All Posts Tagged Tag: ‘Urban Planning’

  • APJ on Sustainability – 9.18.12

    “So, what would you say you do here?” – Bob from “Office Space.”

    If you’re like me, you look around our burgeoning city and notice that we don’t really have a good answer to that question.  Should we be a smart city?  Pivoting to create a Smart City by Fast Company – – Or, maybe we should become a Blue Zone – Or, is status quo okay with everyone? Or, have I not been clued in to Atlanta’s driving purpose.

    The debate the emerged from the July 31st transportation referendum was rather informative.  It led me to two conclusions.  One, we need some major changes in this region.  And two, we can’t agree on all of them and certainly not all at once.  I promote that Atlanta needs to pivot and should start acting like a Smart City.  From another Fast.Co – – let’s do more small projects that have a chance for scalability, but won’t drown the city if they fail.

    Tell us about some project’s you want to see happen and maybe we’ll go get them done.

  • We Built This City on Eth-nic Foooooooood!


    So Brookhaven’s a city.

    And now I live in the suburbs again. Dang it.

    Oh well.

    Now it’s time to see how a city is built. I have a few friends and neighbors who were heavily involved in the creation of the new city and I will be working with them over the next few months to figure out how this whole shin-dig is going to play out.

    I see from the BrookhavenYes site, that the city begins operation on December 17th of this year. Presumably there is a ton of work to be done when trying to create a new government from scratch.

    Between now and then, I have a few questions that I would like to have addressed:

    What about the budget? Who makes it? Who approves it? How is it balanced?

    What about taxes? I’m told that they will be low (3.35 mils), but why do we think we can run a government with lower tax revenue than any other government?

    What about the big three? Atlanta’s three biggest problems are transportation, water, and education. What are we doing as a new city to address those?

    Where will town hall be? Where will any of the Brookhaven government buildings be?

    What is the election structure? Who are we electing and when do we elect them to plan this party?

    When do all these new policemen start patrolling?

    What about zoning? I’m familiar with the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District and its zoning requirements, but what will this new animal want in new developments?

    A decent resource for new residents of Brookhaven

    While you ponder those vexing queries, here are a few resources for you to conduct your own research.

    Brookhaven Yes FAQs

    Brookhaven Map

    Google Map of Brookhaven

    Brookhaven Yes Board (J Max Davis seems to have all the quotes)

    Brookhaven’s Wikipedia Page

    AJC article on the challenges facing the new city


    What do you think about the new city? Are you optimistic, pessimistic, legalistic, masochistic? Do you have any more resources? If so, please share them in the comments.

    – Duke

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  • TSPLOST Videos

    In case you’re late to the polls today (polling ends at 7pm in most areas), here are a few more opinions via videos on TSPLOST –

  • Rounding Up TSPLOST

    I guess this is what rush hour will look like if we pass TSPLOST . . .

    As part of our ongoing discussion on the Transportation Special Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax, or TSPLOST, referendum up for vote on July 31, let’s take a minuet to dig a little deeper into these projects on the proposed list.

    We previously looked at a list of the projects proposed based on a map found at Using that map, I counted 147 projects (some of the literature claims 157, but we are cloe enough to make some generalizations) spread across 10 metro counties. I am fully admitting that I may not have ALL of the information on this referendum, but I think I have MOST of it and that should be good enough to get a general sense of what is being proposed. If anyone knows of a more comprehensive or accurate resource than the ones I have used for my data-gathering, please let me know in the comments and I can update!

    So, as we are trying to figure out whether this initiative will actually alleviate some of the traffic burdens of the metro area, let’s take a deeper look at the projects, their budgets, and noticeable trends.


    The firs thing I notice is how spread out these projects are. I was under the impression that this was an Atlanta initiative. This looks more to me like an Atlanta MSA initiative with projects in every major suburban area (except the Panthersville/SE Atlanta corridor, interestingly).

    This handy pdf from Georgia Trend shows a quick breakout of the projects by region as follows:

    North Fulton – $384,900,000

    Northeast – $898,950,000

    East – $67,300,000

    Henry County & Southeast – $213,000,000

    Clayton County & South – $313,170,000

    Southwest – $196,860,000

    Douglas & Westside – $332,860,000

    Downtown & Midtown – $601,892,477

    City of Atlanta – $134,332,592

    Dekalb Projects – $185,250,000

    Total – $3,328,515,069


    A few things that stand out when looking at these numbers.

