On June 23rd, I was excited to attend a roundtable discussion about Economic Development & Parks focusing on “park-oriented development” hosted by Park Pride. Park Pride is a non-profit organization local to Atlanta that works with communities to improve their parks. Collectively, the leadership and members of Park Pride are advocates, visionaries, and volunteers who work to activate the power of parks. As with all Park Pride events, I left inspired with design and theory tidbits to bring back and integrate into our own projects at Foresite Group.
This day’s panel included developers and a designer who have seen the economic benefit of including public greenspace within their projects. These privately owned, publicly accessible parks create opportunities for human energy to flourish and improve the surrounding developments. You may remember a recent blog post from our Greenspace & Land Design Division Director about this very topic!
Two of the panelists, Katharine Kelley (Green Street Properties) and Bob Hughes (HGOR) discussed the Glenwood Park community in Southeast Atlanta. Glenwood Park is a mixed-use development, including condominiums, townhomes, restaurants, office and retail uses that covers over 50-acres. Glenwood’s streets are laid out at a walkable scale and highlights include several “pocket parks” and a central Glenwood Park with a pond/fountain, open lawn, and a playground. As the developer, Ms. Kelley was able to discuss the increase in home values of units facing the parks compared with those that face away from parks. Bob Hughes, one of the designers, discussed the site infrastructure, including the pond and park serving double-duty as an aesthetic amenity and stormwater detention workhorse. Mr. Hughes also highlighted their work designing City Place in Buckhead. The initial requirements for the project area treated the site as a single block and restricted flexibility and use of the space. Through insightful planning and economic evaluation, the final plan includes greenspace that adds an amenity while providing the necessary stormwater detention above-ground.
The City Place project facilitated discussion of old-school vs. new-school theories on how developments should meet certain requirements for green space and multi-modal transportation. For example, if a new residential building is directly adjacent to Central Park in New York City, it would be impractical to require that the independent property include a large section of greenspace. Smart cities are seeing that developments need to facilitate and accommodate connections to public and private greenspaces and transportation options, but may not necessarily include those elements within the confines of their property lines
The final panelist was Mark Toro from North American Properties. His focus and priorities in developments like Atlantic Station and Avalon is to create inviting areas for human energy – creating a “place to be”. Avalon, a 86-acre development in a north suburb of Atlanta includes small park areas within their office and residential areas. On any given day, you’ll find families playing Bocce and friends enjoying drinks together out in the sunshine.
As a great takeaway, the Panelist discussed the 3 areas of life: There is work. There is home. There is public space, enjoyed.
About Foresite Group
Foresite Group is a multidisciplinary engineering, planning, and consulting firm providing services to public and private sector clients nationwide. Our team’s collaborative process results in creative products and services that help our clients achieve their goals. Our team takes pride in enhancing and developing the cities and communities where we live, work, and raise our families.