Jan 292016

Get ready! Get registered! #cbenola

A photo posted by City Building Exchange (@citybuildingex) on

Rated by past attendees as “an exceptional value” with “a wealth of reliable information and implementable strategies,” the CityBuilding Exchange is a fast-paced program designed for community decision-makers.

The focus of the CityBuilding Exchange is on the fiscal and economic consequences of city-building options – development, transportation, parking, housing, retail, codes, vitality and nightlife management, new town center design for suburban areas, architecture and city identity.

Urbanists out for a walk about. #cbenola

A photo posted by City Building Exchange (@citybuildingex) on

Early Registration for the March 10-11 CityBuilding Exchange ends on February 16th. Tickets are $395 ($495 after February 16th) and the speaker roster is excellent, including Joe Minicozzi and Andrés Duany. Check out the agenda here.

Dates: March 10-11

Location: Entrepreneurs Row, 220 Camp Street, 2nd Floor Ballroom
New Orleans, Louisiana

Registration: $395 until Feb. 16th, $495 after Feb. 16th.

Register now!

For more information on the CityBuilding Exchange, click here.

Jan 292016


Want to see what our friends at CNU Florida have been up to? Sign up now for the 2016 CNU Florida Summit in Seaside, Feb 18-19 to hear about various statewide transportation and development projects presented by State agency representatives, climate change response initiatives from different regions of the state, emerging greenways and trails, new publications by CNU Florida members, and many speakers including Atlanta’s own Ryan Gravel & CNU Founder Andrés Duany.

Early bird registration ends on February 1st, with rates for CNU member at $150 per ticket and $200 for non-member. After Feb. 1st, full-priced tickets will be $225 except for full-time faculty and students ($40). Click here to register. Click here to see accommodations in Seaside.

Dates: Thursday, February 18, 2016 at 1:00 PM Friday, February 19, 2016 at 6:00 PM (CST)

Location: Seaside – Assembly Hall Seaside, FL 32459

Contact: Anthea Gianniotes, cnuflorida@tcrpc.org, 772-221-4060


The Summit is two days packed with lectures, panels, and conversations, but there are other urbanist events occurring that week, too:

Seaside Institute Workshop
Tuesday and Wednesday February 16-17,
Dr. Toby Israel
Home Design Psychology: Design from Within (6 CEU credits)
Passerine Concert, David Brain on dobro
Thursday, February 18, 7:00pm
Topsail Hill Preserve State Park
Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Annual Seaside Prize Ceremonies (www.seasideinstitute.org)
Package Price for Friday Salon, Lecture, Seaside Prize Ceremony and Dinner:  $150.
Friday, February 19
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Seaside Salon – Gather with your friends for drinks and small bites.
$40 (Included with package only).
Seaside Academic Village Courtyard
Saturday, February 20
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Douglas Duany Lecture and Discussion: “The Design of Organic Urbanism:  Eight Steps and Three Concepts”
$50, 3 credit hours
Seaside Assembly Hall
5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Seaside Prize Ceremony Honoring Douglas Duany
Presenters:  Andres Duany, Robert Davis, Peter Swift and Michael Lykoudis.
*Free and open to the public.*
Seaside Chapel
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
Seaside Prize Ceremony Dinner
Seaside Assembly Hall
Sunday, February 21, 2016
10:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Seaside Landscape Tour with Douglas and his brother, Andres.
$40 Session (limited to 40), 2 credit hours
Meet in the Seaside Academic Village
Jan 292016

River_St_in_Savannah,_GeorgiaEverybody in Atlanta is talking urbanism lately, but we’re not the only ones in Georgia; down in Savannah, urbanism is the talk of the town, too.

As the first conference in the Savannah Urbanism series, “The Dollars and Sense of Urbanism” will explore how planning, design, and development patterns impact a community’s financial health. Choices in envisioning the future can help or hurt a community’s bottom line, in ways not often considered. As Savannah plans for future infrastructure and development, come be part of the conversation to discuss how to maximize the City’s own economic opportunity and quality of life.

Joe Minicozzi (Urban 3) and Chuck Marohn (Strong Towns) are both highly sought-after national speakers, taking on a range of urban design, planning, and policy issues in a frank and entertaining manner. At this event, they will challenge perceptions on the market forces and policies shaping our cities. In their own unique ways, these speakers will demonstrate why thoughtful planning matters, and how it benefits our everyday lives.

Waterfront Savannah Historic District at night

The Dollars and Sense of Urbanism is presented by Mopper Kelly Realtors & Savannah Development and Renewal Authority.