    The City of Atlanta is getting about $740 Million. That’s about $140 Million less than Gwinnett County.

    Is anyone else surprised that the largest number is going to Gwinnett? What does that say about our transportation priorities?

    Having said that, our last post had $112 Million going toward improving MARTA, so I suppose that could be counted toward in-town funds. But that is STILL less than is being spent in Gwinnett.

    Gimme more stop lights!

    While we are on the topic, why am I paying for upgrades to MARTA? I don’t see any new branches being developed or neighborhoods being reached by our rapid transit. So why am I sending money to MARTA to update their elevators, ventilation , passenger notifications, etc? Doesn’t MARTA have it’s own budget?

    Am I paying to bail out MARTA?

    As far as the in-town stuff goes, you know I love the Beltline and think it’s a great draw for bringing people to the city.

    I notice we are fixing some bridges downtown. Hmmmm. I also notice that our road projects in town seem to be cheaper than the suburban surface road improvements. Maybe that’s because some of those suburban improvements are widenings, but it seems odd that most of our road improvements are a couple hundred thousand dollars and most of the suburban deals are a couple million.

    From my list, I counted a total of 82 projects that I opposed and 65 projects that I supported. That’s closer than I expected, but I still oppose more than I support.

    All told, we are proposing to spend approximately $2,407,040,000 in the suburbs and $1,033,475,069 in town (I am including the Dekalb and MARTA stuff as in town).

    So, in a city whose culture has been decimated by sprawl, we are proposing to fix our transportation issues by spending more than twice as much money on suburban projects as in town projects?

    Hmmmmm . . . . maybe I am missing something.


    What else did you readers notice? Any trends or special projects of interest that stood out as you were trying to wrap your head around this massive proposition?

    Now that we have gone through what is in this deal, check back this week for an analysis of whether the DOT can pull this off.

    – Duke

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  • Questions on TSPLOST

    Underground transit will cure what ails you!

    Now that we have a quick guide to the projects proposed on TSPLOST, let’s take a couple posts to answer the basic questions on TSPLOST that will help us figure out exactly what we are voting for on July 31st.

    Specifically, let’s try to answer these:

    What is it? – What projects are involved and what money is being allocated where? (This will be a follow up to our Quick Guide)

    How Realistic Is it? – Can the DOT pull this huge project off in the timeline? It doesn’t matter how cool it sounds if the DOT can’t pull it off . . .

    What specific problems will be solved? – I know we all want to Untie Atlanta. How will these projects do that?

    What happens if it doesn’t pass? – Do we sink into a traffic-choked oblivion? Can we try again next year?

    Given our future hope and dreams for the city, is this the best course of action?


    Alright. That seems like a decent road map (pun!) that should get us to a “yes” or “no.” Check back over the next week or two as we will try to answer these questions as thoroughly as possible and get some debate moving on whether TSPLOST will truly untie Atlanta traffic.

    – Duke

  • APJ Quick Guide to TSPLOST Projects


    Not sure if I want to vote “yes”

    Today I ran across the site (link is here) and I think it’s a great resource to educate yourself about the TSPLOST vote coming up on July 31st.

    It’s nice to have a quick and easy resource to show all of the projects and timing associated with this huge bill as I suspect most people are confused as to what exactly they will be voting for. My favorite part (and most educational) is the interactive map that places markers on all the projects and has brief descriptions of their timing and price.

    As I mentioned before, there is no such thing as a perfect bill. There are parts that I agree with and parts that I disagree with. And I think it is important to point out the difference between doing “something” and doing the “right thing”. I know that action makes us all feel better, but action for action’s sake is a great way to go far in the wrong direction.

    So my basic two questions for this bill are: 1) Is there more to like than dislike in this bill? and 2) Is this the right thing to do or just something to do to address our transportation issues?

    I think the answer to #1 will tell me the answer to #2. And my answer to number one is actually very easy to figure out: Would I vote to send 1 cent out of every dollar I spend to go to fixing _______________? By breaking down TSPLOST piece-by-piece I can quantify how many of the projects I support and how many I oppose. If there are more that I support than I oppose, then I’m a “yes” on TSPLOST. If not, I basically have to figure out if the Beltline and other projects I view as crucial are worth all that money I don’t want to spend on the other projects.

    And let me reiterate something I said last time.


