In the spirit of March Madness, Urbanize’s first-annual Best OTP Downtown tournament is kicking off with 16 contenders vying for the prestige of being called the metro’s greatest. (Note: Seeding from 1 to 16 was determined by reader nominations this month, so no pitchforks, please.)
For each Round 1 contest, voting will be open for just 24 hours. Please, let’s keep the tourney fun and positive, as one OTP city center rises above the rest in very public fashion. The eliminations begin now!
Estimated city population: 32,000
Distance from downtown Atlanta: 27 miles
Secret sauce: A pioneer in downtown open-container districts
Built around an important railroad route (and named for the Minnesota city where those tracks led), Duluth in this century was an early adopter of suburban downtown regeneration/creation efforts—all anchored by a versatile, centerpiece greenspace with an amphitheater and splash pad. Today the growing slate of attractions in Gwinnett County's second-largest city includes the Red Clay Music Foundry (from Eddie Owens of Decatur’s Eddie’s Attic fame), Good Word Brewing and Public House, and former intown favorite O4W Pizza.
STONE MOUNTAIN (10)
Estimated city population: 6,800
Distance from downtown Atlanta: 17 miles
Secret sauce: Free, quick entry by foot and bike to Stone Mountain Park, Georgia’s most popular tourist attraction
Situated almost literally in the shadow of Georgia’s most iconic rock formation, Stone Mountain Village limped through an era of disinvestment as tourists were rerouted directly into the private park next door—but a renaissance is clearly afoot. Storefronts and commercial buildings have sprung to life in recent years with the likes of Gilly Brew Bar (a coffeehouse occupying a gorgeous, historic former home), Cherokee Rose BBQ & Kitchen, and Outrun Brewing, a 1980s-themed social hub with patios overlooking that giant stone over the trees.
(POLLING HAS CLOSED AFTER 24 HOURS. Thanks to all who participated, and congrats to Duluth, which advances to the 2023 Elite Eight round.)