Date: Feb. 25th, 9 AM – 3 PM

Location: Savannah Station, 601 Cohen Street, Savannah, GA 31401

Registration: $40 or $25 for students

9:30-12:00: Speakers
12:00-1:00: Lunch
1:00-3:00: Q&A Session

Want a little preview of Chuck’s talk? Check out his podcast on Newtonian Economics from early January or Strong Towns’ series on The Growth Ponzi Scheme.

Jan 122016

Interested in the intersections of preservation and economic development? Wondering how the National Main Street Center has been successful here in Georgia?

As seen in Downtown Decatur.

As seen in Downtown Decatur.

Please join CNU Atlanta and Leigh Burns from the Georgia Main Street Program on January 21st at Steel Restaurant & Bar in Midtown Atlanta to learn more about the impact the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA)’s 100+ programs statewide have on Georgia’s successful downtowns.

Leigh Burns is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Office of Downtown Development, Georgia Department of Community Affairs where she supports the success of more than one hundred Georgia Main Street Programs.  Before joining the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in 2014, Ms. Burns worked for numerous years with the Historic Preservation Division, Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Ms. Burns has fifteen years of historic preservation planning experience including internships with the National Park Service and the Historic Oakland Foundation. She received a Masters of Heritage Preservation Degree from Georgia State University in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia. In 2014, Ms. Burns was awarded an Award of Excellence from the Atlanta Urban Design Commission and she serves as a board member on both the Georgia Downtown Association and the Georgia Alliance of Preservation Commissions.

As usual, the program will run from 5:30 t0 7:00 PM with networking before and Q&A after the presentation, and light hors d’oeuvres will be served; however, you’ve got to get your own drink on. See you soon!


GA Main Street - Full Color Logo

Dec 222015
On behalf of the Board of CNU Atlanta, we would like to thank you for your support. If you’ve just joined CNU Atlanta, it’s great to have you; if you’ve been a member for a while now, we can’t thank you enough. We would like to give you a brief recap of what we, and some of our partner organizations, have been up to lately. Frankly, it has been quite a year: busy and productive.

At the beginning of the month, we hosted our 4th Annual–FOURTH– Winter Luncheon and we were honored to have Ryan Gravel exclusively speak to us about his latest and greatest projects: his book, Where We Want To Live, and his new firm Sixpitch. The event was sold out, filling The Shed at Glenwood Park with faces old and new. Thanks to all who joined us!

But just in the past week and a half, we’ve been spending more time in the community, co-hosting Atlanta Green Drinks’ “A Year In Green” party and talking to around 700 people, attending YPT Atlanta’s Holiday Party at Proof & Provision, and going to Southface’s wonderful Winter Solstice party. It is great to see so much activity and excitement around the tenets of New Urbanism in Atlanta.

Candler & Liza at Atlanta Green Drinks' "A YEAR IN GREEN" party.

Candler & Liza at Atlanta Green Drinks’ “A YEAR IN GREEN” party.

More than that though, 2015 was a big year for CNU Atlanta. We started the year off by taking a look at how Atlanta has changed since CNU 18. We had our first annual Summer Luncheon featuring Sally Flocks, President of PEDS; Jim Durrett, Executive Director of Buckhead CID; and Kevin Klinkenberg, author of Why I Walk: Taking a Step in the Right Direction. We had a full slate of monthly T3s (Thirsty Third Thursdays) held primarily at Steel in Midtown on a wide variety of topics. We hired Candler Vinson, our first Program Manager, who has helped expand CNU Atlanta’s reach and voice in Atlanta. We co-hosted an urban scavenger hunt with students from Georgia Tech and Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health in Downtown Decatur. With The Georgia Conservancy, Kronberg Wall Architects, and The Center for Civic Innovation, we hosted the Small Scale Developer Boot Camp with John Anderson and Jim Kumon, which saw tremendous turnout. And that’s not to mention any of our partners’ and friends’ events. It’s kind of been a whirlwind.

We wouldn’t have it any other way. We’re hard at work preparing for next year’s events and we want to hear from you: If you know of an event or an organization hosting events that we should know about, don’t hesitate to share it with us. We want to see the conversation in Atlanta around these principles, of better buildings and stronger neighborhoods, of more parks and less parking, of communities that are cool and connected, continue and grow. Again, thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you next year.

The 2015-2016 CNU Atlanta General Fund Drive is underway!  Please donate to CNU Atlanta by clicking on the “Donate” button on the left side of our webpage or click here for more details.



Geoff Koski

President, CNU Atlanta

Nov 132015

South of Downtown, there’s huge opportunity in redeveloping an underutilized lot that will also be a huge boon to the local community – no, not Turner Field, but an old steel manufacturing plant. If you head downtown to Five Points and take the route 155 bus to the intersection of Cooper and Love Streets, you’ll find that old mill on Windsor Street and the folks turning it into a game-changer for the neighborhood.


