Commentary: Sprucing Up Park Honors Atlanta Olympic History

November 20, 2015

By Maria Saporta

The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation has awarded $10 million towards the rejuvenation of Centennial Olympic Park. A $25 million fundraising campaign to improve the park will launch in January, 2016 ─ all in an effort to mark the 20th anniversary of Atlanta's hosting the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. 

It's hard to believe that 20 years ago, Centennial Olympic Park replaced acres and acres of parking lots and vacant industrial buildings.

The park, the most significant legacy from the Olympics, has become a new front door for Atlanta.

The park's owner, the Georgia World Congress Center, wants to reinvest and refresh the green space that has transformed downtown Atlanta.

The $25 million  campaign includes the acquisition and demolition of the metro Atlanta chamber building and turning that into green space.

It also will create a new special events space and a new park's maintenance facility next to the aquarium. Major entrances to the park will be more welcoming to visitors and residents. The amphitheater will be upgraded and expanded with a band shell, a stage and additional seating.

And perhaps most symbolic of all ─ Andrew Young International Boulevard will become a pedestrian plaza, connecting the Fountain of the Rings with the rest of the park all on one level.

The public will have a new opportunity to buy commemorative bricks that will be placed in the plaza's pavement.

Ideally, the Georgia World Congress Center and the Atlanta business and philanthropic community will take this opportunity to highlight Atlanta's Olympic legacy.

The Olympic exhibit could be moved to the park.  The flags of all nations that have hosted the Olympics since 1896 could decorate the green space.  And plaques could be placed around the park, informing people of the role the games played in Atlanta's history.

Let's be bold and creative as we begin to spruce up Atlanta's front lawn.

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International travelers show more interest in Atlanta

October 28, 2015


Atlanta and several other U.S. cities are getting more popular with tourists traveling from outside the U.S., according to TripAdvisor Inc.

A new study evaluates major U.S. tourism cities seeing the greatest increase in interest from international travelers according to searches on the travel website.

The Top 10 U.S. cities with the greatest increase in share of traffic. (Number listed is increase in interest year-over-year):

  1. Nashville - 38 percent
  2. Portland, Maine - 34 percent
  3. Atlanta - 33 percent
  4. Dallas - 27 percent
  5. New Orleans - 20 percent
  6. Boston - 19 percent
  7. Fort Lauderdale, Florida - 18 percent
  8. Miami Beach, Florida - 18 percent
  9. Houston - 16 percent
  10. San Antonio - 15 percent

The TripAdvisor ranking of Top 10 U.S. Cities with the Greatest Increase in Traffic from International Travelers is based on the largest year-over-year increases in share of international traffic sessions on TripAdvisor August 2014-2015 compared to August 2013-2014 for U.S. cities with at least 100 million sessions during this period of time.


Elevate Atlanta

October 20, 2015

Hosted annually in Downtown Atlanta, ELEVATE exhibits large scale public artwork and offers performance, educational opportunities and cultural experiences free to the public with the mission of instigating positive urban growth.  The curator for ELEVATE 2015 is visual/performing artist and scholar Fahamu Pecou.

The goal of the this year’s event will be to generate a heightened sense of pride in the city of Atlanta and what it offers to the nation and the world. Operating under the theme F(orever) I L(ove) A(tl) – F.I.L.A., a 9-day celebration of what makes Atlanta unique and special through visual art, performances and events that showcase Atlanta – past, present and future.  Inspired by its rise from the ashes of Sherman’s war campaign, Atlanta is represented by the phoenix. Today, she continues to reinvent herself. ELEVATE 2015 is a celebration of Atlanta, where she’s been, where she is now and where she is going!


Find out more at

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Georgia Forward Young Gamechangers

September 22, 2015

Statewide non-profit GeorgiaForward named Douglasville/Douglas County as the location for its next Young Gamechangers leadership and action program. The program brings together 40-50 emerging leaders from around the state to one Georgia community to propose fresh, thoughtful solutions to some of their longstanding challenges.

To fill this Young Gamechangers class, GeorgiaForward is looking for innovative thinkers from around Georgia and from multiple sectors including business, law, public health, real estate, urban planning, the arts, non-profits, foundations and academia. Ambitious minds from any sector will be considered for the program. Young professionals between the ages of 24 and 40 who live in Georgia may apply online at Applications
are due by Friday, October 30, 2015.


Atlanta headed for 8 million people

September 14, 2015

Expect an additional 2.5 million people, bringing the metro area population from 5.5 million to 8 million by 2040, according to a forecast released today by the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Back in 2011, the last time the regional visionaries of the ARC had a gander into the crystal ball, they saw a metro Atlanta of 7.8 million people in 2040.

Back then, the region was still struggling to emerge from the Great Recession. Now, economy is much better, job creation is way up and the flow of new residents from elsewhere to Atlanta has resumed.

Most of the population growth will take place in the suburbs, according to the ARC.

But “significant growth” is also expected in the core of the region — Downtown Atlanta, Midtown, Buckhead and the nearby neighborhoods that are inside I-285.

More than in previous decades of surging growth, people are choosing to live near jobs or transportation, said Jane Hayse, director of ARC’s Center for Livable Communities.

“Walkable communities” are also becoming more popular, she said. “There’s been a change in the region’s development pattern. We see this trend continuing, and even accelerating, over the next 25 years.”

The ARC predicts an additional 1.5 million jobs by 2040.

“The Atlanta region is a hub for high tech, professional services and logistics jobs,” said Mike Alexander, manager of ARC’s Research and Analytics Division. “The region seems to have a solid economic footing for the future.”

Jobs in metro Atlanta will also be concentrated in the region’s core, major employment centers and along major highway corridors. The ARC projects 44 percent of jobs will be located in these areas in 2040.


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