Prologue Piedmont Heights is the oldest community in Atlanta. The area was first settled almost 200 years ago and as more homesteaders arrived a township called Easton coalesced among the cluster of farms. Although Easton never achieved city status, and is now all but forgotten, over the years the modern community it spawned has evolved into Atlanta’s most unique inner-city neighborhood.
Beginnings In 1822 Benjamin Plaster settled on 3,000 acres of land along Peachtree Creek in Dekalb County, Georgia which he was granted in recognition of his military service during the War of 1812. This event occurred at least two years before Archibald Holland acquired a tract several miles to the east where a village called Terminus was founded in 1937, later to become the city of Atlanta.
Plaster’s tract was former Cherokee Indian tribal land and featured a prominent rocky knoll, called “Council Bluff”, where the chiefs held important meetings, situated in the northern part of today’s Piedmont Heights neighborhood. Plaster built a bridge across Peachtree Creek and the trail to it became known as Plaster’s Bridge Road. The stone abutments of his bridge remain in place today under the current Piedmont Road Bridge. Short sections of the old road still exist as well one, now called Plasters Avenue, running along the northern boundary of Piedmont Heights and another, renamed Piedmont Circle, in the northeast corner of the neighborhood.
In 1835 a one-room log schoolhouse was built near Council Bluff, at the intersection of today’s Piedmont Road and Rock Springs Road, beside a “cool, clear sparkling spring” bubbling from under a rock and the area became known as the Rock Spring Community.
Around 1850 Captain Hezekiah Cheshire arrived from South Carolina. His sons, Napoleon and Jerome, settled on opposite sides of the south fork of Peachtree Creek and built a bridge across it to connect their farms near the present intersection of Piedmont Road and Faulkner Road. The bridge became a local landmark and the road to it became known as Cheshire Bridge Road.
As other settlers followed, a township called Easton grew up along Clear Creek, a tributary of Peachtree Creek, on the site of today’s Ansley Mall at Piedmont Road and Monroe Drive, where Walker’s Mill (also known as Jones’ Mill) ginned the local farmer’s cotton and ground their corn.
In 1864 when General Sherman’s soldiers swept through Georgia on his Civil War march to the sea General T.J. Wood’s troops were entrenched on the eastern edge of Easton, putting the community on the periphery of the battle of Atlanta. After the war the little log schoolhouse was rebuilt and Professor Joel Mable, a Scottish Presbyterian, arrived from North Carolina and expanded its curriculum to include religious principles and technical training.
In the mid-1860s Civil War veteran Captain James M. Liddell acquired 40 acres in the Rock Spring Community and built a two-story house, now the second oldest in Atlanta, on Montgomery Ferry Road across from Council Bluff.
In 1868 Professor Mable organized the Union Sunday School in Rock Springs and began holding meetings in the schoolhouse. The Rock Spring Presbyterian Church was formed in 1870 and the following year a church building was erected on the school house site. The Atlanta Constitution newspaper described the church as “…on a level and beautiful spot with a noble forest growth around it is a neat-looking attractive church, flanked by a cozy little school house…” The cornerstone of the present church on the site was laid in 1922 and was designed by noted English architect Henry Hopson who designed several other churches in Atlanta. Hezekiah Cheshire was a charter member of the church (in 1870) and today the seventh generation of his descendants is active in the congregation and funded a book on the history of the church and the community.
In the 1870s the Atlanta and Richmond Air Line Railway opened and a depot was located at Easton. The Air Line Belle train, said to be the finest on the line, began daily service between Atlanta and Toccoa, Georgia. There was no bridge over Clear Creek at the time and folks in Easton commuted to Atlanta by train. The rail line serving Easton was called the “Southern Railway Belt Line” and in 1883 the “Georgia Pacific Belt Line Railroad” connected with it just north of Easton at Belt Junction, which later became known as Armour Station, then Armour Yards and today as Armour/Ottley.
