Membership nonprofit Midtown Alliance and designers from Kimley-Horn and Snøhetta are working on a multi-phase project to revitalize nine blocks of Peachtree Street, making it safer and more accessible for cyclists, scooterists and pedestrians visiting and living in the city.
In the first of many conversations that the organization plans to host with residents of the neighborhood, architects on the project pitched their ideas to reshape Peachtree Street while giving attendees the opportunity to address concerns with the street’s current design.
Dan Hourigan, director of transportation and sustainability at Midtown Alliance, said that plans to revise Atlanta’s most iconic street are overdue, given the level of growth that Midtown has seen over the past two decades.
“Peachtree Street is not just another street that Midtown Alliance is planning for,” Hourigan said. “It’s kind of where Atlanta came to be.”
Hourigan said that the City of Atlanta will allocate nearly $5 million to fund the revamping of the Midtown section of Peachtree Street, along with an additional $5 million to transform the Downtown portion. He also said that the revisioning team aims to wrap up the project’s planning phase in the second quarter of 2024.
“We’re not going to recreate (establishments from Peachtree Street’s past), but we can create the kinds of environments that can support places that we love,” Hourigan said about the revitalization plan.
Peachtree Street has grown exponentially over the past 25 years, seeing a 423% increase in residential units, a 335% surge in retail establishments, a 205% boost in hotel rooms and an 182% rise in office space.
Eric Bishop, landscape architect at engineering consultant Kimley-Horn, said that he and the rest of the revisioning team hope to restore the “loss of humanity” brought on by Peachtree Street’s vertical development.
“These sorts of losses—they’re significant, I think,” Bishop said. “They change the way that we operate within a place. They change the way that we look for community within a space.”
Bishop proposed narrowing Peachtree Street from four lanes to three—a single lane reserved for each direction and a center lane for turning—in order to reduce the recurrence of vehicular crashes and make room for walkers and bikers to safely navigate the street.
Bishop said this change would help mitigate the chances of illegal loading and cut down on left-turn collisions by increasing driver visibility.
Designers on the project are also looking to make aesthetic changes to Peachtree Street that are easy to implement and inexpensive.
Darlene Montgomery, director and landscape architect at Snøhetta, said that the firm plans to return the street to “a walking landscape” by incorporating trees and other forms of greenery into Peachtree’s new design. She said these additions will transform sections of the street’s sides into reimagined miniature parks or gardens, offering pedestrians shade and more space to congregate.
Montgomery also said that Snøhetta’s proposed changes pay tribute to Peachtree Street’s history as a walking space while helping support Peachtree’s existing storefronts and institutions.