    I don’t think that is open to debate. Atlanta will grow when people want to be here. People want to be here when they enjoy our quality of life. Our quality of life is highly tied to our ability to move in and around the city. Therefore transportation (along with water and eduction) is one of the crucial issues facing Atlanta in my lifetime. So, don’t think I underestimate the value of upgrading our transportation. And don’t think that I wish the suburban roads and transportation systems to fall into disrepair. I just want to make sure that this is the best long-term decision for our city before I throw my “yes” around.

    So, enough explaining. Here are the projects and my vote on them:


    Atlanta to Griffin Commuter Rail ($20,000,000) – No

    SR 85 Improvements in Fayetteville ($5,900,000) – No

    South Industrial Path in Fayette County ($1,210,000) – No

    South Industrial Path in Fayette County ($1,150,000) – No

    SR 85 Expansion in Fayetteville ($24,000,000) – No

    MacDuff Pkwy expansion near Peachtree City ($6,400,000) – No

    Bill Gardner Expansion in Henry Co ($27,000,000) – No

    Widening SR 92 in Fayetteville ($15,900,000) – No

    Improving SR 92 in Fayetteville ($20,000,000) – No

    Widening 23/42 in McDonough ($44,000,000) – No

    Widening SR 155 in McDonough ($48,000,000) – No

    Upgrade SR 20/81 in McDonough ($11,000,000) – No

    Widen SR 81 in McDonough ($27,000,000) – No

    Widen East Fayetteville Bypass ($14,000,000) – No

    Parallel Connector off Jonesboro Rd ($17,000,000) – No

    Widen Fayetteville Rd in Jonesboro ($40,180,000) – No

    SR 92 Connector in Fayette Co ($18,300,000) – No

    Improve interchange at SR 74 and I85 ($22,500,000) – No

    Roundabout at Hutcheson Ferry ($1,750,000) – No

    Widen SR 78 in Riverdale ($22,200,000) – No

    Redesign Tara Blvd ($102,170,000) – No

    Improve Old Milton and 400 Interchange ($1,900,000) – No

    Improve SR 92 at South Fulton Pkwy ($16,000,000) – No

    Widening SR 85 in Forest Park ($34,150,000) – Yes

    Widen Conley Rd at I285 ($28,500,000) – Yes

    MARTA at the Airport ($7,160,000) – Yes

    Widen Camp Creek Pkwy at 285 ($60,250,000) – Yes

    Replace bridge over Camp Creek Pkwy ($3,500,000) – No

    New Interchange at 285 and Greenbriar Pkwy ($36,400,000) – Yes

    Improve Campbellton Rd ($1,259,900) – No

    Improve I285 at Cascade Rd ($23,600,000) – Yes

    Regional Traffic control on I20 in Douglasville ($19,000,000) – No

    Multiuse Path in Douglasville ($2,210,000) – No

    Realign SR 92 on west side ($49,000,000) – No

    Widen Lee rd in Lithia springs ($18,900,000) – No

    Widen US 78 in Lithia Springs ($20,000,000) – No

    Improve intersections on Fulton Industrial ($7,500,000) – Yes

    Improve MLK Dr near 285 ($3,000,000) – Yes

    Improve west side 20/285 interchange ($149,000,000) – Yes

    Improve Jonesboro Rd ITP ($7,395,000) – Yes

    Improve I20 at Panola ($21,200,000) – No

    Widen Panola Rd ($30,300,000) – No

    Extend Hayden Quarry Rd in Rockdale ($27,000,000) – No

    Widen Sigman Rd in Rockdale ($30,000,000) – No

    Improve Commerce Crossing in Rockdale ($25,900,000) – No

    Widen Flat shoals Rd in Rockdale ($11,400,000) – No

    Improve Rockbridge Rd in Dekalb ($7,500,000) – No

    Improve Glenwood Rd ITP ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Improve Memorial Dr ITP ($738,750) – Yes