The train depot and soon a U.S. Post Office in Easton spurred the growth of the township to 100 residents by 1888 although the surrounding area remained rural in character and remained mostly devoted to farming and dairying for several decades to come.
In 1895 North Boulevard was built, running parallel to the railroad, as a main route into Atlanta.
In 1904 the post office closed but the Ansley Park neighborhood opened across Clear Creek the same year and spurred new interest in the Easton area which was annexed by Fulton County in 1912 and renamed Piedmont Heights. Then, in 1918, the Air Line Belle discontinued service. Piedmont Heights remained the “country” to Atlanta residents and in 1924 the Governor’s Horse Guard Stables were relocated there near Montgomery Ferry Road.
In 1928 the City of Atlanta began annexing Piedmont Heights, first taking in the lots on North Boulevard. In the 1930s a new home could be bought for $4,700 on North Boulevard or Wimbledon Road, a crossroad connecting North Boulevard and Plaster’s Bridge Road.
A Neighborhood in name only In the early 1940s W. L. Monroe bought 15 acres on North Boulevard at the intersection with Wimbledon Road where he operated a popular nursery for many years, attracting other businesses and residents to the area. Remnants of two small stone structures that Monroe built, resembling English garden “follies,” remain today on the grounds of the Ansley-Monroe Villas Condominiums. Later North Boulevard was renamed Monroe Drive in honor of Mr. Monroe. During this period the Twelve Oaks restaurant at the intersection of Piedmont Road and Cheshire Bridge Road became a favorite destination for teenagers wanting to get out of Atlanta and away from their parents.
By the late 1940s Piedmont Heights was experiencing fast residential growth on Flagler Avenue and North Boulevard, spreading up Rock Springs Road to the newer Allen Road and Piedmont Way, but most of the land remained undeveloped. There was a small cluster of buildings around the intersection of North Boulevard and Piedmont Road but the land along Clear Creek from Piedmont Road to Montgomery Ferry Road was completely vacant. The land west of North Boulevard all the way to Rock Springs Road was undeveloped except for the Liddell House on Montgomery Ferry Road and a scattered few others. North of Wimbledon Road it was all heavy forest.
Because Piedmont Heights had no official neighborhood boundaries yet its edges were susceptible to expropriation. The most significant “bite” occurred in the late 1940s when a large swath of right-of-way was acquired in the northern part of the community to build Interstate Highway 85. The new highway was elevated on earth fill which created a physical barrier between Piedmont Heights and the Armour/Ottley area which limited its access to a single street off North Boulevard, and funneled heavy truck traffic through the neighborhood. In addition, the highway access ramps began to clog Piedmont Heights with commuter traffic and impede residents’ access to their homes.
In 1951, a newly formed church in the abutting Morningside neighborhood needed a building site and purchased a 14-acre tract between Piedmont Road and Montgomery Ferry Road where they erected the Morningside Baptist Church.
Because Piedmont Heights developed slowly and haphazardly along the old farm roads and early highways it had no organized street grid, unlike the later surrounding neighborhoods. Over time the residential area became more and more confined by the heavily traveled thoroughfares. Only North Boulevard ran north and south completely through the neighborhood and a shortage of cross streets resulted in intersections almost a quarter-mile apart. The almost total lack of sidewalks made it impossible for residents to walk safely inside the community. Until recently, only three streets had sidewalks. Two more have since received sidewalks, but only on one side. Today many residents still walk in the streets to visit neighbors or frequent the nearby businesses.
Piedmont Heights Civic Club On the evening of October 12, 1956 a group of one hundred and three residents met at the Rock Spring Presbyterian Church and formed the Piedmont Heights Civic Club to protect the “vitality and beauty of the neighborhood” which was severely threatened by urbanization from the growing, sprawling City of Atlanta. The group adopted bylaws and elected Mr. Howard Allison President. Atlanta Mayor Hartsfield attended the meeting which lasted until 11:30 p.m. The minutes of the meeting defined the boundaries of the neighborhood as the area bounded by “Piedmont Road, Montgomery Ferry Drive, Belt Line Railroad, Expressway, Plaster Road to Piedmont.” The City’s official map of Piedmont Heights, however, encompassed a far larger area.