787 Windsor isn’t the kind of place one would think to find a successful small-scale developer and furniture-maker like Ric Geyer, but he’s there setting up shop in the derelict warehouse at the end of the block. Despite its unappealing first impression of barbed wire fence and rusted factory, the property is kind of mystifying, an artifact from another age. According to Ric, “That original building’s probably over a hundred years old… Most likely built in the 1890’s.”11888648_890661534344292_5945357857851589670_o

As he leads me past the large sheet metal-sided building in front, the property becomes much more interesting; the walls of the buildings are covered in graffiti from the recent graffiti party Ric and his associates held a couple of weeks ago (“That was a friggin’ blast,” he adds) and lights are strung up along the corridor. The cement recedes to reveal the old rail tracks that run right up to the old warehouse as we walk towards the back of the property where the storage shed – and one day, his studio – sits. Men from the neighborhood are hard at work caulking and cementing patches around the property to try to beat the rain (or at least see what parts can be made water-tight at the moment).

Ric pulls out a map and lays it across his workbench, showing the plans for the property. “Well, we’re back here of course,” he says showing the shop’s location to the rear of the schematic, “but that’s not the interesting part – everything else is.”


The plans revolve around creating a space for artists, studios and shared spaces, that mimics Ric’s work in Detroit with the 4731 Gallery and Studios. Self-identifying as an “urban revivalist,” Ric believes that creating spaces to foster the arts in turn fosters the community. But the plans for 787 Windsor are far more ambitious than just as an arts center; also in the works are spaces for a high end restaurant, a coffee shop, a space in the front-most segment for a deconstruction/e-waste recycling operation, and even a farm stand and raised beds for a community garden. “We want to build a place that will help the community,” Ric says, and his partner (and West End resident), Imran Battla, chimes in: “Development without Displacement.”


Ric (center) and Imran (center left) with volunteers and community members at 787 Windsor.

That idea of development without displacement is the unofficial mantra for the project, of including the community in the conversation and reaching out to them for input. Ric has gone so far as to go door to door along the houses nearby to meet and talk to the people in the community. “I was talking to someone right over there,” Ric elaborated, pointing to a house down the block, “when a woman comes out of the house, yelling her head off at me and I listen, and when she’s done I just tell her to give me a hug as if I’ve been here for years, and she does!”  You’ve got to let them know that you’re not just some white guy from the ‘burbs here to change their community, but that you want to be a part of it and help it grow.” He’s talked to local gang members and guys just hanging out at nearby gas stations, too, and found to his surprise that they love what he’s doing with the lot.


Ric and his trademark grin.

“This guy drove up in his truck real slow and just parked right across the street when I was painting the side of the front building with some of the neighborhood kids, and I thought ‘oh shit,’ like ‘what’s this guy’s deal.’ And he just looked at me and looked at the kids, and looked at the wall we were painting and muttered ‘Motherfucker… that is the coolest shit!’ And boy, was I relieved,” Ric said with a laugh.

It’s that kind of community involvement, that bold openness in the future of the project, that has helped the project build so much attention so quickly.

The elephant in the room is, of course, the Turner Field redevelopment. Will its impacts reach across I-20 and help (or hinder) the “development without displacement” that Ric and his partners are aiming for? Well, it all depends on what goes in. If The City gets its way and secures a deal with Georgia State University, the impacts will probably be negligible. If casinos get their way, that would be a gamble for the future of the community and South Downtown in a broader sense. But if The City moves forward with a plan with input from Summer Hill – and ideally Mechanicsville, too – there could be resounding implications for this community. Additionally, the Atlanta BeltLine also runs just south of 787 Windsor, opening up a whole other set of questions.






But for Ric and his crew, that doesn’t matter for the future of 787 Windsor. They are moving ahead with their own plan that will result in incremental growth on site and in the community. They have already been holding events at 787 Windsor for a few months now, most recently a graffiti party open to everyone, but they also just hang out every Wednesday with anyone who wants to stop by.



Graffiti party in action.

Graffiti party in action.

After the party.

After the party.


Some of Ric's furniture.

Some of Ric’s furniture.

No bad days down at 787 Windsor.

No bad days down at 787 Windsor.

When asked why Mechanicsville, Ric’s response is pretty simple: “I love it here and I love the community around here, and I think they’ll really love this.”

Source: 787 Windsor Facebook page.

Source: 787 Windsor Facebook page.

Nov 122015

Please join us on Thursday, December 3, 2015 for CNU Atlanta’s 4th annual Winter Luncheon featuring Ryan Gravel.

Ryan Gravel.

