At the end of October, the Uptown Consortium (UCI) and its partners visited the innovation district in Atlanta to discuss successes and opportunities for the Uptown Innovation Corridor. UCI’s peer, the Midtown Alliance, shared unique insights about the planning and development of Midtown Atlanta, a vibrant, urban innovation hub located north of Atlanta’s downtown business district. Below are five key takeaways from UCI’s discussion that will influence the Uptown Innovation Corridor development:
1. Their counsel: Retain current talent
Retaining current talent creates both neighborhood and corporate stability. We saw an example of this in Georgia Tech’s Tech Square, located in Midtown Atlanta. In 2016, Georgia Tech undergraduates had a $2.87 billion impact on Georgia’s economy and 86 percent of undergraduates graduated with job offers.
Our work: UCI works closely with its member organizations and WEB Ventures, its economic inclusion consultant, to create retention programs for students, minorities and Uptown residents with the hopes of garnering similar results.
2. Their counsel: Activate the streets
Active streets create a welcoming setting for residents, employees and visitors in the area. When executed correctly, a mixed-use development should target uses that activate streetscapes in an urban environment.
Our work: Recently, UCI worked with Sasaki, a world-class urban design firm, to create a plan that includes great streets in the Uptown Innovation Corridor’s development principles.
3. Their counsel: Balance density
Attention to proper “rhythms” in density stabilizes street and traffic congestion to make the space pedestrian friendly. There are several areas within the district that managed density well and other areas that did not. Midtown Alliance’s guidance was to prioritize balancing density in the early stages of development.
Our work: UCI has included density concerns in its planning, so that the Uptown Innovation Corridor is a vibrant, complete place at each phase of development.
4. Their counsel: Prioritize transportation connectivity
Connectivity is crucial in a commercial development. Midtown Atlanta established access to four MARTA stations, Atlanta’s passenger train, in its innovation district. This allows visitors to use public transit to arrive in Midtown from the Greater Atlanta area. Midtown also includes an abundance of parking structures and access to the Amtrak on the area’s northern border.
Our work: Fortunately, UCI and its partners prioritized the new I-71 MLK interchange for our own urban district. Additionally, development plans include plenty of parking—and UCI is working with the City, Metro and other institutions to ensure access to public transportation throughout Uptown.
5. Their counsel: Weave in public art
Incorporating public art within green spaces and streetscapes encourages both community and collaboration in the area. Midtown is home to the largest concentration of arts facilities and organizations in the Southeast with 25 different arts and cultural venues, more than 30 permanent performing arts groups and 22 various entertainment facilities. This intensified the need for a robust public art program in Midtown.
Our work: UCI’s plans integrate public art, as sculptures and other pieces, that incorporate the development’s focus on creativity as well as the neighborhoods’ history.