Schiller: Braves' Fans Never Were Dependent on Rail
As Atlanta Braves EVP Derek Schiller put it: Braves fans don't use MARTA. Or at least, rail access won't be critical to the success of the organization's new SunTrust Park stadium project.
It was a friendly tit-for-tat at Bisnow's Atlanta 2016 Forecast event at the W Hotel Midtown yesterday between City of Atlanta Council president Ceasar Mitchell and Derek, with Ceasar asking if the stadium's impact is having an effect on views about MARTA expansion into Cobb County. Derek said the stadium will already be very connected, but pointed out connectivity can take different forms, alluding to the organization's 14-point access plan.
He said at Turner Field, fans griped about parking around the ballpark, and even with a bus option from MARTA, only 8% of the fan base—many commuting from as far as 50 miles away—used mass transit to get to games. He said Atlanta still has a car culture, though the long-term hope is for transit.”
Derek said all eyes are on Atlanta right now, as other cities are studying how the region develops two new stadiums—the Falcons included—and other mega-projects that are revolutionary. In terms of the Braves' SunTrust Park, he called it a mall model, where the Braves will anchor a mixed-use development.
Ceasar and Derek were part of a panel that discussed development trends around the metro area, including InvestAtlanta's Dr. Eloisa Klementich and MARTA's Amanda Rhein. Eloisa said the city's economic development arm was involved in some way in bringing 11,000 new jobs to the city last year, including NCR, Kaiser Permanente and WorldPay. And the reason companies are coming is for the talent pool and workforce full of Millennials.
As MARTA attempts to drum up voter support to pass a half-penny sales tax in Fulton and DeKalb counties that will fund half the $8B price tag for three notable expansion projects, Amanda said the transit agency is still running into density concerns in suburban counties, notably North Fulton, where the line is proposed to expand into Alpharetta.
MARTA has been partnering with developers to redevelop various stations to add mixed-use elements, including apartments and retail. She says the fears are nothing but a misunderstanding, and MARTA and the developers will only build what local jurisdictions allow in zoning. She also said MARTA hopes to break ground on four transit-oriented developments this year, including the Edgewood/Candler station project with Columbia Ventures.
Eloisa said with 4,000 apartment units planned, another 4,000 underway, and about as many just delivered, and rents rising quickly within the city, there is a growing conversation about the need for more workforce housing—lower rentals—so companies that are moving into the city for Millennials will be assured their population will stay local. Ceasar has been sounding the possibility of adding some form of workforce housing requirement into revamped city zoning codes. Eloisa said developers are open to participating if the city makes the zoning code even for everyone.