Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank wants to build a world-class football stadium for the city, yet he believes that revitalizing the surrounding communities is an even more important calling.
The issue that has the potential of creating a great divide is the future routing of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive as it winds its way around the new $1.2 billion stadium. And standing in the middle of divide is another black church — Central United Methodist Church. Inevitably, Central will be impacted by whatever option is picked.
The community bought into Mayor Kasim Reed’s original vision of turning Martin Luther King into a grand boulevard that would be a gateway from the westside to downtown. And the original drawings of the stadium on the site south of the Georgia Dome showed Martin Luther King curving down to Mitchell Street but curving back up to Martin Luther King at Northside Drive.
But more recent designs showed Martin Luther King — a five-lane road — staying along Mitchell Street across Northside Drive. It would continue on that two-lane street for several blocks until Tatnall before it reunites with the legacy Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
A host of community and civic leaders, the four presidents of the historically black colleges in the area and several elected officials have described the revised plan as being unacceptable — saying it would cut off the westside from the downtown area.
Central United Methodist Church would no longer be able to let its senior citizen parishioners park along the street or organize its funeral processions along Mitchell. And access to the church would become much more difficult.
Certain city and civic leaders believe that the best design solution would be to acquire a corner of Central’s parking lot so that Martin Luther King could remain as a continuous street from south of the stadium and swing back north as it crosses Northside Drive — to the existing Martin Luther King.
Source: Saporta Report | Maria Saporta