    Peachtree near Spring ($434,875) – Yes

    Improving Piedmont Ave ($3,604,908) – Yes

    Bridge at Courtland St ($22,000,000) – Yes

    Central Ave Bridge ($27,000,000) – Yes

    Pryor St Bridge ($32,100,000) – Yes

    MARTA Tunnel Rehab ($700,000) – Yes

    Improve Edgewood Ave ($527,667) – Yes

    Improve Auburn Ave ($643,750) – Yes

    Improve Courtland St ($750,000) – Yes

    Beltline ($165,952,132) – Yes

    Beltline Midtown to Downtown ($435,940,345) – Yes

    Donald lee Hollowell near 285 ($1,025,000) – Yes

    Improve Joseph E Lowery ITP ($1,188,750) – Yes

    Improve 14th at Howell Mill ($575,000) – Yes

    Improve Boulevard near Ponce ($1,150,000) – Yes

    Improve 10th to Monroe ($462,000) – Yes

    Improve North Ave ($457,500) – Yes

    Improve Ponce near Spring ($618,125) – Yes

    Decatur to Clifton Corridor ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Improve College Ave near Avondale Estates ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Memorial Drive near 285 ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Premium Transit form the NW to Arts Center ($695,000,000) – Yes*

    Improve Spring St near Peachtree ($1,292,125) – Yes

    River View Rd near South Cobb ($16,500,000) – Yes

    Improve Howell Mill near I-75 ($512,500) – Yes

    Improve Monroe Dr ($706,250) – Yes

    Improve N Druid Hills Corridor ($25,000,000) – Yes

    Clifton Corridor Rail Transit ($700,000,000) – Yes

    Improve Northside Dr near W paces ($525,325) – Yes

    Improve Piedmont Rd corridor ($612,000) – Yes

    Improve Peachtree from Peachtree Dunwoody to Collier ($1,713,450) – Yes

    Widen 360 in Paulding County ($30,000,000) – No

    Improve Thornton Rd in Paulding ($43,000,000) – No

    Improve S Cobb near 285 ($9,000,000) – Yes

    Widening Windy Hill ($22,999,900) – Yes

    I75 at Windy Hill ($77,000,000) – Yes

    Cobb Parkway at Windy Hill ($93,000,000) – Yes

    Windy Hill and Terrell Mill Connection ($14,000,000) – No

    Hammond Dr at 400 ($33,500,000) – Yes

    MARTA extension Sandy Springs ($37,000,000) – Yes

    285 and 400 Interchange ($450,000,000) – Yes

    Ashford Dunwoody Corridor Improvements ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Improve Mt Vernon Corridor ($12,000,000) – Yes

