The BeltLine isn’t expected to bring a retail boom to the Buckhead segment, the Atlanta BeltLine Inc.’s economic development director said. Despite reports it may be backing off, Mitchell said ABI is still committed to building transit around the entire loop of the path.
Most areas around the proposed Buckhead BeltLine segments are surrounded by single-family homes and won’t be sought after by commercial developers, Jerald Mitchell said at the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods May 10 meeting, where he debriefed members on BeltLine plans.
Mitchell said he does see some potential for certain areas to be developed, such as around Bennett Street north of Piedmont Hospital.
The Buckhead trails are part of the larger BeltLine plan that proposes 33 miles of multi-use trails, a 22-mile streetcar route and 2,000 acres of parks. The Northeast Trail would be the second BeltLine trail to be built in Buckhead following the completed Northside Trail near Piedmont Hospital and Tanyard Creek Park. The Eastside Trail in Midtown and Westside Trail have also opened.
As previously announced, Mitchell said ABI expects the segment of the trail that enters Buckhead near I-85 to be completed in 2020. The other part of the trail that extends to the Lindbergh MARTA Station is in the design and fundraising phase. Mitchell did not have more specific timelines.
BeltLine plans include linking with the numerous other paths around metro Atlanta, including PATH400. Mitchell did not know specifics, but said the BeltLine has had discussions with the groups overseeing PATH400 and is trying to coordinate funding for those connections.
“In theory, when it’s done it should look like a sun because all those various connections connect into the BeltLine,” he said.
Despite reports that MARTA and ABI may not pursue rail on the BeltLine and would opt for a cheaper option like buses, Mitchell said ABI is still committed to the original plan of building light rail around the entire 22-mile BeltLine loop.
“Streetcar is something that we think is vital to the success of the project,” he said.
Among the chief concerns from companies Mitchell tries to recruit to the BeltLine area is traffic, he said.
“We think [light rail] is a big part in how that gets resolved,” he said.
The Buckhead trail is one part of the BeltLine where transit would diverge from the multi-use trail. The trail would spur more north and east than the loop, the current planned location for transit.
The area where transit would be built is near still active rail lines and the BeltLine plans to seek an easement to allow it to build rail alongside the active tracks, Mitchell said. The multi-use trail would be built farther away for pedestrian and cyclist safety, he said.