Originally Posted by DPC
Midtown is wonderful, but it's creation and momentum has actually hurt downtown's full buildout in my opinion. When I visited DC, I was blown away at the sheer size of their downtown. The craziest thing is, even with a downtown that size, there wasn't an open lot in sight. No surface parking lots either. They don't even have parking garages. All the parking was underground. They barely have any single family homes in the whole city.
Downtown DC is almost entirely office space and hotels. You won't find much residential there, so actually in reality there isn't a classic mix of uses in downtown DC. If you head west towards the circles or north or across the Potomac, you will find a better mix of uses, which in my opinion differentiates truly 24-7 areas from vertical office parks. If there were no tourists in DC, then its downtown would be a lot quieter than what it in fact is. Also, the convention center is not very centralized and is in an "up and coming" area with a lot of new construction, but also a ton of vacant lots.
If you were to travel straight from DC to Boston or Chicago, you would notice a difference in true urbanity. DC still has a ways to go.
Also, downtown Atlanta was doomed for a while just as every downtown outside of the largest 5 were doomed for a couple of generations. It's fortunate we didn't do as my hometown did and just completely raze downtown, and it is still there, on its way back.
Having Midtown nearby is a plus for downtown. The Downtown-Buckhead spine creates a momentous "path of progress", with downtown at the south end immediately adjacent to arguably the hottest RE market in the city right now: Midtown. It will benefit just from the adjacency, but if it were completely isolated and it were a choice between Buckhead and Downtown with the no-man's land in between, downtown would suffer IMMENSELY while Buckhead would literally take everything and everyone.
Having Midtown as an anchor for young professionals and urbanites since the 80s has arguably led to the rebirth of the other intown neighborhoods surrounding Midtown AND downtown, and downtown is and will ultimately benefit.
I used to think AS detracted from retail potential in Midtown, but in all reality it doesn't at all. Midtown has to evolve separately as a true urban 24-7 destination with foot traffic for retail to come. AS is essentially a mall and is entirely different.
Originally Posted by Slog
Regarding underground parking, unlike Atlanta, they can justify the cost because the cost of living is so high there (higher rents, prices, etc). Atlanta won't have underground parking for a very very long time.
And I somewhat disagree on your points about hoping things were centralized. Atlanta has the footprint of being an amazing city. Just think 40-50 years from now...A connected and very linear/dense core that goes from Downtown to Midtown to Buckheadwith great neighborhoods on the side (Inman, homepark, Ansley,Collier Hills, etc.) The next 10 years will be huge for Atlanta. I am hoping for some growth in the Gulch area and more infill will occur between downtown and Midtown. Buckhead's density can only go south toward Midtown
You're right in that sky-high rents can pretty much justify anything in DC, but another difference between DC and Atlanta is that much of Atlanta sits atop really hard granite and DC sits atop what was a swamp. Rents are much higher there, but the cost to build underground is lower. Atlanta would have to be even more expensive with even tighter barriers to entry to justify underground parking like DC has.
I do agree that the next 10 years will be huge for Atlanta. Huge. I hope.