Midtown Alliance President & CEO Kevin Green presents to a crowded room at the Midtown Alliance Annual Meeting on Feb. 19. The theme of the event, "Make Connections," emphasized that cities exist to connect individuals.
More than 1,200 people attended the 2019 Midtown Alliance Annual Meeting at the Fox Theatre on February 19 to imagine the future of one of Atlanta’s fastest-growing districts. Here are some highlights from the event:
Board Chair Describes Midtown’s Winning Ways
Arriving to the podium on an e-scooter to open the meeting, Midtown Alliance Board Chair Mark Toro discussed the importance of human connection in the rapidly growing district that has seen 16 new buildings open their doors in the past 12 months, with another 15 currently under construction. On average - assuming full occupancy of recently-opened residential buildings - some 100 new residents are moving into Midtown every week. And over the past four years, more than 20K new jobs have been announced for Midtown by way of expansion or relocation.
“Midtown is winning—with investment, community and creating that place, promoting that human interaction,” said Toro, whose team at North American Properties is leading a major, multi-year renovation at Colony Square.
Opening Soon in Midtown: Largest Whole Foods Store in the Southeast
Bobby Turner, South Region President for Whole Foods Market and Midtown resident, gave remarks on why Midtown is the location of choice for his team’s new regional headquarters and for Whole Foods’ largest store in the southeastern US. Turner said the 70K sf store opening April 5 at 14th and West Peachtree Streets will be one of the biggest connection hubs for the Midtown community, complete with a rooftop terrace and programming for everything from yoga to movie nights.
Midtown Alliance President and CEO: “You get the city you choose to build.”
Surfing onstage via a OneWheel motorized skateboard, Midtown Alliance president and CEO Kevin Green discussed the importance of creating a “wow” reaction in the way people experience every facet of their urban surroundings.
“You get the city you choose to build,” said Green, whose presentation addressed some of the challenges that come with fast-growing urban districts. The latest among these challenges? Coming to grips with the arrival of new mobility options that have both fascinated and frustrated our City. Green shared this “then and now” mashup describing how what is old might be new again:
Demand for access to the curb is quickly becoming the next battlefront in the urban core of Atlanta, due in part to the rapid convergence of technology and gig economy deliveries. Effective curb management is a present day need in Midtown to make the transportation network perform at its best. At the same time, the goals for Midtown streets continue to change as the district fills in with new buildings and new people. In his remarks, Green talked about how 8% of the 63 lane miles that make up Midtown’s street grid could be converted to offer more options for people traveling by bike and other modes … without adversely affecting motor vehicle traffic.
Publicly-accessible space is at a premium in Midtown, but there are opportunities hidden in plain sight to rejuvenate existing spaces. New concepts in development shared at the event include enhancements at MARTA’s Arts Center Station, a potential reshaping of the Margaret Mitchell front yard at the corner of 10th and Peachtree Streets, the Art Walk - where one segment is already completed alongside the new AC/Moxy dual-brand hotel - and creating a parklet near the historic Commercial Row buildings off Peachtree Place.
Following on the success of the improved Midtown MARTA Station, the West Peachtree side of Arts Center Station is next in line for creative uprades. Existing conditions (top) lack adequate seating and greenspace. The rendering (below) shows how color and creative hardscaping can encourage public engagement.
Director of Urban Design Recognizes Two Developments for Excellence in Design
Midtown Alliance’s Ginny Kennedy, one of the organization’s longest-tenured staffers who has been involved with carrying out Midtown’s community master plan since its origin, acknowledged the efforts of the volunteers that make up Midtown’s Development Review Committee. All told, the group has reviewed 131 major development projects over the past 10 years.
Two developments were recognized at the event for excellence in design by Midtown Alliance.
Flooring manufacturer Interface’s new Midtown HQ (“Base Camp”) wears their commitment to sustainability best practices on their façade. Interface CEO Jay Gould champions flexible work space and leads by example with a sectional sofa instead of a big office. He also rides transit to work.These firms led the adaptive reuse project:
- Developer & Owner: Parkside Partners, Interface, Inc.
- Architect: Perkins+Will, MSTSD
- Contractor: Integra, Choate Construction
Located a stone's throw from the annual meeting venue, luxury residential tower lilli Midtown packs a punch on a postage stamp lot less than 1/3 of an acre in size. JPX Works delivered a vertical village that maximizes the site without adding any new parking. The developer cleverly secured resident parking spaces in the underutilized deck next door. These firms teamed up to deliver the project:
- Developer & Owner: JPX Works, LLC, Mariner Group, Ltd., ELV Associates
- Architect: ODA Architecture, MSTSD, RGA
- Contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie
Keynote: Gabe Klein Offers Insight into the Future of Transportation
Drawing on his experience leading transportation in both the public and private sectors, CityFi’s Gabe Klein observed that the future of mobility and infrastructure should not be solely about technological advances.
“Let’s design around people, first and foremost,” said Klein. “Let’s make sure that we’re doing good for human beings. Let’s realize that the goals have changed.”
Addressing factors influencing transportation today that span from new marketing models abroad to tackling climate change as a global imperative, Klein noted that transportation as we know it is continuing to change rapidly.
Said Klein about the continuing shift from fossil fuels to alternatives, “If it’s not electric, then why are we doing it?” He also described how European countries are rolling out “transportation as a service” offerings that create a subscription model for how people choose transportation options that work for them, parallel to how we think about our consumption of streaming video services. These and other interventions are on the way to America in the future. The question is, what are we doing now to prepare?
How to Get Your Photos from the Event:
Were you a guest at the event? Did you get your picture taken upstairs in front of the step-and-repeat banner in the Egyptian Ballroom? View, download and share your images here.
View the 2018 Midtown Alliance Progress Report
From skyline to street level, learn more about the impact of Midtown Alliance and its partners by viewing our 2018 progress report, available now online at MidtownATL2018.com.