A people-friendly makeover of Peachtree Street traffic lanes in the heart of Atlanta was supposed to signal “the beginning of a cultural shift” in terms of how intown public space is utilized, according to city planners.
Instead, it appears the Peachtree Shared Street Demonstration Project will soon meet its end.
Beginning next week, Atlanta’s Department of City Planning and Department of Transportation will begin removing elements of the project installed last summer that made traffic lanes off-limits to cars, opening up accessibility for pedestrians, bicyclists, and others, as sources tell Urbanize Atlanta.
All planters, signage, wheel stops, and other elements of the planning department’s shared space project will be pulled.
City media sources and planning department contacts have yet to respond to inquiries about the project’s removal. But Amir Farokhi, Atlanta City Councilor for downtown’s District 2, confirmed the plans and said his efforts to keep the demonstration project in place were ultimately fruitless.
Sources including downtown residents indicate that Richard Bowers, president of commercial real estate firm Richard Bowers and Co., opposed the changes to Peachtree Street and was influential in the city’s decision to remove shared lanes.
Bowers’ holdings include a Peachtree office high-rise at 270 Peachtree Street at the intersection of Baker Street. In 2019, Bowers was described as the most vocal opponent to plans—ultimately shot down by Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, by way of veto—to convert Baker Street into a two-way thoroughfare many advocates thought would be safer.
We’ve reached out to Bowers and Co., and to Richard Bowers directly, for input, and we’ll post any further information that comes.
The planning department’s shared lanes project debuted in June along three blocks of Atlanta’s signature street.
Building on an Atlanta City Studio concept from 2018, the initiative installed small removable barriers and verdant planters to open up street lanes for pedestrians, bicyclists, and e-scooter riders, spanning from Baker to Ellis streets in front of marquee hotels and numerous restaurants and office towers.
Applauded by urbanists, the initiative was described as the first step toward making that stretch of Peachtree a curbless, permanently shared space.
Still, not everyone was thrilled.
A longtime downtown resident who requested anonymity emailed Urbanize last year to air grievances with the project: “Shared Peachtree is a colossal mess,” the emailer wrote. “No businesses along the three blocks support it. Life safety, MARTA Mobility, and armed [cash] delivery are all compromised.”
See the above gallery for a photo tour of the Peachtree Street project from last summer—and a look at what plans ultimately called for.
• Photos: How downtown Atlanta's new pedestrian mall turned out (Urbanize Atlanta)