Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the Great Places in America program? >>>

Great Places in America is the flagship program of the American Planning Association (APA) that celebrates places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Places are selected annually and represent the gold standard in terms of having a true sense of place, cultural and historic interest, community involvement, and a vision for tomorrow – and most importantly, a legacy of planning.

Launched in 2007, APA has designated 260 neighborhoods, streets, public spaces. Prior honorees in Georgia have included:

  • Savannah's Victorian District (2014)
  • Downtown Decatur (2013)
  • Ansley Park (2011)

This year, 15 designees were selected across the three categories to ensure a greater focus on each location, and to more extensively celebrate and acknowledge the characteristics of each unique place that contribute to creating communities of lasting value.

Midtown Atlanta is one of only five neighborhoods nationally to be named to APA's 2016 list of Great Places in America. Joining Midtown Atlanta in the 2016 Great Neighborhoods category are:

  • Downtown Santa Ana – Santa Ana, California
  • Old Louisville – Louisville, Kentucky
  • Nob Hill – Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Downtown Warren – Warren, Rhode Island

What makes a place great? What type of research is done to vet a Great Place nominee?

APA has a list of guidelines that focus on important principles. For the Great Neighborhoods category, some of the criteria include:

  • Balancing the competing needs of different users; offering options for all residents of the community, regardless of age, preferred mode of transportation and provide a mixture of uses and services.
  • Showcases local architecture, landscaping, and urban design, and stand out from the norm.  
  • Great places may serve as important local economic drivers.
  • Great places encourage social activity by serving as the host of events, community programs, festivals, and more.
  • Great places reflect the local culture and history of the greater community.
  • Great places often employ green infrastructure to promote sustainability.

These guidelines are considered in addition to other important local factors such as geography, population, demographics, and setting (urban, suburban, rural).

How were these Great Places selected? >>>

Nominations for Great Places are received from APA members, staff, professionals with experience in the planning field, and the general public.

Nominations then go through a rigorous review process by a committee of APA leaders who are professional planners to determine this year’s designees. APA gathers input and research from a number of sources including our local APA members, media outlets, local planning outlets, videos and historical information.

How many submissions did APA receive this year? >>>

There are many thousands of Great Places in the U.S. that are eligible for this designation. This year APA took an in-depth look at submissions from more than 24 states.

Who nominated our Great Place? >>>

APA receives nominations from a number of sources including the public, members of APA, planners, or even someone who has a favorite travel destination. They make it a practice to maintain the privacy of the nominator.

How does planning create the conditions for our Great Place? >>>

Planning does not have a start and end point. It is an ongoing process. The purpose of creating a plan is to help encourage the community to think about where it stands today, and what it wants to be in the future.

What types of planning initiatives exist in Midtown Atlanta? >>>

Working with policy partners and with input from the community, Midtown Alliance has developed a comprehensive and interrelated set of plans that guide land use, transportation, sustainability and more. Learn more about this work here.