About

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This streetscape in Grant Park is built to the specifications of the SPI-22 zoning district, which was created out of the planning process for the previous Memorial-MLK LCI plan. 

Memorial Drive connects many of the city’s most important historical and cultural institutions and neighborhoods. Decades of planning and investment, both public and private, have laid the foundation for what can become the most distinctive urban corridor in the City. Memorial Drive Atlanta aims to realize this potential through its work on the following areas:

Movement: Making the Memorial Drive corridor an inviting public space that serves as a safer and more efficient connection among communities for all people, including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users

  • Identifying opportunities for Memorial Drive to be a leading example for Context-Sensitive Solutions, Complete Streets, and other innovative practices in the state, city, and regional transportation.
  • Adding and improving sidewalks, crosswalks, and other infrastructure for people who walk, ride transit, and have limited mobility
  • Building and improving the City’s bicycle network to offer safer routes through the communities and access to amenities on Memorial Drive.
  • Supporting and planning for existing and future transit, including potential Atlanta Streetcar/BeltLine alignments and MARTA I-20 East Bus Rapid Transit.

Investment: Promoting adaptive reuse and new construction that offers a mix of housing, jobs, amenities, and gathering places for existing and future residents and visitors

  • Supporting development that promotes street-level activity, walkability, mixed uses, and public spaces to create a strong sense of place
  • Conceiving common urban design standards that create a consistent character and streetscapes through diverse neighborhoods
  • Promoting shared parking and other ways to accommodate cars without excessive parking requirements for each property
  • Balancing character of existing neighborhoods with the expectation of increased density and demand for in-town living as metro Atlanta grows
  • Supporting existing neighborhood plans and priorities for growth and preservation, and working with neighborhoods on updating and revising plans where needed.

Place: Preserving and supporting the history and culture that makes Memorial Drive and its communities unique in Atlanta and the world

  • Respecting and supporting the individual character of each community along Memorial Drive
  • Partnering and promoting the local institutions that make Memorial Drive a unique place to live, work, and create
  • Documenting and preserving historical properties, monuments, artifacts, and stories that are unique to our part of Atlanta
  • Enabling the cultural institutions of Memorial Drive to take an active role in defining its character and communicating it to the outside world

Organization: Building the organization that will continue working for the Memorial Drive communities well into the future

  • Establishing an independent organization with sustaining funding to continue the mission of improving Memorial Drive well into the future
  • Earning a reputation locally and regionally for cooperation and coordination of diverse stakeholders on complex urban issues
  • Embracing an attitude of creativity, adaptability, and flexibility across political and cultural boundaries

What area does it cover and why?

Memorial Drive Atlanta covers the roadway and surrounding properties along 5.5 miles of Memorial Drive from Capitol Avenue in the west to the Atlanta city limit at Candler Road to the east. Most of the adjacent communities are in the City of Atlanta, with a small portion of unincorporated DeKalb County. To the west, the segment in South Downtown was excluded because it is already part of the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District. To the east, there is a clear difference in the right-of-way, roadway design, land uses, and other issues when Memorial Drive enters the City of Atlanta from unincorporated DeKalb County. Memorial Drive Atlanta was formed to address these issues.

Who is involved?

Memorial Drive is a state highway (State Route 154) operated by the Georgia Department of Transportation. When it enters the City of Atlanta at Candler Road, it connects the following neighborhoods: East Lake, Kirkwood, Parkview (unincorporated DeKalb), Edgewood, Reynoldstown, Cabbagetown, Grant Park, Oakland, and Capitol Gateway, and Downtown. These neighborhoods are represented by four NPUs: O, N, W, and V. The corridor is split between Fulton and DeKalb counties at Moreland Avenue.

After the completion of the Imagine Memorial study, Atlanta City Council Member Natalyn Archibong (District 1) passed legislation establishing three core Imagine Memorial committees: Transportation; Planning & Permitting (similar to Land Use & Zoning); and Community Improvement District (for exploring future funding and organization). The Corridor Executive serves as a member and support staff on these committees, as well as several other working groups for more specific locations and issues. He also works closely with Councilmember Carla Smith (District 1), whose district includes a western portion of the Corridor.

The membership of these committees includes representatives of all the Memorial Drive neighborhoods and relevant agencies, including the City of Atlanta, Georgia Department of Transportation, and Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. The Corridor Executive also meets regularly with a wide range of other ad hoc groups and community representatives on various issues.

Where does the funding come from?

Funding is currently provided by donations from a range of stakeholders along Memorial Drive, including property owners, real estate developers, non-profit organizations, and architecture/planning firms with projects in the area. Visit the Supporters section for more details.

The funding is administered through Capacity Inc., a special-purpose, not-for-profit corporation sponsored by and affiliated with Central Atlanta Progress (CAP). Capacity was created in 1972 and designed to qualify as a public, tax-exempt, charitable organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. CAP’s officers are the officers of Capacity and CAP’s executive committee members are the directors of Capacity.

The Corridor Executive reports to an Advisory Committee of stakeholders that include supporters, political leaders, and neighborhood representatives. It is expected that this committee will form the nucleus of a board of directors for a future independent organization. The Corridor Executive and stakeholders are actively exploring models for sustaining funding, including a Community Improvement District (CID), a Special Services District (SSD), memberships, or combinations thereof.