Planners unveil post-Braves development vision

Aim to create denser, more walkable neighborhood in Turner Field area.

The Turner Field area — now dominated by a ballpark and lonely parking lots — could be a denser and more walkable community with a street grid much like what was lost decades ago by development of two stadiums and freeways.

That’s the vision released online in recent days, as part of a 92-page Livable Center Initiative master plan for the area after the Atlanta Braves leave.

It shows what the area could become in the decades ahead, with higher density housing, retail, office space, parks, a football stadium for Georgia State University where Turner Field now stands, and transit linking neighborhoods south of I-20 to the rest of downtown.

The study also outlines infrastructure improvements that could be candidates for funding by the Atlanta Regional Commission and other local, state or federal sources.

The draft plan will go before neighborhood planning unit meetings for approval as soon as next month. The Atlanta City Council could adopt the plan by September.

The LCI study examines parts of five neighborhoods across more than 1,300 acres. The study was launched last year as the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority moved to sell Turner Field, which will be vacated as the Braves move to Cobb County next season.

More than 1,600 residents attended community meetings over a year. The planning team also surveyed Atlanta Public Schools students.

To be achieved, the vision would likely require billions in private and public investment.

So far, Georgia State and development partners Carter and Oakwood Development are in negotiations to purchase 67-acres, including the stadium and surrounding parking lots. They plan to convert the ballpark into a Georgia State football stadium, and build student housing, market rate apartments, senior living, single-family homes and retail.

They’ve also proposed for a Panthers baseball field to go in the footprint of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and preserving the Hank Aaron home run wall.

The sale is expected to close before the end of the year.

Carter President Scott Taylor said Monday his group and Georgia State plan to incorporate many of the LCI features in the master plan.

The LCI study, performed by Perkins+Will in conjunction with the city of Atlanta, the ARC and other groups, took into account the Georgia State-Carter plans for Turner Field.

The study includes three design concepts, each including more residential offerings, office space, parks and improved street grids focused along Capitol Avenue.

The draft, if approved by council, will serve as a guidepost for future redevelopment, said Jessica Lavandier, assistant director in the city’s office of planning.

“We tried to imagine what it would be like in 20 years there,” she said. “We really want to re-knit this area and be an extension of downtown.”

Residents seemed to like a higher density than many planners or even the development team expected.

The Atlanta City Council recently approved a rezoning request to permit student housing and larger retail spaces that would allow for a full-service grocery.

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