Six Recognized as Developments of Excellence

Atlanta Regional Commission, Livable Communities Coalition Bestow Honor for 14th Year

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and the Livable Communities Coalition (LCC) recognized five of the region’s most innovative developments and one “Great Place” with the 2012 Developments of Excellence Awards. The winners, announced at ARC’s annual State of the Region Breakfast on Friday, October 12, were:

  • Historic Fourth Ward Park, Development of Excellence
  • Downtown Decatur, Great Place
  • Norcross Town Center, Livable Centers Initiative Achievement Award
  • College Park Gateway Center, Exceptional Merit for Public-Private Partnership
  • Ivy Hall Cultural Arts & Writing Center, Exceptional Merit for Historic Preservation
  • Emory Point, Exceptional Merit for Infill Development

The Developments of Excellence awards, presented annually by ARC and LCC, recognize developments in the 10-county Atlanta region that exemplify cutting-edge, livable designs helping to create a positive framework for future development. The Great Place is given to a place in metro Atlanta that represents livability and sustainability, but is not necessarily a single, private development.

“We are proud to recognize developers, local governments and non-profit organizations that change the way people and businesses in the Atlanta region interact,” said ARC Chairman Tad Leithead. “These projects and their success show us that metro Atlantans want to create a better region for themselves and for the residents of the future.”

Photos of winners accepting their awards, as well as the video presentations shown for each award, are available on ARC’s State of the Region Breakfast webpage.

2012 Development of Excellence

Historic Fourth Ward Park

Historic Fourth Ward Park’s natural beauty and appealing public spaces belie the fact that it is a large, complex civil engineering and infrastructure project. Built on 17 neglected acres of mostly contaminated soil and invasive plants, the park’s centerpiece is a stormwater retention pond that reduces neighborhood flooding, relieves local sewer systems and features a fountain through which stormwater enters the pond. The park boasts a skate park designed by the local skating community and an amphitheater for formal performances or informal gatherings. The park also preserves and maintains the environmental quality of the surrounding community and is located on the Atlanta BeltLine trail system, adjacent to a variety of housing types–including significant new multi-family residential development–as well as the Ponce City Market redevelopment project. This award was presented to a diverse partnership that included the City of Atlanta Departments of Watershed Management and Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs; Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership; the Trust for Public Land; and the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy.

Great Place

Downtown Decatur

Besides committed leaders, engaged businesses and active residents, all great places have one thing in common: a long-term commitment to a vision for what they want to be. The City of Decatur made that commitment in the 1980s, and has been creating and perfecting its vision ever since. From a historic courthouse renovated into a meeting space and reception hall, to a mix of shopping, recreation, entertainment, dining and services, Decatur offers something for everyone. And it presents these offerings in a walkable, transit-connected downtown. Residents can walk and bike just about anywhere they want to go to enjoy Decatur’s quality schools, active night life and variety of housing options for the city’s young and old alike.

Livable Centers Initiative Achievement Award

Norcross Town Center

Few communities have done more with their Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) funds than the City of Norcross has since receiving its first LCI grant in 2001, with a vision of transforming its underutilized downtown into a walkable, livable community. One of the city’s first steps was to appoint a citizens’ Architectural Review Board and a Design Concept District to encourage design consistency and develop a unified plan for downtown. In recent years, the city converted an old church into a Cultural Arts and Community Center and turned a worn baseball field into a public space–Lillian Webb Park–for concerts, events and public gatherings. Currently, sidewalks and bike facilities around downtown Norcross are being improved as well.

Exceptional Merit for Public-Private Partnership

College Park Gateway Center

With its origins as a railroad hub, transportation and logistics have always flowed through metro Atlanta’s veins. It’s fitting that the City of College Park and its Business & Industrial Development Authority, Grove Street Partners and the City of Atlanta Department of Aviation created an innovative stop along the ATL SkyTrain, which delivers travelers from the airport to its new rental car facilities. Gateway Center opens growth opportunities for the surrounding hospitality industry by providing new meeting, dining and lodging options. The infill development provides multi-modal connections for local businesses and residents with minimal impacts to the environment and leverages one of the Atlanta region’s most valuable economic resources, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, to create future economic opportunities.

Exceptional Merit for Historic Preservation

Ivy Hall Cultural Arts and Writing Center

Ivy Hall was constructed in 1883 by the grandson of one of Atlanta’s founding fathers. Vacated in 1970, the house was converted into a restaurant, but then abandoned again. In 2005, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) bought the property and completely restored the 4,300 square-foot mansion, including all interior and exterior detailing. Open to SCAD students and the public since 2008, Ivy Hall hosts a variety of events. It also serves as a gracious guest house for visiting scholars, classroom space for SCAD’s writing degree programs, a resource and event space for the community, and as a monument to Atlanta’s past as well as the importance of preserving the region’s history.

Exceptional Merit for Infill Development

Emory Point

Emory Point is the first new retail project built in the Emory University area in the last 20 years and is also the first partnership between Atlanta-based companies Cousins Properties and Gables Residential. Located on Clifton Road adjacent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a stone’s throw from Emory University, phase one of Emory Point features 443 EarthCraft-certified luxury apartments. The development will feature 80,000 square feet of retail and dining space, most of which is scheduled to open this year. Emory Point also includes a one-acre park, 25 acres of protected woodlands, a rainwater capture system, drought-resistant landscaping and electric vehicle charging stations, all accessible to nearby employers by foot, bike, car and transit.

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