In the fall of 1957 the Stein Printing Company asked to re-zone a land parcel on Monroe Drive (formerly North Boulevard) to build a printing plant on the northern edge of the residential area. Negotiations between Stein and the Civic Club were facilitated by City officials including the Urban Renewal Director, the Director of the Metropolitan Planning Commission, the Joint City-County Planning Board, City Planning and Zoning Committee and the City Board of Alderman. The result was the donation to the Civic Club of 2-1/2 acres of land to buffer for the existing homes. Initially called Monroe Park, in 1961 the property was formally dedicated as Gotham Way Park but which remained essentially unimproved, except for some playground equipment, for the next 45 years.
This dramatic rezoning was only the first of many to follow and which slowly ate away at the undeveloped land in the neighborhood, eventually fixing the number of single family lots at roughly 470. Since then many of those have been developed with duplexes or triplexes and even some single-family homes have been subdivided into apartments - one large house contains eight units.
In 1964 Ansley Mall was developed at the corner of Piedmont Road and Monroe Drive near where the old Easton train depot used to be. It boasted a 35,000 square foot Colonial super market and 24 other retail stores, later adding a 175-seat mini-cinema. Over the years the mall has expanded to over 50 stores with a smaller strip center across Monroe Drive called Ansley II. Other businesses followed including Ansley Square on the opposite side of Clear Creek, eventually commercializing three of the four corners of the intersection and slowly spreading northward up Piedmont Road converting houses into restaurants and business offices...
In 1959 the Civic Club was granted non-profit status (discontinued later for unknown reasons) and in 1992 reorganized itself as the Piedmont Heights Civic Association (PHCA). However, since only homeowners could be full voting members it continued to devote its attention to the single-family district. This focus was so strong that as late as 1994 the PHCA Board Meeting minutes record a discussion to redraw the neighborhood boundaries to exclude “…all commercial districts and Morningside Park Apartments.” Although the Board took no action at the time to change its official boundaries, as late as 2005 the Association’s map of Piedmont Heights still focused on the single-family area. Ironically, by then several apartment complexes had been built in the neighborhood with a combined number of dwelling units over twice that of the single-family district.
Planning Committee With the arrival of the twenty-first century, the neighborhood dynamic began to change. Younger couples began moving in, traffic became more unbearable and there was a growing problem with undesirable businesses opening in certain areas of the neighborhood. Fortunately, the PHCA Board began to evolve also. Fore years it had been dominated by a core group, some of whom had served many years, to include newer residents with more energy and fresh ideas.
In 2005 the City announced the Atlanta BeltLine, a public transit system which would circle the city and run the length of the neighborhood’s western border in the old Air Line Belle railroad corridor, promising that one day Piedmont Heights’ residents would be able to “commute to Atlanta” again.
The following year PHCA formed a Planning Committee, the first for the neighborhood, to prepare for the anticipated new development related to the BeltLine, changing neighborhood demographics and the ever worsening traffic problems. The first action of the committee’s was to update the neighborhood’s map to match that of the City. The new map revealed that single-family homes represented less than 1/4 of the total number of dwelling units and barely 1/3 of the land area. Almost 50% of the neighborhood was non-residential with a broad mix of commercial uses.
The BeltLine’s proposed redevelopment plans for Piedmont Heights included two transit stations but focused mainly on the north and south commercial districts of the neighborhood where higher densities and multi-story buildings were projected. The PHCA Planning Committee, however, felt the plans fell short of resolving traffic congestion and overall neighborhood infrastructure issues.
