The Midtown Improvement District, the entity that funds public improvement projects and programs in the 1.2 square Midtown commercial core, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.
With this milestone comes a long list of completed streetscape and corridor improvements, public open space, art installations, supplemental public safety, maintenance, landscaping and other programs.
Here’s a look into Midtown Improvement District (MID) and how its strategic investments have helped transform the district over the past 20 years, and what’s next on the agenda.
What is the Midtown Improvement District?
The Midtown Improvement District (MID) is a Community Improvement District (CID) created in 2000 when Midtown commercial property pay an additional annual assessment based upon the value of their properties to fund certain programs and projects above and beyond the basic level of city-provided services.
The MID was formed soon after the completion of Blueprint Midtown, the Midtown community master plan that was created by businesses and residents in partnership with the City of Atlanta. During the Blueprint process, it became evident that Midtown would not achieve its full potential without additional investment in streetscapes, infrastructure, urban planning, public safety, landscaping and maintenance – beyond what could be reasonably expected through basic city services. To this end, the MID adds an additional layer of programs, planning and investment focused on the core of Midtown.
The MID is governed by a nine-person board of directors elected by commercial property owners, with three members appointed by the Mayor of Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council President and the City Council member for District 2. The MID has no staff — Midtown Alliance employees provide day-to-day management and operations for MID-funded programs and projects.
Midtown commercial property owners make a voluntary contribution (currently 5 mills, or 5/1000ths of 1% of assessed value) through their property taxes. This has proven to be a good investment, as the commercial property tax digest in Midtown has more than quadrupled since 2000 ($1.5B to $6.4B).
“This partnership between commercial property owners and the City of Atlanta has greatly improved infrastructure and public realm while attracting new investment,“ said Kurt Hartman, Midtown Improvement District chair. “The MID's focus has always been to make Midtown a clean, safe and inviting place. While there's more work to do, you can walk down almost any block and see the positive impact of the MID’s investments."
By law, residential properties are exempt from contributing to the Midtown Improvement District or any other CID in Georgia. This includes apartments, student housing and owner-occupied condos/townhomes, etc. However, all Midtown residents benefit from the MID’s programs and projects.
Some of the MID's Significant Accomplishments Since 2000:
miles of streetscapes that include wide sidewalks, street trees and tree wells, benches, bike racks, lighting and more.
miles of bike facilities, with another 11 miles underway.
sq ft of permanent public open space combined at 15th Streets Arts District Plaza and Ponce Triangle Park.
sidewalk repairs to date to fix broken segments and upgrade ADA ramps.
traffic signals and equipment upgraded, optimized and actively managed through a partnership with GDOT/City of Atlanta.
Plaza enhancements at MARTA’s Arts Center and Midtown stations, featuring murals, seating, landscaping, lighting and more.
combined weekly hours of supplemental public safety patrolling in the district via Midtown Blue public safety officers and off-duty APD officers.
hi-def video cameras now covering 90% of the public right of way.
linear miles of public right of way maintained by Midtown Green crews, and more than 40 acres of active landscaping.
street trees maintained throughout the district by Midtown Alliance, with approximately half having been planted by our organization and the other half having been planted by commercial property owners.
wayfinding signs installed.
Dozens of public art collaborations, both permanent and temporary, from Rockspinner and Autoeater to the annual Parliament of Owls lantern parade, projects with the High Museum of Art’s artists in residence, and more than 200 hours of live musical performances annually via the MARTA Artbound program.
Read more about these and many other recent achievements in our 2019 Progress Report.
Next Up for Midtown
"It’s not hard to envision the kind of environment where people want to live and work,“ said Don Childress, who chaired the Midtown Improvement District from its inception to 2016. “What is challenging is making that vision a reality. The MID is important because of its 20-year track record for getting things done. And in the years ahead, we need to keep pushing to make Midtown the best it can be."
Example of what the quick-build bike facility on Spring and West Peachtree Streets could look like.
Midtown Alliance staff and Midtown Improvement District leadership are currently advancing public improvement projects with an estimated value of almost $50M, with funds coming from the MID, the City of Atlanta, Georgia Department of Transportation, the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and private partners.
Some of the next projects expected to break ground include:
- West Peachtree and Spring Street Complete Streets: Midtown Alliance is working with the City to design and implement near-term safety improvements that include a protected bike lane for these corridors, with Spring Street under construction this Summer.
- Juniper Street and Piedmont Avenue Complete Streets: This $8.7M project spans 12 blocks between 14th Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue and will deliver a protected bike lane and improved pedestrian amenities, under construction later this year.
- Art Walk: This pedestrian promenade, shared street and linear park between the Midtown and Arts Center MARTA Stations will deliver a highly visual and interactive urban experience with numerous art installations, with Phase 1 , under construction later this year.
Stay up to date with what’s happening in Midtown by subscribing to our newsletter.