Editor's note: The following is an opinion piece from a Local Voices blogger and does not necessarily reflect the views of Midtown Patch.
Not a lot of things get me going on a rant about living in Midtown more than the lack of basic services for the Central City Modern Citizen™. Yeah, you can get a phone and a bagel, or an expensive kitchen 20th century euro style makeover, but what about a minor car part? Or a new car?
Let’s go back. Well, not too far back. If you want to go back to the beginning, go here.
Back before my day in this area, I understand Midtown was generally a cool counter-culture neighborhood. It was a place of residences, and of business that supported a residence. But it was a rough area, according to local historians who frequent local bars. Always has been, since Sherman cleared the landscape.
Exit the hippies, enter the gays. As those wonderful rainbow empty nesters tend to do, they bought up, tidied up, fixed up, dwelled a while, paid copious taxes, and then flipped their ‘projects’ like Johnny Appleseeds spreading…seeds of prosperity. Families started to buy the nice rehabbed houses and family gentrification bloomed like a yard with an azalea fetishist gardener. It developed a robust night life and people came from all points to live and play in Midtown.
Because money was made, Midtown became known as a “Development Opportunity.” For some strange reason, people in charge of making such decisions decided that Midtown should be every bit as sterile as Buckhead had become, well because! Developers gobbled up empty lots (thanks to some helpful zoning changes lobbied by the local neighborhood association) to build glass monsters with *unique* architectural features, to keep them from looking like mirrored Tetris pieces.
People bought a few condos and, like housing owners of yore, refused to live in them. Who wants to live in an investment that could ‘flip’ any day? So that part of the neighborhood became less stable and more fluid with renters and corporate transient ladder climbers. They could care less beyond the needs met within a three-block area of their micro-verse. So there is a slice down the middle of Midtown made up mostly of people whose main neighborhood issue is where to get a cup of joe while preening.
Sales of exterior glass panels skyrocketed. The result is an area of Midtown known as The Midtown Mile; I prefer Glass Box Canyon. You guessed it, Midtown became every bit as pretty and empty as our equally overdeveloped competitor Buckhead on the Northern Front.
And of course, there were the pesky street folk, congregating a block from the Southern Front (North Avenue) located at Pine. They are indeed part of the Midtown Experience.
As a result, most of Glass Box Canyon is either used as rental property, reproduction farms for dust bunnies, or can’t be used for much due to restrictive *bobs head to words* Special Public Interest District zoning rules. (ex: you can open a business repairing scooters, but you can’t to repair AND sell new scooters)
The result of all of this is if you dwell in downtown/midtown and NEED something, like a new car, or a pair of Off-Broadway brand shoes, or your motorcycle serviced, even a well-stocked grocery store, you are SOL (Scootin’ Outside the Loop). Don’t even talk about that car repair place at W. Peachtree and 3rd. Just don’t go there. Literally. Westside Midtown Publix makes you pay for their rent as well. But it is better than nothing. Until it closes. Thank the Gods for Vag-Hi and Ponce Place or we would all eat out daily.
Headlight burned out? Try to find an auto supply in Midtown (west of Monroe, the Eastern Front of Midtown). Janitorial supplies? Real Mexican Food? Fast food drive through? Well, there IS Arby’s and Checkers.
So why does GM or Honda or Kroger or Off-Broadway shoes plant their locations all outside the Perimeter? I don’t want to hear about ‘population densities’ and ‘demographic profiling.’ I got all that.
So what does Midtown and Downtown have, besides artificially obscene land prices, that the Northern area does not? Hmm…let me think on this. Could it be a perception about what *certain* kind of people live here?
The irony is, the tables have turned and the customer base they want is now where the businesses are not.
Me, I just want to be able to ride my scooter to a Central business district like Decatur has and spend $ supporting local business. And you can even buy a new BMW in Decatur. Why not near Midtown Atlanta?
*Disclaimer: I own a Cooper Mini and a scooter.