    400 from 285 to Spalding ($190,000,000) – Yes

    Buford Hwy & PIB alignment ($25,000,000) – Yes

    Spaghetti Junction Improvements ($53,000,000) – Yes

    Trails on Hwy 29 in Lilburn ($1,850,000) – No

    Widen Five Forks Trickum Rd in Lilburn ($10,400,000) – No

    Intersection of US 78 and Hwy 124 in Snellville ($19,100,000) – No

    Hillcrest Satellite Connector in Norcross ($19,900,000) – No

    West Liddell Connector in Norcross ($39,300,000) – No

    Cobb Pkwy and Barrett Pkwy in Kennesaw ($9,800,000) – No

    McCollum Airport ($690,000) – No

    McCollum Airport ($2,500,000) – No

    Moon Station Rd in Kennesaw ($4,500,000) – No

    Busbee Frey Connector in Kennesaw ($21,500,000) – No

    Roswell Rd Improvements in Roswell ($20,000,000) – No

    Atlanta St in Roswell ($20,400,000) – No

    Holcomb Br interchange at 400 ($48,000,000) – No

    Peachtree Pkwy and PIB in John’s Creek ($46,000,000) – No

    Pleasant Hill Widening in John’s Creek ($11,600,000) – No

    Abbotts Br widening in John’s Creek ($28,000,000) – No

    Buford Hwy Widening in Duluth ($14,000,000) – No

    Duluth Hwy widening in Lawrenceville ($38,400,000) – No

    Walther Blvd and 316 in Lawrenceville ($10,600,000) – No

    316 at Hi Hope Rd in Lawrenceville ($61,900,000) – No

    316 at US 29 in Lawrenceville ($51,000,000) – No

    Sugarloaf Pkwy Alignment in Lawrenceville ($296,000,000) – No

    316 at Harbins Rd in Lawrenceville ($23,000,000) – No

    Dacula Rd in Dacula ($10,000,000) – No

    Widening lake Acworth Dr in Acworth ($29,100,000) – No

    Rucker Rd in Alpharetta ($19,000,000) – No

    Houze Rd in Alpharetta ($18,600,000) – No

    Widening Old Milton Pkwy in Alpharetta ($37,000,000) – No

    Widening Kimball Br in Alpharetta ($21,000,000) – No

    Improve Buford hwy Corridor in Suwanee ($5,500,000) – No

    Gravel Springs and I85 Interchange ($33,300,000) – No

    Bells Ferry and Little River Br in Canton ($7,000,000) – No

    Widening Hickory Flat in Canton ($70,000,000) – No

    Widening another part of Hickory Flat in Canton ($70,000,000) – No

    Widening a third part of Hickory Flat ($50,000,000) – No

    Widening Cumming Hwy in Cumming ($40,000,000) – No

    Widening Buford Dr in Buford ($4,100,000) – No

    Widening another part of Buford Hwy ($28,000,000) – No

    Clayton County Local Bus ($100,000,000) – No

    GRTA Express ($128,000,000) – No

    Gwinnett County Bus Service ($40,000,000) – No

    I-20 East Corridor ($225,000,000) – No

    I-85 North Corridor ($95,000,000) – No

    MARTA Electric Power Rehab ($354,400,000) – Yes

    MARTA Elevators and Escalators ($118,700,000) – Yes

    MARTA Passenger Info System ($30,500,000) – Yes

    MARTA Track Rehab ($5,600,000) – Yes

    MARTA Systems Upgrade ($4,440,000) – Yes

    MARTA UTC Infrastructure ($27,200,000) – Yes

    Perimeter ITS ($1,000,000) – Yes

    Regional Mobility Project for elderly and Disabled ($17,000,000) – Yes



    Dang. 147 projects. We can get into how I voted and why a little later. For now, digest these projects a little. Go to the site and see which projects you like and don’t like.
    Educate yourself and little and then let’s chat about this.

    As a reminder, the way I determined my vote was by asking: Would I want to spend one cent of every dollar I spend on (insert project)?

    So my answers are totally subjective and some are self-serving, but I will explain all of that later. For now, just look it over and tell me your initial thoughts below.

    – Duke

    p.s. If you want to follow my list on the map, I went from South to North starting in Griffin and Left (West) to Right (East).

    p.p.s. Big thanks to the hard-working team at Untie Atlanta! This is a very cool and interesting map that should help us all make a more-informed decision.


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  • Quick Thoughts on TSPLOST

    Is TSPLOST the best solution for our traffic issues?

    Everyone seems to have an opinion, so I might as well throw my hat in the ring.

    I think I like T-SPLOST overall, but I think it may be short-sighted. I think it’s apparent that we as a city have some transportation and traffic issues. What I question is whether or not this bill is the BET solution to some of those problems.

    I was reviewing the major projects in TSPLOST in the business chronicle and I was struck by how many of them focused on suburban projects. I have no problem with the suburbs and I grew up there myself, but the opportunity cost of spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the suburbs seems enormous.

    95 out of 100 Gen Y workers (straw poll) are moving into the city limits (ITP). That’s millions of young people moving in-town as the future leaders and innovators in our city. That influx of people who live, drive, and work in-town is putting a huge strain on our aging transport and infrastructure.

    Since Atlanta is a city built around the car, it’s imperative that we pay attention and create solid programs to address people moving into the city. If millions of people move into Rome or London or Paris, no big deal. The sidewalks are a little more crowded and RE prices rise to meet demand. But those cities were built around pedestrian traffic and you won’t see the same kind of gridlock that we deal with daily. In Atlanta, just about every person moving into the city is doing so with a car. So WE HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO COMMUTES.

    For decades, Atlanta has been the poster child for urban sprawl and white-flight into the suburbs. Now that this trend is finally reversing and our best and brightest are moving back in town, why are we spending hundreds of millions of tax payers dollars on improving suburban transportation? Or, more to the point, why are we using money that we could use in-town on projects that make suburban living easier?

    Can a fella get some light-rail?

    Again, I have no problem with the suburbs and I’m from Gwinnett County. I understand that we need to maintain our transportation system. If it’s about to collapse, let’s fix it. But I would certainly rather spend $100 Million on improving our pathetic MARTA system (paint job, anyone?) than broadening some suburban freeway to six lanes. Those suburban projects are not bad projects or bad ideas, but there is only so much money to go around and every dime you spend in the suburbs is a dime you could be spending in town.

    Maybe the simplest way I could put it is:
    Why are we spending so much money on our past (sprawl) at the expense of our future (in-town transit)?