An invasion of land speculators and developers ensued, each trying to get ahead of the other and the expected real estate boom. Several large multi-family and multi-use developments were announced. Although only one apartment complex and a few townhouses were actually built, the number of residential units in the neighborhood increased virtually overnight from approximately 1,500 to over 2,000.
A more comprehensive master plan for Piedmont Heights prepared by the neighborhood was clearly needed. To begin the process PHCA asked the Livable Communities Coalition to facilitate a workshop for its Board members to develop objectives for the neighborhood’s future. The exercise produced a list of goals but the primary recommendation was that Piedmont Heights needed first to engage its neighbors and develop working relationships with them all.
Piedmont Heights is located at dead center of a cluster of seven neighborhoods plus the huge Armour/Ottley industrial area on the north and a transitioning commercial district on the east. It is severely impacted by a unique convergence of transportation infrastructure which includes the interstate highway, several major thoroughfares, a MARTA rail line, the Atlanta BeltLine, the AMTRAK rail line, several commercial rail lines, and multiple surface streets interconnecting the six abutting neighborhoods. This means that Piedmont Heights can’t solve its infrastructure problems solely within its own borders. The Planning Committee next created a second map illustrating Piedmont Heights within this larger context, which it labeled “Greater Piedmont Heights,” and began to engage its neighbors.
The Civic Association also expanded its communications network internally to all residents and businesses to broaden its data base of neighborhood liabilities, assets and opportunities. The majority of residents in Piedmont Heights, mostly renters, previously had no contact with, nor much interest, in PHCA activities. Although its bylaws provided for “supporting” memberships, albeit without voting rights, there were none on the rolls. The roughly 200 PHCA regular members represented a small fraction of the households in Piedmont Heights and PHCA had none from the business community.
Blueprints Piedmont Heights In 2007, while planners for the BeltLine, MARTA, the Georgia Department of Transportation and private developers were developing their various plans in and around Greater Piedmont Heights, PHCA was pondering how to create its own master plan. Hoping perhaps for help from a planning student intern from the Georgia Tech School of Urban Planning, a PHCA Board member placed a telephone call to Professor Michael Dobbins, former Atlanta Planning Commissioner and Georgia Conservancy Board member. This resulted in a commitment from the Georgia Conservancy to conduct a “Blueprints for Successful Communities” exercise for the neighborhood.
Representatives from all the abutting neighborhoods and the non-residential districts in Greater Piedmont Heights were invited to participate as stakeholders and Blueprints Piedmont Heights was produced. $11,225 was raised to cover the cost of the project, the majority from businesses in Piedmont Heights. In appreciation for their support PHCA made these businesses Supporting Members, the first on record and an important step toward bringing the neighborhood together.
In the fall of 2007 PHCA celebrated its 50th Anniversary with its eyes turned to the future.
Then a local television station purchased a building on the old Stein property and proposed to build an addition which would infringe on the Gotham Way Park buffer. Negotiations eventually resulted in a contribution from the station of $70,000 for additional landscaping in the buffer and other park improvements. A master plan for the park, which had been on hold for lack of funding, was soon implemented and the vacant site finally became a real park. The following year PHCA membership increased by 20% and, overall, the future looked bright.
In 2008 the Atlanta City Council expanded the neighborhood’s boundaries to include a portion of the Armour/Ottley industrial area. Although the action which was quickly reversed, it served to focus the neighborhood’s attention for the first time on the nature and potential of this huge area.
Armour/Ottley had previously been viewed simply as the location of the rather benign MARTA train yards, a lumber yard and two cement plants which generated disruptive truck traffic through the neighborhood. A closer look revealed an unexpected mixed-use community. Small businesses including a locksmith, pet groomer, service station with snack bar, caterers, interior designers, professional offices, 350 apartments, and even a church. One particular cluster of businesses had named itself “Sweetwater Design District” after the popular Sweetwater Brewery in its midst which regularly sponsored social events. Armour/Ottley was actually a surprisingly vibrant, exciting district and not such a bad neighbor after all. But, most notably of all, many of the buildings were owner-occupied, which represented stability and committed anchors in the area.
