Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Inner City is the New "In Crowd"

by Jesse Budlong

ATLANTA_We have a lot of SUVs in my "in-town" neighborhood of Atlantic Station. All the roads were built by the State Department of Transportation and are classified as highways stemming from the Interstate -- implying very high speeds and a lack of pedestrian involvement.

This is the “urban lifestyle” toted by many developers as what it’s truly like in a city. Many new glittering high-rises offer more parking than their predecessors and their ground-level retail contains many chains commonly associated with a mall food court.

To bring people into our cities we have to offer them the comfort reminders of their old suburban lifestyles instead of their new urban one. McMansions catering to those who can’t downsize their square footage and roads must be wider to accommodate their habitual car habits. When you compare old in-town neighborhoods such as Inman Park or Candler Park to their newer counterparts of Atlantic Station and Dupont Commons you notice the loss of community and more pronounced sense of mass production. Anything created on such a scale would be considered "in-organic growth," likely found in the suburbs.

I’ve always been able to spot OTP (Outside the Perimeter) from ITP (Inside the Perimeter) people, and quite frankly I don’t want any OPT’ers in my neighborhood. They would just buy a nice cottage, demolish it, build some monstrosity out of Better Homes and Garden then “attempt” to parallel park their Hummer out front.

My parents are still OTP in a sense. They drive a little more than they should and they aren’t very involved in community affairs. Despite my pleas to petition our neighborhood to listen to the needs of it’s residents and opposed to its customers, which is run like a shopping mall.

Now don’t think I don’t appreciate older, more pro-active suburban neighborhoods that reign in growth and promote more efficient lifestyles. It’s just that there aren’t many in the metro Atlanta region, a region that before 1950 didn’t even exist. It’s all one large, pre-fabricated subdivision.

Jesse Budlong is a native of Atlanta, Georgia currently studying Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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