As details are finalized on a new Atlanta Falcons football stadium, Architecture Professor Benjamin Flowers looks at how it could impact surrounding neighborhoods:
The congregations of Friendship Baptist Church and Mount Vernon Baptist Church have agreed to sell their properties to make way for the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium, ending months of speculation about where the new structure will be located.
While there is clarity about where the new stadium will be built, many important aspects of the project remain unanswered, not the least of which is the question of how a $1 billion stadium will help rather than harm surrounding neighborhoods.
These are, after all, the same neighborhoods that were promised, but never received, an economic revitalization from the construction of the Georgia Dome. Many area residents are justifiably skeptical about the promises of positive impacts from the new stadium (and subsequent demolition of the Dome). Those promises range from the new stadium spurring economic development in the surrounding neighborhoods to claims that its construction will produce living-wage jobs for local residents. These are commonly promised in stadium development plans that depend on public funding. They are less commonly delivered.
Remember, even the most active NFL stadium is used but for eight home games a year. Add every other imaginable event and you are likely still talking about a $1 billion building that is active less than 100 days out of the year.
What could it do the other 265 days?
Could it begin to fill in the variety of amenities Vine City and English Avenue currently lack? How might the construction of the new stadium and the demolition of the Dome allow for imaginative urban design solutions to a variety of current conditions that residents would like to see solved?
There's no reason a structure of the magnitude being discussed couldn't host a lot more uses than merely sporting ones. Public green space, gardens, space for local small businesses, transportation nodes and after school facilities for local children all could be slotted into a structure of this size.
These are the sorts of questions that city officials, neighborhood representatives, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority and the Falcons need to think long and hard about in the next few months.
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