As BeltLine planning proceeded, Blueprints Piedmont Heights’ residents played significant roles. PHCA members assumed leadership positions as volunteers and Piedmont Heights was often cited by BeltLine planners as an example other neighborhoods should emulate. The Blueprints future concept for the Ansley Mall area was incorporated into the BeltLine plans to convert it from a “strip” center into a “town center” with small blocks, streetscapes, pedestrian plazas and improved connectivity to the Piedmont Heights’ residential areas as well as the abutting neighborhoods.
Planning activity by others soon began rippling throughout Greater Piedmont Heights and beyond. The Lindridge/Martin Manor neighborhood did a Blueprints project, a Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition was formed and created the “North Fork Trail Study” for a Peachtree Creek greenway and the South Fork Conservancy designed the “Confluence Trail” along Peachtree Creek’s South Fork. A Cheshire Bridge Business Association began to form to revitalize the Cheshire Bridge Road corridor and the Clifton Corridor Coalition was busy developing plans for a transit line connecting Emory University to MARTA and the BeltLine in the Armour/Ottley area.
To lay further groundwork for its master plan PHCA next compiled an “atlas” of Piedmont Heights, assisted by Architect David Green, delineating all its physical characteristics such as topography, flood plains, parcel lines and land uses as well as a conceptual plan identifying areas which had redevelopment potential. Then, Atlanta’s Department of Transportation initiated the “Connect Atlanta” plan, the City’s first comprehensive transportation plan and sought input from the City’s neighborhoods. David helped prepare a detailed submittal from Piedmont Heights identifying all the vehicular and pedestrian problem areas with a spread sheet describing the proposed changes.
A Thousand Pictures The many plans done by others over the previous decade created a multiplicity of scenarios for Greater Piedmont Heights with widely conflicting concepts which, if were all realized, would result in a chaos of uncoordinated development. As PHCA characterized it, “A picture may be worth a thousand words, but Greater Piedmont Heights is faced with a thousand pictures - which do not fit together.” The future of Greater Piedmont Heights hung in the balance.
While the BeltLine plans demonstrated how transit would improve inter-neighborhood connectivity they also awakened Piedmont Heights to an unexpected multi-modal opportunity in the Armour/Ottley industrial area. There the BeltLine could merge via a multi-modal station with MARTA, Amtrak, the proposed Clifton Corridor transit line, highway I-85 and multiple surface streets to create a transportation nexus unique in Atlanta. Ironically, this opportunity was enmeshed in a tangle of independent authorities as well as complicated by overlying political jurisdictions of both Fulton and Dekalb Counties, four State Representative Districts, two Atlanta City Council Districts and three Neighborhood Planning Units. Fortunately, the linkages Piedmont Heights had forged with surrounding neighborhoods and business districts had generating much stakeholder awareness of the need for a comprehensive transit vision for the greater community.
In June, 2011 PHCA asked Georgia Conservancy to facilitate another workshop, again with all the stakeholders in Greater Piedmont Heights, to review the four-year old Blueprints Piedmont Heights documents and focus on important issues in light of current conditions. Several architects, a transportation planner, an expert on Peachtree Creek and the Chair of Neighborhood Planning Unit F guided the discussion. The issues identified centered on the vehicular and pedestrian networks, connectivity with abutting neighborhoods and green space - the underlying framework of the greater community. The most important message from the event was that “change will happen, it should be anticipated, it will be incremental, continued stakeholder participation will be critical and success will depend upon ongoing communications between all the neighborhoods.”
PHCA needed to determine who should design the master plan - and who better than planners most familiar with the area; Peter Drey (Peter Drey Architects) who had designed an innovative plan for the Buford Highway/Monroe Drive corridor, John Wyle (Rosser International) who had designed a proposal for a Peachtree Creek recreational greenway through Armour/Ottley, and David Green (Perkins+Will) who had done years of planning for Piedmont Heights before, during and after the BeltLine plans were produced.
