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Community debates proposed Monroe development

ROOM+FOR+GROWTH%3A+Above+is+part+of+the+area+in+Piedmont+Park+that+will+be+developed+for+the+construction+of+a+residential+and+commercial+complex%2C+facing+Monroe+Dr.+behind+Park+Tavern
ROOM FOR GROWTH: Above is part of the area in Piedmont Park that will be developed for the construction of a residential and commercial complex, facing Monroe Dr. behind Park Tavern

ROOM FOR GROWTH: Above is part of the area in Piedmont Park that will be developed for the construction of a residential and commercial complex, facing Monroe Dr. behind Park Tavern

ROOM FOR GROWTH: Above is part of the area in Piedmont Park that will be developed for the construction of a residential and commercial complex, facing Monroe Dr. behind Park Tavern

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It is widely known the intersection of Monroe Dr. and 10th St. is one of the most congested intersections in Midtown. The problems which have arisen from this intersection have greatly affected the Grady community, causing the death of a student two years ago. On Apr. 10, there was a community meeting in the Grady auditorium to discuss plans of a multi-purpose development on this corner.

Neighborhood members used the meeting as a platform to voice their numerous concerns about how the new development would increase the population in an already congested intersection. Person after person lined up around the auditorium and spoke. One person started his speech with, “Sorry I am late, it took 20 minutes to get here,” in an attempt to emphasize how bad the traffic is already around Grady.  

From the start, the auditorium was filled with Grady cluster teachers, principals, parents and students. The majority consensus of the room was that the right course of action is to keep the tracts of land residential and at the very least, have human-scale development. Concerns have risen that this project will spur a domino effect of development in the area, and the voice of future developers will overpower the voice of the neighborhood.

The audience members struggled to find compromise with Fuqua Development due to the lack of a finalized plan. Currently, the request for proposal (RFP) includes an 11 story hotel with 30 percent affordable housing, a one-story grocery store, restaurant space and 745 parking spaces.

“I think it’s disingenuous to say you don’t know what the plans are. We can’t debate you unless we know the plan,” said Grady GO Team leader and teacher Mario Herrera.

In order to continue on the path of development, Fuqua and his team have to engage in a series of mandated community meetings. However, participants at the meeting questioned the true purpose of the discussion: did Fuqua Development want to hear feedback or just check a box on a the to-do list for starting developing?

The architect, Jay Silverman, as a representative of the team and apart of Dwell Design Studio responded by trying to reassure the community of the company’s intentions and that the point of the meeting was to work with the city and find solutions.

“If you lived in this area, drove these streets every day, shopped everyday, recreated everyday and your children went to school in the area, would you be in favor of this project?”  said a community mom.

“We do these things to make places better,” said Silverman. The response sparked a wave of sarcastic laughter in the audience.

While the members of the meeting did not reach a compromise, it was just the beginning of the process. The neighborhood was united on fighting Fuqua Development’s project proposal and pledged to take legal challenge if necessary, vowing to protect the Virginia-Highlands and Midtown area as is.

 

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Community debates proposed Monroe development