After nearly two years of development, including months of public engagement, My Upper Westside Masterplan is complete and moving steadily through the adoption process. If adopted, the plan would eventually bring dozens of capital projects to the Upper Westside that aim to transform the area from a largely industrial district to a uniquely livable neighborhood.
The plan is being led by the Upper Westside Improvement District, a Community Improvement District (CID), which is special governmental entity formed by local commercial property owners and legislated by the City of Atlanta. Upper Westside Improvement District is one of 25 CIDs in Atlanta who funds capital projects in their district through an additional self-imposed property tax. The district hired Consultants MKSK, Toole Design Group, James Lima Planning + Development and TSW to develop the detailed, 250-page document.
The document was reviewed by Neighborhood Planning Unit-C last Tuesday, September 7th, and is scheduled for a public hearing on September 27, 2021 at 6:00 PM. After the public hearing, City Council will vote to on an ordinance to adopt the plan and amend the Atlanta Comprehensive Development Plan to include the My Upper Westside projects.
The plan outlines “11 Big Ideas” for the Upper Westside that focus on strategic capital improvements and policy changes that will aggregate into a major transformation of the district. The big ideas are separated into four categories including Transportation and Mobility, Parks and Greenspace, Community and Economic Development, and Arts and Culture.
Among the most substantial proposals is to “Reclaim the Waterworks for the Public” which would reopen the Hemphill Reservoir to the public to expand the existing Waterworks Park by 147-acres, a project that would nearly meet the plan’s goals of increased greenspace in one fell swoop. The plan includes a concept for the park which includes trails, a boardwalk, playscapes, a community center, plaza and a wooded-area.
Many of the other improvements include vastly upgrading the multi-modal infrastructure in the neighborhood and integrating the BeltLine into a web of other trails, bike lanes and sidewalks.
The Westside Improvement District hopes that all of these projects will spur economic development in the neighborhood, which according to the plan has an industrial vacancy rate that is 30% higher than in Atlanta as a whole. Rental vacancy is the Upper Westside is roughly 50% lower than Atlanta’s overall, indicating high demand for housing in the rapidly developing neighborhood. The plan includes a Susceptibility to Change Map which shows roughly half the parcels in the district are either under development, planned for development, or are susceptible to redevelopment in the near future.