Peter, John and David knew each other well and were tough competitors but, when asked, quickly agreed to collaborate on this important project. Adding depth to this team was Heather Alhadeff, former Director of Transportation for the City of Atlanta, and Ryan Gravel, “Father of the Atlanta Beltline,” both having recently joined Perkins+Will. The Georgia Conservancy assigned urban planner Johanna McCrehan to assist. Andrew Tate volunteered to document the story of the process, hopefully as anther kind of “blueprint” for other neighborhoods clusters to utilize.
Fortunately the task consisted essentially of merging all the existing plans which eliminated a need to do the normal preliminary research and analysis. The planning team agreed to a modest fee of $15,000, a contract was signed in December, 2011 and PHCA kicked off a fundraising campaign with $1,000. The City pledged another $1,000 and many Piedmont Heights individuals and businesses who had contributed to Blueprints Piedmont Heights quickly came forward as well. This time, however, donations also came in from other neighborhoods and businesses - the largest $2,400 from the Sweetwater Design District, whose members became key participants in the planning process as well and earned much deserved recognition from the greater community.
One business executive, whose company had contributed to the Blueprints project, expressed regret that due to economic conditions he had strict orders to not spend any money not already budgeted. Then he said, “But, I think the project is so worthwhile that I will donate $500 out of my own pocket.” Two cement plants in Armour/Ottley, sources of pollution and concrete spills on neighborhood streets were acknowledged as stakeholders and one even contributed to the plan.
The realization soon emerged that Greater Piedmont Heights was not an ordinary cluster of neighborhoods and far more than the sum of its parts; a truly one-of-a-kind “greater” community of neighborhoods, businesses and residents.
By the spring of 2012 $15,200 had been raised and the planners began their work guided by the following objectives which had established in the previous year’s workshop:
1. Unify the many plans by others in and around Piedmont Heights into one implementable
master framework plan leveraging community assets, respecting the interests of all persons
and following the Hannover Principles (www.mcdonough.com/principles.pdf).
2. Modify Buford Highway, Monroe Drive and Piedmont Road for more appropriate interface
with abutting neighborhoods and to divert through traffic around residential areas.
3. Transform open space under highway I-85 and along the Peachtree Creek and Clear Creek
waterways into cultural and environmental assets.
4. Alter internal neighborhood streets and intersections for safety and walkability, to minimize
vehicle and pedestrian conflicts and encourage appropriate new development.
5. Create a plan for additional green space and a pedestrian network connecting the
neighborhood to the BeltLine, nearby trails, parks, creeks and open spaces.
6. Integrate existing and proposed transit systems to ensure minimum disruption and optimum
The BeltLine plans were the foundation to build upon as they had been developed with broad support from the neighborhoods and officially adopted by the City. However, there were two different BeltLine Subarea Plans which joined on the northern edge of Piedmont Heights but didn’t match, and showed several alternative transit, trail and station locations. Also, some of the plans by others had innovative concepts which could enhance the BeltLine plans. Adjustments would be required here and there but the intent was to adhere to the spirit of the BeltLine plans.
On March 28, 2012 the planning team held the first stakeholders meeting with over 50 people from neighborhoods and business communities in Greater Piedmont Heights in attendance. The planners presented a composite plan of the “thousand pictures” (all the plans by others) and a rough draft of how they might be molded into a unified plan. Most attendees were already familiar with the Blueprints Piedmont Heights documents, the BeltLine Master Plans and the concerns with some of the plans by others, so the ground work was well laid and objectives for a new plan clear.
As planning proceeded during the summer reports went out monthly to over 80 stakeholders in the surrounding neighborhoods, the industrial and business districts, Neighborhood Planning Units E and F, various civic organizations and others with an interest in Greater Piedmont Heights, which included Atlanta City Council Member Alex Wan and Georgia State Representative Patricia Gardner.
