I have always considered myself a Midtown guy. Part of this, I suppose, is because I went to Ga Tech and when I first moved into the city from my suburban home Midtown is where I moved, but considering I have explored other neighborhoods and always returned to Midtown I suppose there is more to it than that. I love the vibe, the great stores and restaurants, the people I have met, and I really love being able to walk everywhere, particularly to Piedmont Park. Atlanta is city of neighborhoods, each presenting their own brand and Midtown is the brand I most identify with. It is just my personal preference.
Having outgrown my current residence I have recently found myself looking at places to move in the city and, for the reasons just named, Midtown seems the logical choice. It is an area I know well and that feels like home, but I also kind of want to branch out a bit and explore other parts of the city. I want the convenience, familiarity, and walkability of Midtown, but wouldn’t mind some new site, people to meet, and brands to engage. At heart I am an explorer, but I also like my routines and comfort – I want my cake and I want to eat it too!
The Atlanta BeltLine has transformed the city in many ways. I could go on and on about how much I love the art installations, the sight of people getting out and being fit, the businesses and parks that have popped up and are planned for along the Beltline, etc. and perhaps I will in another post. For now though I want to focus on how the BeltLine is, for me, allowing me to rethink the disconnect between neighborhoods and has broadened my options on where I could potentially live. Both of these are huge for the city(and for me personally).
As previously mentioned, Midtown is my comfort zone and, in many ways, my home. This is where the pups and I do our roaming and nearly all that I do is in or close to Midtown – I hate to drive unless I have to. I identify with the brand(s) of Midtown and I don’t see that changing. What has changed though is that the BeltLine has connected neighborhoods like Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, and whatever you call some of the spots in between to Midtown in such a way so that you don’t have to live in Midtown proper and still be connected. It has removed a lot of the disconnection I previously would have associated with living in other areas of town and replaced it with options to still do the things I enjoy in Midtown while being able to explore other parts of the city connected through the BeltLine. I can now have my cake and eat it to.
This past Saturday I walked from my condo (located near the interstate) to Inman Park in about 40 minutes or so which, for me, is an easy walk. Had I been on bike and in a hurry this could have been achieved much quicker but I was enjoying the art, sights, and sounds along the way. One of the sights one can’t help but notice is the development of large apartment complexes, retail, and homes in areas I would have never considered “my hood” previously, but now can. That is huge. That means that entire pockets of the city are now considered desirable for people like myself who look at engaging the BeltLine as an opportunity to expand into new areas of the city. The BeltLine itself has become a destination and is doing a great job of branding itself a desirable one.
I guess Atlanta shall see how the development of Ponce City Market and other plans impact the BeltLine, what business and clientele are attracted to these developments, what it does to traffic, and how the infrastructure of the Atlanta BeltLine evolves to accommodate this growth, but so far I am buying into the big picture. There are plans for expansion of the BeltLine to include light rail, additional paths, additional parks, and other aspects to attract people and businesses which, if done correctly, could change the way we as a city move, shop, and stay fit. The Beltline will become a lifestyle for many and, if branded and developed correctly, a real gem for the city. This is a chance to connect the city in a way that we have never seen before and I am going to actively engage in this development, taking advantage of what is currently offered and supporting what comes next. The BeltLine, if executed correctly, is a game changer for the city, one that I am very excited to support!