Action to Build Over MARTA Stations Moves Forward

Air Rights refer to the right to use the vertical space above a property. When buying a building, the owner gains the right not only over the land beneath, but also over the empty space above the building, within certain limits depending on the Zoning District. This can potentially be very lucrative for the owner, developer and surrounding properties, as the aerial space has great development potential. MARTA is moving forward to develop air rights above four rail stations – Arts Center, Lenox, Midtown and North Avenue. A Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) which has been extended from October 2, 2014 to November 4, 2014 has formally been submitted. To view the RFEI Click Here.  MARTA is also currently soliciting Project Vision Statements from local and national developers capable of submitting stunning mixed-use project examples for its Transit Oriented Development program. According to MARTA’s website, Transit Oriented Development, or TOD, is defined as a development that is vibrant, pedestrian friendly, and genuinely integrated with transit. The over-arching goal is to generate a greater return by increased transit ridership. Building above rail stations would be within the “zone of influence”, which is roughly a half-mile around metro or commuter rail stations, can provide a rich environment of land uses – live, work, shop, entertainment.

Riverside Plaza and Millennium Park, both in Chicago, and the Broadgate Development in London are each built atop existing rail stations, and have succeeded in changing the urban landscape of the cities in which they dwell. Each project has an underlying goal, whether it is satisfying business needs, commercial or housing needs. The City of Atlanta has become more congested, not only downtown but also the Midtown and Buckhead areas. Atlanta is already staking claim as the capital of the southeast. The Air Rights model with its “built-in” destination for thousands of passengers and commuters will make Atlanta a more desirable destination not only regionally but also nationally, by instantaneously attracting tourists who travel through the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

In addition to the Air Rights projects, MARTA also plans to refurbish two rail stations, Five Points and Garnett. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) provided MARTA with a Livable Communities Initiative grant and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) matched the grant, bringing the total for improvements to $100,000. Similar to the Air Rights venture, the goal is to increase transit ridership while growing the overall attractiveness, safety and accessibility to these dilapidated stations. Optimism could be on the horizon if you are a food truck connoisseur. These revitalizations could give rise to the Atlanta Street Food Coalition, providing vendors and patrons the opportunity to take advantage of the burgeoning business. This concept of luring food trucks to rail stations is not new to MARTA. The Vine City rail station has been privy to this electrifying food culture movement during Georgia State Football games, the Atlanta Falcons and the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Bringing this idea to Garnett and Five Points not only will cultivate relationships between the street vendors and residents, but also the neighboring business community.