    And let me be clear on something. I am certainly not advocating that we abandon all transportation and infrastructure projects in the suburbs. The reason cities and counties have large budgets in maintenance is to keep the roadways safe and infrastructure current. If they can’t, then they need to find a way to reallocate the funds or people just need to move somewhere else. I just get bothered by the idea of Atlanta tax payers paying for Alpharetta roads. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think Alpharetta residents should pay for Alpharetta roads.

    Much like people, bills are neither completely good or completely evil. There are good parts and bad parts. I LOVE the Beltline project and think it’s a great long-term investment for our city, but there are at least a half-dozen projects on this bill that I see as superfluous and costly to in-town residents.

    So, the crux of the matter is that you have to convince me that the benefit of projects like the Beltline outweigh the superfluous spending on suburban projects. Show me why the good outweighs the bad in this particular version of the TSPLOST bill.

    I am open to being convinced . . .

    Try it.

    – Duke

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  • NAIOP 2012 Gov’t Affairs

    Just got around to reading the initiatives from NAIOP with our federal government and thought I would share them.

    (*Note* – I am a member of NAIOP and have access to this information. I assume this is public info that is worth sharing.)

    TI depreciation – A bill just expired that allowed landlords to depreciate TI expenses over 15 years instead of 39. NAIOP wants to reinstate the bill in order to save costs for building owners.

    Brownfield Remediation Expensing – Allows for expenses incurred by a developer in the cleanup of a brownfield site to be expensed immediately, allowing for advantageous taxes when income may be years off.

    Carried Interest Taxation – NAIOP opposes changes to tax treatment of carried interest that would change Capital Gains Tax from 15% to as much as 35%.

    Internet Sales Tax – States are losing billions each year in uncollected sales taxes from internet sales. NAIOP is supporting enforcement of tax law on online transactions.

    NAIOP opposes arbitrary energy efficiency requirements for buildings.

    New public-private partnerships should expand and new revenue sources should be explored to address congestion issues.

    NAIOP supports increased federal funding of port expansion to relieve congestion.

    For regulations and coding on wetland and environmentally-sensitive land, NAIOP supports a balanced approach to simplify the process for landowners and not bog down the system with over-regulation.


    Why this is Interesting –

    Seems to me like regulation and law-making have a crucial role in the future of our business. If general partners get taxed out of a deal and TIs depreciate about half as quickly, investors and owners and going to suffer. I may even go so far as to say that staying abreast of current legislative issues is a crucial tool for the aspiring commercial property professional.

    Food for thought.

    – Duke

  • Clean Slate Project: The Rules


    You should know that I hate rules.

    As soon as someone gives me a set of rules to follow I immediately set out to see instances in which it would be appropriate to break each of them. The worst feeling in the world is the feeling of chains.

    Now that we’ve dipped a toe into my psyche, let me give you some rules.

    In all seriousness, the Clean Slate Project is such a wide and far-reaching project that we could be tempted to take it in any direction. In order for the experiment to have any meaning or purpose, we need to have some general guidelines. And that is probably a better description of what these are. We don’t have to stick to these rules. I just wanted to give a few basic assumptions and generalizations on the project so that the shared vision is clear.

    You’ll see more clearly what I mean below, but I wanted to give you a heads up that there will be a few constraints on this project and they are open for discussion. Feel free to argue and debate these in the comments below.

    Without further ado, here is what we are working with:

    1. Every town has to have a town center. For the CSP, let’s assume that City Hall is the center of town.

    2. For Atlanta to still be Atlanta, I think downtown needs to be within 10 miles of the current location of downtown. That is, you can’t come in and assert that downtown should be where Macon is today because that would be a Clean Slate project for Macon, not Atlanta. So, the new city hall needs to be within a 10 mile radius of the current city hall.

    3. Let’s assume that we have today’s technology. As fun as it would be to have Jetson-style flying cars and floating buildings, it isn’t really feasible with current technology and therefore isn’t projectable. This project should be something we can realistically project and quantify. I think it will be fine to use rare technology that has crept into the market (geothermal heating, solar power, etc), but let’s be careful how far we reach into developing technology.

    4. With every decision, let’s balance past experience, current constraints, and our future hopes for the city. That way we acknowledge our past, present, and future in every decision. So you can’t just make a decision based on what is best for today. You have to consider past examples that have failed and succeeded as well as the impact of this decision on Atlanta in 50 of 100 years. What if lawmakers thought that way?

