Neighbors, businesses reject MARTA’s latest Five Points development plan

MARTA’s latest redevelopment plan is receiving pushback from those who live and work in downtown Atlanta.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:56 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Five Points MARTA station by Underground Atlanta is the transit system’s biggest and busiest station.

In addition to being a major hub for light rail, the Five Points station also serves 10 bus routes.

Now, the station is set for a major re-development.

MARTA CEO and General Manager Collie Greenwood said he’d like to see construction start by August in a March MARTA Board meeting.

However, MARTA’s latest redevelopment plan is receiving pushback from those who live and work in downtown Atlanta.

Atlanta News First acquired letters sent by the Downtown Atlanta Neighborhood Association and Central Atlanta Progress rejecting the current redevelopment plan.

“The purpose of this letter is to make our position clear; we are not supportive of the design that is currently being circulated,” wrote A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress, an association of businesses representing interests of downtown Atlanta.

Among Robinson’s concerns was the ongoing maintenance of the station. He also questioned the design of the bus system potentially impeding pedestrian traffic.

“The current design includes eight on-street bus bays, creating a pedestrian fortress around the station on Alabama Street and Forsyth Street,” Robinson wrote, in the letter dated March 7.

Neighbors in downtown Atlanta expressed similar concerns with the current development plan.

“We share issues that have been brought up by several stakeholders with the project cost, pedestrian experience, and lack of transparency in community feedback and metrics to define the benefits of the latest design of the street level of the station,” wrote Downtown Atlanta Neighborhood Association (ADNA) President Robyn Jackson.

The association also fears the transit system is rushing the process to accommodate the World Cup coming to Atlanta in 2026.

“By all means let’s make some tactical updates, it could definitely use it. But let’s get the vision right that is going to last 50 to 100 years,” said ADNA board member John von Hollen, ADNA board member.

MARTA presented its latest development plan at a board meeting on March 9.

In a letter to Atlanta City Councilmembers representing downtown Atlanta, a MARTA spokesperson wrote,

“We feel that Design Concept 9A Scheme 3 provides the best balance between the various interests and priorities of providing transit service and the other needs of our downtown neighbors and other stakeholders,” wrote Greenwood.

The project organizer said March 9 they are listening to community interests and will continue to do so as the development plan nears the start of construction.

Greenwood said in a letter MARTA’s public engagement consultant, The Hummingbird Firm, has engaged 2,012 stakeholders, riders, and visitors through Dec. 9. Greenwood said MARTA has received nearly 700 comments surrounding this project.

“There’s the added benefit coming in on time and meeting the World Cup right where it is,” said Greenwood, during the March 9 meeting. “And that’s not the reason for this design. This design stands well on its alone, but this sure is an added benefit to get it in on time at that point,” Greenwood said.