Midtown Atlanta: Privatized Planning in an Urban Neighborhood
Fowler, David Phillip
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This paper covers the planning process in the Midtown neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia. Midtown is an urban neighborhood with high concentrations of office and residential development, both new and old. Recently, after a prolonged period of decline, Midtown witnessed an impressive wave of new development. The business community, working through the Midtown Alliance, its primary association, has reacted to this renewed interest by initiating a number of planning efforts. These efforts are intended to work towards a goal of creating a functionally-integrated and walkable, mixed-use urban community. While the business sectorâ s efforts have included impressive applications of recent new urbanist concepts, several issues arise when one analyzes the implications of their plans. The foremost problem is the Allianceâ s concentration solely upon the section of Midtown that the neighborhoodâ s major interests dominate, thereby geographically limiting the scope of all planning-related improvements. Resultantly, the residential sections of Midtown will not receive the enhancements and development controls designed to benefit the areaâ s major business districts. In addition to the issues resulting from the territorial limitation, Midtown residents are also concerned the Allianceâ s planning efforts may cause permanent changes in Midtown outside the Allianceâ s core area. These concerns include escalating property values, the shifting of crime to residential areas and the loss of traditional neighborhood characteristics. Analysis of the local planning process indicates the emergence of a privatized planning mechanism that has the potential to affect the equity of municipal service delivery within Midtown and the city as a whole.