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Stitching Together a Sustainable, People-Centric Built Environment in Atlanta’s Downtown

Jacobs’ Division Vice President of Buildings and Infrastructure and Director of the Advance Planning Group Monte Wilson shared his vision for reimaging 35-acres of blighted urban space with the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Carrying more than 437,000 vehicles per day, the I-85/75 Downtown Connector provides critical access into Atlanta’s core and serves as the main transportation artery in the city, the region and the State of Georgia. During the last half-century, the connector has caused negative impacts on the urban fabric and socioeconomics of Atlanta’s downtown neighborhoods.

And that’s where The Stitch Vision Study comes in.

Jacobs has been working with the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District and Central Atlanta Progress on a plan to create a 15-acre lid over the interstate that would create a ripple effect on more than 35 acres of downtown real estate.

“The vision for the project is to literally connect the city back together again,” said Jacobs Division Vice President of Buildings and Infrastructure and Director of the Advance Planning Group Monte Wilson in a recent Atlanta Business Chronicle article (available with subscription). “This is a project that leverages access to transit, re-purposes underutilized assets, catalyzes urban regeneration and creates a cohesive central business district as well as meaningful public open space.”

Aiming to unlock economic development in the district leading to the reestablishment of a walkable, world-class destination leveraging a direct connection to downtown and midtown Atlanta, the freeway cap will also form a stronger connection to the historically underutilized Civic Center MARTA station – that could include an expansion into a multi-modal station for regional and local buses. This district of the Stitch would also be home to an expanded Emory Midtown Campus including three acres of new urban green space including water features, a restaurant and café, a pavilion space for markets and art shows and a civic heroes memorial.

The vision for the Stitch – which will include more than 13 acres of total green space – was influenced by a number of impactful public open spaces including another Jacobs-engineered project, the 5-acre Klyde Warren Park, which stretches across an eight-lane freeway connecting Dallas’s vibrant Uptown neighborhood with the Dallas Arts District and downtown.

For The Stitch, “Ensuring exemplary design and equitable development will take careful and deliberate effort involving a large number of community partners,” explained Central Atlanta Progress Vice President of Planning and Economic Development Jennifer Ball in the Atlanta Business Chronicle piece, which highlighted The Stitch’s national attention from the  Urban Land Institute’s 10-Minute Walk campaign. The projected schedule anticipates a three-year design and permitting phase to accommodate for this thoughtful planning and design work. Following design, construction is expected to take an additional five to seven years.

As Atlanta anticipates becoming one of the nation’s largest metros in the coming decades, this new front door to downtown will become a catalyst – representing potentially $3.1 billion in development – for stitching the Midtown and Downtown cores together into one CBD with a sustainable living and people-centric environment that drives value, changes the way people live and ignites real estate investment.

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