Friday, August 29, 2008

Highland Ave revitalization

The AJC has an article today about the many new developments on Highland Avenue in Inman Park. If you are familiar with intown Atlanta, it's nothing new. If not - come on in, the water is fine. I thought I'd give my thoughts on a few of the developments mentioned.
  • Highland Walk - this is actually one of my favorite developments from an urban planning perspective. It isn't too flashy, but the urban foundtion is solid. They got a pretty successful restaurant at the corner of Sampson and Highland, across the street from existing retail. The Highland Ave side of the complex has some street-entry units that add to the pedestrian feel of the street. The height of the building fits with the single family homes on a small ridge across the street. The architecture doesn't stand out, but it is traditional enough that it fits.

    I am less fond of the interiors. They feel very bland and boring, and are targetted at middle class professionals. Pretty much a snooze fest. But I don't think I'm the target audience - I'd much prefer somewhere like the Mattress Factory.

  • Highland Steel - This earns the Obnoxious Architecture tag. The colors are hideous, and the corrugated steel doesn't work for me, at least not the way they used it. The units themselves are pretty boring, too. Given Perennial's work at Highland Walk, I was expecting a lot more out of this development.

  • Inman Park Village - overall, I like the masterplan of the old Mead facotry that includes IPV Lofts, 870 Inman, Mariposa Lofts, loft office condos, single family homes on Lake Ave, as well as some townhomes. I have said it before, but I think the plan is too insular. The retail portion of IPV Lofts sits pretty high above Highland Ave, because the building is really oriented more to the interior courtyard.

    I like aspects of Mariposa Lofts - it was built when "soft lofts" were the rage, and it has some exposed ductwork that sets it off a little bit. Overall, the complex isn't that distinctive, but I think its just different enough.

    The Brunning and Stang townhomes are some of my favorites. I'm a sucker for that classical architecture, and I love the light wells they have for the basement bonus room. If you want to know what classic townhomes should aspire to, check out these (or the ones in Glenwood Park). They are way too expensive, but they are what I showed my mother when she was making noise about moving. "Before you dismiss townhomes, take a look at these." (She liked the feel, but townhomes have too many stairs.)
Right now, I get a slightly disjointed feel when I drive down Highland Avenue. It all feels a bit off somehow. I think the elevated IPV retail is part of it, and I think the architecture of N. Highland Steel is part of it, too. Still, the developments are good examples of developers working with neighborhoods to find something that satisfies everyone. The quote of the article comes from an Inman Park resident:
Longtime Inman Park resident Anda Olsen and her husband have traded their four-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot house for a 1,700-square-foot condo at the Grinnell Lofts on North Highland. The neighborhood has embraced the new direction, she said.

“We’re delighted,” she said. “Anything that doesn’t change, and grow, dies.”


  1. mariposa lofts? seriously?

    i guess the developers arent too into mexican slang...

  2. I looked at all 3 of these properties when moving to the IP area and you've got it pretty right here... One more strike for Highland Steel was that it was way overpriced compared to the 2 neighboring properties. I ended up renting a much nicer condo just a block off Highland for less than I'd have paid at any of these places - and still with the perk of being able to walk to the local businesses.


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