Live, Work, Play & Stay
Exploring Atlanta's Mixed-Use Neighborhoods
by Susan Flowers
Although Atlanta is often known for its heavy traffic, a move to the city doesn’t have to convert into a monster commute. The metro area is home to several communities designed around the concept of mixed-use that allows residents to live, work and play within the same area; these communities embody much of what makes Atlanta a great place to live.
Located north of Atlanta in Gwinnett County, this city of some 16,000 residents is ideal for newcomers who wish to have home, office, shopping and recreation within easy reach. The 10-acre Town Center Park is the hub of the community’s mixed-use space, the center of a 63-acre development.
Forty acres of that space is devoted to residential in the form of Shadowbrook at Town Center, a neighborhood that includes 85 single-family houses and 147 townhomes and condos. Residents enjoy the leafy, relaxing setting, with ponds, parks and nearby walking trails enhancing everyday life.
Designed to also offer 100,000 square feet of retail space and 87,000 square feet of office space, Town Center has become a kind of “front yard” for residents. Festivals and community events are held regularly in the park, and the abundant green space is a great spot for weekend leisure or a pleasant lunch hour. The park’s interactive fountain delights children and adults alike. The 1,000-seat amphitheater is a frequent setting for concerts, while some musical events attract as many as 15,000 fans. The park is surrounded by outstanding restaurants and shops as well.
Its beauty enhanced by the thousands of blooms that inspired its informal name, “The Jonquil City,” Smyrna boasts a vibrant downtown area with homes, shopping and office space all in one cozy setting. The Market Village is the focal point of the city’s mixed- use development, with 16 townhomes, 40,000 square feet of retail and 18,000 square feet of office space.
Several neighborhoods are in proximity to Market Village, each with its own particular charm. Among the best-known is Williams Park, an area with numerous older homes that also contains many lofts and other options. Williams Park residents are within walking distance of downtown. Cheney Woods, also nearby, has more than 200 houses, most in the ranch style so popular in the 1950s and ‘60s. Also close to downtown is Forest Hills, a heavily wooded neighborhood that features a variety of home styles. Like most areas in Smyrna, these neighborhoods feature many community activities, including fall festivals and garage sales.
All the city’s residents can enjoy its many parks, jogging trails and other amenities; but with small town perks including a Village Green downtown with a community center, library and arboretum, plus regular community events. Just 10 miles northwest of the city, Smyrna is 15 minutes from downtown Atlanta.
With a strong retail presence, plentiful office space and numerous housing options, the Perimeter area offers multiple developments created around the concept of live/work/play. Located in Dekalb County’s Dunwoody area, Perimeter’s mixed-use options include Perimeter Summit. Located at 1-285 and Ashford Dunwoody Road, this 83-acre development features office, housing, retail and dining options. Residents can enjoy walking trails and free shuttles to a nearby station for Atlanta’s rapid transit system, MARTA. Perimeter Summit also offers spectacular, 360-degree elevated views of the city, all the way to Stone Mountain and beyond. Perimeter Place, a 425,000 square-foot multi-anchor development with more than 550 residential units, is another great mixed- use option, with shopping and entertainment.
With more than 22 million square feet of office space and many Fortune 500 companies calling it home, the area is prime territory for job seekers. This award-winning walkable urban center is a collaborative effort, with Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (Perimeter CID) at the helm providing alternative transportation, pedestrian choices with miles of new bike lanes and sidewalks, and connectivity to the three MARTA stations within its boundaries. Perimeter is also a shopper’s paradise, with the upscale Perimeter Mall as its hub. Anchored by Bloomindale’s, Nordstrom, Dillard’s and Macy’s, the mall also features more than 200 specialty shops and services.
According to Elida Baverman, managing broker with Prudential Realty Perimeter North, the entire area remains much in demand even in the current market, due to the highly desirable location and excellent nearby schools.
For newcomers who wish to live, work, play and shop in the heart of the city, Atlantic Station could be an excellent choice. More than 5,000 homes are eventually planned for this cutting edge, mixed-use development, which features 138 acres in the city’s Midtown area. Buyers can choose from an array of condos, lofts, townhomes, apartments and single-family detached homes. The area also contains a two-acre lake and a surprising wealth of green space.
Grocery shopping is available within the development, and Atlantic Station is home not just to numerous fine shops but to major retailers, including Dillard’s, Target and Atlanta’s only IKEA store. A gym, a 16-screen movie theater, and an upscale bowling alley are part of the mix as well. Atlantic Station also features some of the city’s best restaurants, sports pubs, sandwich shops and casual dining venues.
With 1.4 million square feet of existing office space, plus an additional 4 million in the works, Atlantic Station was designed to host a work force of more than 15,000 people. The Midtown setting means that residents have easy access to MARTA, through buses and shuttles to the nearby Arts Center Station. A three-story parking deck and metered parking on the street are also available.
The county seat of Dekalb County, this city of 18,000 features a thriving downtown area with single-family homes, condos, excellent restaurants and numerous shops. Lucky Decatur residents enjoy all the advantages of their own mixed-use community while still only a short drive from downtown Atlanta. Decatur also features easy access to the metro area’s rapid transit service, MARTA, with a station downtown and numerous bus stops.
From galleries and bookstores to restaurants and nightlife, this city has it all, including an active arts community. Public art dots the city’s streets, enhancing the lives of residents and visitors. The downtown appeals to animal lovers as well; residents can be seen strolling and relaxing with their four-legged friends on both weekdays and weekends. Decatur also benefits from its involved citizenry, who are active in many neighborhood and civic groups.
Single-family homes around downtown Decatur offer beauty, charm and a tree-lined setting. These older houses are just an easy walk from the vibrant town square. The downtown area also offers condos in close proximity to the town square. With easy access to shops, restaurants, and the county courthouse, many of these developments also offer upscale amenities.