, is creating better integrating housing and commercial properties — including affordable housing — with the transit and trails a “sense of identity” to the area. Morgan said he used to live in the neighborhood himself, near the MARTA station, and had trouble describing it to visitors.
The basics of the planning process are outlined on a website at bit.ly/lindbergharmour.
The study area centers on the Piedmont Road corridor roughly bordered by Ga. 400/I-85 to the east, the Armour area to the south, the Northfolk Southern rail line to the west, and Sidney Marcus Boulevard to the north. It also includes Miami Circle, southern Buford Highway to the Brookhaven border, and part of the Cheshire Bridge Road corridor.
Trail plans snaking through those areas are a major subject for the plan to tackle. PATH400 already exists within that area. In May, Atlanta BeltLine Inc. announced a prospective route for its Northeast Trail path and transit segment to run through the Armour area to the MARTA Station, though construction would start no sooner than 2023. In August, the South Fork Conservancy installed a bridge over Peachtree Creek to connect its trail system to PATH400 on Adina Lane.
How all of those projects work together is a question. Morgan said that making Piedmont Road more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly in general is another goal.
Then there’s MARTA, the 800-pound development gorilla of Lindbergh, whose headquarters is at the station. About 20 years ago, MARTA began executing a massive plan for transit-oriented redevelopment around the station. Acres of mixed-use buildings and two apartment complexes were built, but they are less transit-oriented than MARTA envision, and other phases of the plan have stalled. And now MARTA has a long-term plan to build a new rail line called the Clifton Corridor between Lindbergh Center and the Emory University area.
A proposal for a hotel, apartments and retail space on MARTA-owned property at 2400 Piedmont was announced in 2018, but Fisher says it was “scrapped” as the transit agency couldn’t come to terms with the developer. Fisher said MARTA has interest from other developers for that site and adjacent property for projects that could have “workforce and affordable housing components.”
A massive player is Rubenstein Partners, which last year bought the 1 million-square-foot, twin-towered office complex called Lindbergh Center, which stands next to MARTA’s headquarters. AT&T, the longtime tenant, has leases expiring at year’s end.
The company did not respond to questions about its plans. But in a press release last year, Taylor Smith, the company’s Southeast regional director, said changes are afoot.
“We intend to breathe new life into Lindbergh by adding new retailers, infusing the district with art and vibrant design elements and reopening Lindbergh’s connection with the surrounding neighborhoods through improvement of the existing green spaces and event programming,” Smith said in the release. “Lindbergh Center is already a key component of one of the best transit-oriented developments in Atlanta and Rubenstein is looking forward to working in partnership with MARTA to improve this transformative urban property even further.”
In another piece of the puzzle, MARTA recently completed construction on two soccer pitches on Morosgo Drive. They are part of a program to add similar pitches to several transit stations and operate a league, which is expected to start playing in Lindbergh soon.
Morgan said the city is beginning to set up an input process that will include groups of technical experts look at the trails, transit-oriented development and “multi-modal transportation.” A “community voices working group” with members of NPUs and neighborhood associations will set “ultimate goals,” define the local identity and prioritize improvements, he said. Residents may participate in the expert groups, too. The meeting process could begin in November.