Reed announces plans for city’s largest park; streetcar expansion

Mayor Kasim Reed announced plans Wednesday to expand the Atlanta Streetcar and build what will become the city’s largest public park.

Speaking at the annual State of the City business breakfast, Reed said the city is taking the “first steps” to connect the Atlanta Streetcar’s downtown track eastward by three-quarters of a mile, ultimately connecting the rail line with the Beltline trail.

» MAP: Compare the proposed new greenspace with other Atlanta parks

The mayor did not say how the expansion to the streetcar, which cost $96 million in its first phase, would be funded.

Plans for the streetcar to connect to the Beltline’s eventual 22-mile loop of parks and trails have long been in the works, but many are skeptical it will become reality because of lack of funding.

With the planned expansion, Reed said, “we will connect two transformational developments and make clear our vision for transit and mobility in Atlanta.”

Reed first announced plans to turn an abandoned quarry site on Atlanta’s west side into a water reservoir. Now, Reed said Wednesday, the Bellwood Quarry will be surrounded by a greenspace larger than Piedmont Park in Midtown.

The news comes amid a boom in construction on Atlanta’s west side, spurred in part by the new $1.4 billion Falcons stadium and environmental revitalization efforts.

The city formed a public-private partnership with a development group known as the Emerald Corridor in recent years to clean up long-polluted Proctor Creek. The nonprofit Trust for Public Land is working in tandem to build trails alongside the creek. As a result, development is on the rise in this struggling part of town.

Reed also said his administration will introduce legislation in coming weeks for equal pay for all female city employees.

And he called for the city to pursue greater foreign-investment, noting “your city is among the top ten in the U.S. for foreign direct investment.”