From Creative Loafing writer Matt Garbett: "There's nothing like living in a 'world-class' city. And by some accounts, Atlantans do. Attend any ground breaking or ribbon cutting or read a politico's press release and you are sure to come across the phrase. "But we need to stop referring to Atlanta as a 'world-class' city. Our focus on this meaningless phrase and the 'iconic', 'transformative', and 'catalytic' projects that we hope will thrust us into some elite group distracts us from — and often runs roughshod over — the smaller, necessary, and more rewarding local projects that create vibrant neighborhoods, the true lifeblood of any world-class city.
"The problem isn't that we want to be 'world-class.' The problem is that we aren't taking the necessary steps to achieve it. The best way to do so is by promoting more walkable blocks on a human-scale street grid; emphasizing slow, incremental, sustainable growth for vibrant neighborhoods; and actively discouraging automobile use through our street design and building codes. Instead we stress the standalone 'world-class' project without regard to its relationship to the neighborhood and overall city.
"None of this is to say that Atlanta is not a very good city. I love living here. There is an electricity in so many of the people working to make the city better in small increments, whether it's the folks behind the Beltline Lantern Parade, gloATL, Living Walls, or other organizations. Their targeted, place-making projects focus on community, not on bravado.
"So, please, strive to be a 'world-class' city, but stop worrying about where the next tourist will go. Rather, focus on the small things, following best practices, being a role model for incremental and sustainable growth. Consider selling off such large chunks of land in small, newly platted, individual parcels, and letting an area grow organically, not at the whim and design of one developer. These projects may last longer than a political cycle, but the benefits to the city are tremendous." Full post here.