Decatur Awarded $100K Grant To Study Development At East Lake MARTA Station

Now that the redevelopment of the giant Avondale MARTA parking-scape is underway, the focus has turned to the city’s third – and least utilized – MARTA station.  East Lake!

The Atlanta Regional Commission recently announced its annual Livable Cities Initiative Grants.  Among the 10 recipients is the City of Decatur, which received $100,000 to…

…develop conceptual plans for development at the East Lake MARTA Station and pedestrian/bicycle connections to surrounding neighborhoods and amenities.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

22 thoughts on “Decatur Awarded $100K Grant To Study Development At East Lake MARTA Station”

    1. Presumably both, though the study will determine what makes the most sense.

      It would be in Decatur’s interests overall (IMO) to develop the Parkwood side in its entirety and, south of the tracks, the half of the station area adjacent to Oakview Road, as those areas all fall within the city limits.

  1. Hopefully whatever development happens there will include improvements to pedestrian access on the north side. There is no elevator and only one escalator, making it extremely difficult for people with strollers.

  2. I advised a student project at GT, 3-4 years ago, who utilized ridership data provided by MARTA. If my memory is correct, East Lake was the least utilized (in terms of exit/entries to/from the train station) train station on all of MARTA.

    (I also think this is why they re-routed the #2 bus there — a lot of riders are train transfers — but that’s just total speculation by me and not necessarily grounded in hard facts)

      1. According to MARTA’s website East Lake now has more daily entries than Vine City and Candler Park. I think that number will continue to climb because the redevelopment at Avondale station has reduced the parking capacity there dramatically. I understand MARTA’s desire to develop the unused parking lots but they need to study trends to make sure they don’t end up with a parking space shortage on the east line. The reality is a LOT of riders drive their personal cars to stations.

        On the #2 bus point – I learned from someone who rides it that ridership is down with the move to EL.

        1. Excellent point. The parking lot at EL is probably the primary factor which encourages me to take MARTA to midtown. I live in Oakhurst, and can easily drive, park, and ride. But without the parking, I would just drive.

    1. In general, MARTA is required by FTA to preserve all parking that is being used regularly. They know what % of parking is being used and what % typically sits dormant. If they develop a parking lot, they must replace the number of utilized spaces. This would likely happen in a shared parking deck, as is happening at Avondale. The benefits of developing the land around MARTA stations, which “locks in” riders who live and work just outside the gates, are abundant and far exceed the benefits of keeping the land encased in asphalt hoping that cars show up every once in a while. This concept of circling stations with parking has proven, over the last 40 years, as not a great model for MARTA, at least for most stations and certainly not EL (see ridership numbers). The current initiative to better utilize/densify the land seems to be a winner on many fronts.

  3. I’m not arguing that the lots aren’t too big, but the past may not be predictive of the future. As parking in downtown and midtown Atlanta gets more scarce and expensive, more people are going to ride MARTA and most of them will need to drive to and park at a station.

    1. I wouldn’t say that a lot of people “need” to drive and park there. Rather, a lot of people choose to drive and park at MARTA stations. Many people in Decatur are within a 1 mile walk or bike ride to a MARTA train station, which is a very reasonable distance to go without a car.

      1. Well … OK. I walk to EL because I live close, but one of my co-workers lives in Clairmont Heights so he drives. There are many other people using EL to access MARTA who don’t live “close” to the station. Some ride the buses that come up from south DeKalb and many drive. Hopefully as rail ridership increases MARTA will add buses to feed the station.

        1. Unfortunately, in the almost 3 decades that I’ve lived around here, I’ve only seen bus routes subtracted, never added.

      2. We need to get to work on breaking the current paradigm in Atlanta that everything should be designed and built with car travel in mind — even in the city! Downtown Decatur is one shining counterpoint to this thinking, where a thriving downtown placed a rail station at its heart without miles of parking lots surrounding it. Instead, there’s a vibrant mixture of housing, retail and restaurants. A civic hub where people can walk, bike and enjoy life. It can happen in Atlanta too if we start to think differently.

          1. Can you elaborate, Steve? The history I’ve always heard is that it was MARTA who didn’t want the station downtown, preferring instead the cost effectiveness of continuing to run down the CSX right of way. It was city leaders at the time who believed that the city’s black/white divide, which was physically embodied in the rail line, would become permanent and irreversible if access was further limited by fenced off track. It was they (as I’ve always heard it) who insisted the line run through the center of town.

      3. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would like to make a habit of biking or walking to a MARTA station and I am not in favor of keeping an oversupply of parking but I just wonder if usage of parking around MARTA stations will change with changes in commuting patterns (macarolina made a good point below about the future reconfiguration of DeKalb Ave.) and just things like more people using cars to get to stations like Avondale and Eastlake on poor weather days when riding bike or walking would be undesirable to many people. I just don’t want MARTA to go the opposite direction around these stations and create a new problem with lack of parking.

  4. The transformation of the under-utilized MARTA parking lots is a great development and long overdue, imo. The stations on the east line were bad designs (Decatur too, initially; now it’s arguably the best implemented station in the system) and will be much improved. On the north side,the anti-density NIMBYs blocked the redevelopment of the Brookhaven station, but that will likely be to the gain of Chamblee (which is getting its first class-A office space on an unused MARTA lot) and Doraville (though not an official MARTA project, Assembly will now have less competition for tenants).

  5. I hope future East Lake station parking projections include all the cars chased off of DeKalb Ave by the third lane closure…

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