In the spirit of March Madness, Urbanize Atlanta’s first-annual Best OTP Downtown tournament kicked off last week with 16 places vying for the prestige of being called the metro’s greatest.
Now, for each Elite Eight contest, voting will be open for just 24 hours. Please, let’s keep the tourney fun and positive, as one suburban city center rises above the rest in very public fashion. The quest to crown a champion resumes now!
Estimated city population: 66,000
Distance from downtown Atlanta: 25 miles
Secret sauce: 120-acre Wills Park is the crème de la crème of city greenspaces, with a large dog park, 18-hole disc golf course, and an equestrian center considered among the Southeast’s best
Round 1: No. 1-seed Alpharetta zoomed by upstart Trilith to conclude first-round action
How fitting the No. 1 seed in this quest for OTP Downtown greatness (as determined by reader nominations) is not only one of the largest cities but also has “Alpha” in its name. Ask locals, and they’ll say downtown Alpharetta was sleepy—if not outright boring—not too long ago. That all changed in 2019, when the final components of Alpharetta City Center were opened on former parking lots and strip centers, lending the North Fulton city an open-container central green, dozens of new shops and restaurants, upscale apartments—and a new identity. Outward growth has only continued, with the city’s first boutique hotel, new mixed-use ventures, and now wildly expensive condos popping up on the Alpha Loop trail en route to nearby Avalon.
Estimated city population: 38,000
Distance from downtown Atlanta: 14 miles
Secret sauce: Drastically more affordable than DeKalb brethren Decatur, on the flipside of the Interstate 285 line; close to all things ATL
Round 1: Tucker pulled a slight upset and scooted by higher-seeded Norcross
As another contestant located just outside the I-285 Perimeter loop (and thus eligible to play), Downtown Tucker has long been a destination for intown expats seeking more living space and budget-friendlier prices than much of what exists a few miles west. Buzz for Tucker’s restaurant scene has only enhanced the allure. Additions such as Ford’s BBQ and High Card Brewery (RIP, Hot Betty’s) have joined the ranks of stalwarts like Local No. 7 and stone-cold classic Mathews Cafeteria (dishing comfort food for almost 70 years). To burn off those calories, stroll down the finished portions of PATH Foundation’s multi-use downtown trail, which plans call for one day connecting to a reimagined Northlake Mall.
(POLLING HAS CLOSED AFTER 24 HOURS. Thanks to all who participated, and congrats to Alpharetta, which—narrowly—advances to the 2023 FINAL FOUR round!)