This week marks 11 months since the Urbanize Atlanta news site started from scratch, and 2021 has brought many blessings. More than 1 million individual readers and nary a dull day of Atlanta news, just for starters.
In this season of reflection, it seemed an opportune time to look back at what inspired, delighted, peeved, and outright angered ATLiens (and readers from afar) this year. Below, we’ve tallied the 10 most-read stories of our first (almost) year, presented in no particular order.
As these topics prove, you never really know what Atlantans will care about—unless it involves really tall buildings.
• At long last, Atlanta’s largest park space debuts
Fifteen years in the making, Westside Park captured readers’ attention like nothing else this year, though it’s only partially finished. The $44-million phase one incorporates large sculptures, scenic woods, three pavilions, 450 parking spaces, a playground and open fields, plus two and ½ miles of ADA-accessible bike and walking trails. But the high point, literally, could be the “grand overlook” atop the former quarry's scenic cliffs.
• One gorgeous North Georgia mountain property
More than 8,200 square feet. A six-bed bunkhouse. Two docks, one private beach, and its very own peninsula. It all helped this record sale on Lake Blue Ridge make sense, back in June.
• Atlanta’s biggest hotel in ages breaks ground
Exclusive news that Georgia World Congress Center Authority’s long-delayed hotel project would break ground in April was kind of a big deal. The world’s first ground-up Signia by Hilton will be housed in a glassy high-rise that’s climbing between convention halls and The Benz’s tailgating greenspace, which is also a public park.
• The ongoing saga of West End’s mall
News that Mall West End had a date with the wrecking ball rankled readers back in March, but that turned out to be a false alarm for detractors of plans for a massive mixed-use development in its place. The mall’s third potential suitor in the past two years, New York-based developer Prusik Group, has more recently stepped forward to buy the 1972 shopping center.
• LA Dodgers scribe talks smack about The Battery
Atlantans are nothing if not fiercely loyal to the town they didn’t grow up in. Just ask Los Angeles Times sports reporter Bill Plaschke, who called the Braves’ friendly confines a “sterile shopping-mall Atlanta stadium” and the Game One atmosphere dead, triggering almost 100 comments. The Bravos proceeded to stomp out the Dodgers in six games en route to their first World Series championship since 1995.
• Vision emerges for a new Forsyth County town
Who says intown Atlantans could frankly not give a damn about OTP, and vice versa? This massive proposal in Forsyth County designed by Nelson Worldwide, Coal Mountain Town Center, got people on both sides of Interstate 285 talking.
• Atlanta’s tallest recent skyscraper proposal raises eyebrows
While it wasn’t exactly showered with praise in the comments or on social media, a 61-story, mixed-use proposal by Manhattan-based Rockefeller Group certainly piqued Atlantans’ interest when the veil came off last month. Should the TVS-designed tower move forward as proposed, it would be the tallest built in Atlanta in nearly 30 years—and the city’s fifth tallest building overall.
• Big interest for Georgia’s first tiny home village
For as much as Atlantans prize their big-ass houses, they sure seem curious about a project like Clarkston’s Cottages on Vaughan, which debuted in July—already sold out—as Georgia’s first example of a tiny home village, according to the MicroLife Institute. A few months later, the project dominated our reader poll asking which was Atlanta’s best small-scale development debut of 2021.
• City planner makes the case for bulldozing CNN Center
Thanks to the bold (but not universally beloved) vision of Adam Hazell, a city and regional planner and Georgia Tech grad, our very first reader editorial was one of 2021’s most consistently read writings. It published just a few days after the site went live.
• And of course … uh … Buckhead gets a Christmas market
Last but certainly not least, the news that Buckhead—a hotbed of “Buckxit” separation controversy throughout much of 2021—had landed a German-style Christmas market formerly staged in Centennial Olympic Park struck a chord with readers. To each his ho-ho-ho-own.
• Best of Atlanta 2021 (Urbanize)