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Alternative Transportation Becoming Key To Mixed-Use Projects

Cornerstone Development Partners Senior Vice President Wesley DeFoor

While metro Atlanta commuters still predominantly rely on personal vehicles, there are a growing number who are changing their habits with other forms of transportation. And that could benefit mixed-use projects, especially those along such pedestrian paths as the Atlanta BeltLine.

Cornerstone Development Partners Senior Vice President Wesley DeFoor said he is seeing a change in the way people who live and work around the BeltLine are traveling, and that change is benefiting Cornerstone's projects.

“It creates a very dynamic experience and enhances the [project's] value,” he said.

Mill Creek Residential Senior Partner Chad DuBeau said the Texas-based REIT is capitalizing on its apartment projects adjacent to the BeltLine and other pedestrian trails in the metro area, including Path400 in Buckhead, by putting bicycle rental and repair shops on the properties.

For DuBeau, it is more than just a matter of establishing an amenity.

“I really think it's our social responsibility to get people to not drive,” he said.

Renderings of planned renovations at Colony Square.

North American Properties also is emphasizing public transit and transportation with its redo of Colony Square in Midtown. The firm recently established a “mobility concierge ” position at the project, NAP Vice President of Development John Kelley said. The employee in that position is there to help tenants and shoppers figure how to get around the city using public transportation rather than hopping into their own cars, Kelley said.

The developer also is putting a bicycle valet in the complex as well.

Even suburban mixed-use centers are eyeing a future where shoppers are less reliant on cars with the advent of autonomous vehicles and services like Uber.

APD Solutions CEO Vaughn Irons

APD Solutions CEO Vaughn Irons said he does not believe that personal cars will be the primary way shoppers get to retail destinations a decade from now.

While his firm is developing a multistory parking deck to service a new $200M sports and entertainment complex adjacent to the Mall at Stonecrest in Rockdale County, Irons said at least two levels of that deck could be converted into playing surfaces.

The sports complex is expected to include 29 playing fields, including for soccer, football and baseball, five full-size basketball and volleyball courts, an outdoor covered stadium, two sports training facilities, a sports medicine facility, a 15,000-seat stadium and a retail and entertainment district.