Memorial Drive guru Greg Giuffrida talks changes on the corridor

February 3,2017

Source: Michael Kahn, Curbed Atlanta

Memorial Drive stretches straight eastward from downtown Atlanta, extending beyond the edge of the city to the Perimeter. While the corridor has long been a hub of industry, the character is quickly changing as developers leverage the area’s proximity and accessibility to the heart of the city—and attractions such as the Atlanta Beltline.

So it’s imperative that someone helps coordinate all of the development. That person is Greg Giuffrida.

Giuffrida has served as the Memorial Drive Corridor Executive for Central Atlanta Progress for 18 months, helping set the vision for how Memorial Drive moves forward.

An on-again, off-again resident in Atlanta since he was six years old, Giuffrida has a master’s in City and Regional Planning from Georgia Tech and has lived in Reynoldstown and Ormewood Park for nearly a decade.

We met up with Giuffrida to get the lowdown on the Memorial Drive corridor for this installment of Field Note Fridays.

CURBED ATLANTA: Memorial Drive is rapidly transforming, with an array of new mixed-use projects and housing going up along its length. What has the process been like since you got involved?

GREG GIUFFRIDA: Extremely busy. I first became involved as a graduate student working on the “Imagine Memorial” study commissioned in Fall 2014 by Councilmember Natalyn Archibong and led by former Atlanta Planning Commissioner Mike Dobbins. I stayed involved after that study was completed and worked with various stakeholders to create a full-time role to carry on the work.

One thing some folks don’t realize is how far back ideas for the Memorial Drive Corridor go. Much of what’s happening right now is being built on decades of organization and advocacy by residents, business owners and elected leaders like Councilmember Carla Smith. The combination of the real estate recovery, the Beltline, and some wider demographic trends have accelerated development, but the framework has been in place for at least a decade. Now we’re trying to make sure we build a safer, more effective corridor that supports this growth.

CURBED ATLANTA: The growth is changing the character of the corridor immensely, with many industrial spaces that have been in the area for generations being forced out. What are the consequences of this?

GIUFFRIDA: You would have to ask each property owner whether they felt “forced out.” Some of the properties have been vacant or underused for years, waiting for the right offer. Some are making a straightforward economic decision to sell for a profit and relocate. Keeping industrial jobs within the city is essential to having a diverse economy with good-paying jobs for a range of people. That’s where tax abatement, grants, loans, job training, and other tools from Invest Atlanta and other agencies can be useful. But those tools can’t always change the math. Some property owners are going to sell.

Read the complete interview at the link above.