The final stakeholder presentation of the “Greater Piedmont Heights Master Framework Plan” was held on September 13, 2012 and enthusiastically received by a group approximately 40 residents and other stakeholders. What emerged from the original potpourri of plans was a tapestry of the best ideas and concepts woven into an exciting vision for a “much greater” Piedmont Heights.
The plan is composed of several “layers” which address streets and intersection improvements, future transit alignments and station locations, flood plain, topography, green space and so forth. Its most unique feature is an ingenious new road network with European-style roundabouts which allows commuter traffic to flow uninterrupted around the neighborhood residential areas.
A grand plaza underneath the elevated I-85 highway reunites Piedmont Heights with the Armour/Ottley area, its several hundred apartment residents and the Sweetwater Design District. A recreational greenway along Peachtree Creek links up with the Lindridge LaVista Corridor Coalition North Fork trail and the South Fork Conservancy greenway and trail system. A proposed multi-modal station in the Armour/Ottley area integrates multiple existing and proposed transit systems to provide access to all parts of the city and beyond.
Monroe Drive becomes a true neighborhood street, narrowed from four lanes to two, with turn lanes, bicycle lanes, a landscaped median and multiple crosswalks. A reconfigured business district organized around the BeltLine Arboretum Water Gardens on Clear Creek is anchored by a town square and two BeltLine transit stations to blend seamlessly with the residential districts and adjacent neighborhoods.
The highlight of the presentation occurred at the very end of the evening when a lady stood up and said, “I came tonight because I was against the plan - but now I’m for it!” The audience burst out in laughter and loud applause.
Small Town in the Big City An unexpected outcome of the planning exercise was the realization that Piedmont Heights is unlike any of its neighbors in surprising ways. Its over 3,000 residents occupy single-family homes, town homes, condominiums, one of Atlanta’s first co-op apartment complexes and mid-rise apartments. It has two shopping centers, two major grocery stores, two drugstores and shops of every variety providing all manners of goods and services. Piedmont Heights has 16 restaurants, a bowling alley, several bars providing entertainment and even a tattoo parlor. It has three banks, two pharmacies, doctors, dentists, veterinarians, a Red Cross Blood center, hotel, two churches, a gym, private elementary school, three gasoline stations, three auto repair shops, an automobile body shop, a bicycle repair shop and, certainly not least of all, the landmark “Gorilla Car Wash” rounding out the mix.
Although Piedmont Heights is far evolved from its bucolic roots and 1940s post-war suburban character, the new framework plan harks back to its township roots. Soon BeltLine transit will replace the old Air Line Belle, Clear Creek will become an attractive centerpiece for a revitalized business district and residents will be able to walk throughout the neighborhood on safe sidewalks. Today Piedmont Heights rightly prides itself as a unique mixed-use, mixed-income, integrated neighborhood of residents, businesses and institutions - a true total community. The Piedmont Heights Civic Association, inspired by its new plan and vision for the future, recently updated its bylaws to be more inclusive and pro-active with regard to the interests of all in Piedmont Heights.
Although Easton was never more than a small village, Piedmont Heights has all the components of a small town. If picked up and put down 50 miles outside Atlanta it would be just as self-sufficient as any small municipality. The well-over 100 businesses in Piedmont Heights provide all manner of shopping, restaurants, services and goods for its residents as well as the adjacent neighborhoods.
One could rightly say that Piedmont Heights is really a “small town in the big city”.
Epilogue In 2013 the Greater Piedmont Heights Master Framework Plan received an “Award of Excellence” from the City of Atlanta Urban Design Commission, the Georgia Planning Association cited it as an “Outstanding Planning Document” and a past president of the Atlanta Chapter of the American Institute of Architects praised the plan as “Very nicely done!” with “…good/practical solutions.”