    5. Let’s always respect the experts. The experts that will be interviewed for this project will have spent lifetimes learning and honing their respective crafts. Whether it is land-use planning, shopping center development, or traffic engineering, they know their stuff. So we should trust their widsom. That doesn’t mean their opinions of this hypothetical city are unequivocally correct or beyond reproach. But let’s commit right now to respecting and trusting the opinions of experts. They wouldn’t be “experts” if they didn’t know what they were talking about.

    6. Let’s make it look cool. Let’s find a way to present and demonstrate the progress of the project online in an attractive way. That is not my expertise, so I will have to ask for help on that but it is certainly doable.

    7. Let’s remain open to change. If we screw something up, then we’ll fix it. We can’t possibly know or anticipate all of the problems or issues facing an entire metro area. No one can (sorry, Kasim Reed). So let’s just stay flexible and open to change as we build from scratch.

    8. Let’s set the bar high. While we are shooting for the best possible version of the city, let’s shoot a little higher. What would the greatest city in the world look like? How would they handle transportation issues? Where would their airport be?

    9. We need to take our time. This is a massive project with hundreds of variables and moving pieces. Let’s not rush through it and try to get to a single answer. If it takes 20 years, so be it. Let’s do it right or not at all. And doing something right usually means slowly and methodically. trying to cram all that work and thought into a single year would simply yield sloppy results.

    10. Have fun. Think of it as a journey and not a destination. Yes, we are shooting to learn something about our city and our region, but the simple process of thinking through all these projects should be fun and interesting. Seeing a blank sheet of paper through an urban planner’s eyes is fascinating to me.


    I’m sure we can figure out the rest as we go along, but that’s a start for now. Let’s use those 10 rules/assumptions/objectives to start the charge. If we need to pivot and change course as we learn, no problem (See #7).

    Have a lovely weekend.

    – Duke

    If you want to read about what the Clean Slate Project is, click here.

  • Random Thoughts for 2012


    Happy New Year!

    Hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable holiday. I have a few articles coming your way in the next week, but for now let’s start the year off right . . . let’s be a little random.

    1. If you aren’t setting your goals for this year, then I won’t feel sorry for you when your peers pass you by. Plan to go somewhere and do something. Whatever it is, just shoot for SOMETHING.

    2. Being social is expensive. If I were to rejoin ULI, NAIOP, ICSC. AYREP, and CCIM, my dues would be well over $1000 for the year. Doesn’t that seem excessive?

    3. You know who could potentially make decent money in this market? A head-hunter. Submitting resumes on SelectLeaders is a waste of time. Most hiring managers are so inundated with resumes that a new hire is almost more work than it is worth. I’m telling you, a good headhunter is worth the fee all day every day.

    4. I didn’t really learn anything new from Dave Ramsey (because I am a finance dork and didn’t need to be told what a “mutual fund” was), but I am glad I took Financial Peace University with my wife before we were married. It was good to get us both on the same page financially and it helped facilitate our necessary conversations about money. Check it out here.

    5. I just plain don’t like working out at LA Fitness. Am I the only guy who is there to actually workout? I don’t want to flirt. I don’t want to flex in front of the mirror. I don’t want to watch the scantily-clad girls do copious amounts of lunges. Just lift. You know what I need? I need the gym from Rocky. The worse it smells, the better.

    6. I’m pretty much done with Mike Bobo. He’s a nice guy and all, but how many teams have come and tried to recruit him away from the Dawgs? Thinks about that . . .

    7. This is an interesting article about an unexpected byproduct of the tepid office leasing market.

    8. Katy Perry and Russell Brand are splitting up. What a total and complete shock that is . .

    9. Ayn Rand can teach you a lot about CRE. I don’t agree with everything she says or proposes, but she and I both dig unadulterated capitalism in a big way. If you behave, then I’ll write an article about it.

    10. As a real estate guy, I love density. I think the merging of uses into a single property may be the greatest trend of our (CRE) generation. But I will never give up my car. There is something freeing about knowing I can hop in my car and go anywhere anytime I please. And driving through the city on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Fall is just a few steps away from heaven. I don’t care how dense it gets around here. You’re going to have to pry that steering wheel from my cold, dead hands.

    Happy January and Roll Tigers!

    – Duke


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