Gravel is a nationally-recognized urban planner and designer, and most notably, the originator of the $4 billon public-private project known as the Atlanta BeltLine. This summer Ryan began the next phase in his professional journey and established a new consultancy, Sixpitch, with a focus on similar “catalyst infrastructure” projects around the world. Come to The Shed at Glenwood for a conversation with Ryan about equity, politics, and regional vision, and how Ryan is taking his experience with the Atlanta Beltline and exploring similar challenges elsewhere.

Registration is limited to 50 people and will close at 5pm on Monday, November 30th. Please contact us immediately at, atlanta@cnu.org, if you have any dietary restrictions we should know about in advance of the event.

PLEASE NOTE: ABSOLUTELY NO day of walk-ups will be possible.

When: December 3rd, 2015, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM

Location: The Shed at Glenwood

Contact: atlanta@cnu.org

Event Fees: $30.00 for CNU Members, $40.00 for Non-Members

 Register here.

Oct 232015

WP_20151013_006 1

The Small Scale Developer Boot Camp last week was a huge success. With over 120 attendees from Atlanta and beyond, we had the opportunity to listen to and engage with John Anderson and Jim Kumon of the Incremental Development Alliance. Thank all of you who attended and spread the word about this event.

For those who couldn’t come hangout for a day and a half with us, let me give you a brief recap:

On Tuesday evening, Eric Kronberg and Adam Wall hosted a Happy Hour and Pecha Kucha at their wonderful church-turned-office, featuring presentations from John Anderson, John Sanphillippo of the Granola Shotgun blog, Eric Kronberg, our own Geoff Koski, and more.

How hard is small scale development? Thunderdome hard.

How hard is small scale development? Thunderdome-hard.

Each presentation was packed with knowledge and numbers about small scale development and the “Missing Middle.” In next 20 years in Atlanta alone, we’ll need 30,000 more small-scale, multi-family, affordable housing options just to meet demand coming from Boomers and Millennials alike.

We’re trying to make civilization legal again.

Anderson gave us a preview of his presentation for the boot camp, too, explaining how we got to this missing middle dilemma and where small scale developers go from here. “At the local level, there is nothing more politically charged than real estate development,” according to Anderson. Essentially, the middle went missing because zoning policies, development financing, and popular cultural demand shifted to support more suburban development than traditional town structures, and getting back to that design paradigm now is extremely difficult despite that huge demand. “We’re trying to make civilization legal again,” Anderson added.

We kicked Wednesday off bright and early with Anderson explaining why exactly more people should become small scale developers; basically because large development firms don’t know how to do human-scaled development anymore. “Big developers are like the conductor of an orchestra that doesn’t play an instrument anymore,” he said. That task is for the people who live in a neighborhood, who know the needs of that place and, better yet, have a vision for how it should be.

Anderson continued to build on some of the topics from the night before, illustrating how exactly an individual takes a piece of property and finances it, recommended changes to zoning codes that support incremental development and complete streets, and the design requirements to keep costs down. The real key, it seems, to making great small-scale projects successful is for small scale developers to make them seem more evolutionary for a community than revolutionary. “Beige it up,” Anderson explained.

12119106_10153209132330963_2189807447881573002_nWhat does that mean? To get hesitant communities on board, to get banks to finance those projects, to make changes to zoning codes that allow for better buildings and smarter streets, small scale developers need to make their projects look less revolutionary than they may seem, and show that they are ordinary, evolutionary steps instead. “Beige.”

As for advice for those looking to transition into small scale development, he did warn against trying to assuage all community concerns. “We don’t have to be Gandhi-developers,” he said, “just not Darth Vader-developers.”

Who isn’t constantly looking at eyesores or underutilized spots brimming with potential and thinking, “that would make a helluva quadplex,” or coffee shop, or art gallery? In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking more closely at some examples of small scale developments and adaptive reuse projects around Atlanta that exemplify that potential, and the people that are making them successes.

Further viewing: The Dark Art of Developing Small Projects


Oct 052015

11025899_10152738077253321_5659162742018380568_oPark Pride has put out a call for presentations for their 15th annual Parks & Greenspace Conference at the Atlanta Botanical Garden on March 21, 2016 that will resolve the questions of “the intersectionality of parks and play;” essentially, how parks can enhance and activate the communities in which they exist.

With around 400 attendees, Park Pride’s conference is no small matter, with many organizations and groups in attendance, including the Georgia Recreation and Park Association, the American Planning Association, the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, the Urban Land Institute, the American Society of Landscape Architects, city departments, federal agencies, and, of course, yours truly.

Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki with attendees at the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Park Pride Executive Director Michael Halicki with attendees at the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Between eight and 12 proposals for presentations will be accepted, and they should be focused on four distinct topics:

  1. “Play as Placemaking,” or how a community can construct an identity around its public spaces;
  2. “Multi-Generational and Intra-Generation Play,” for creating spaces for all ages;
  3. “Design for Play,” looking at the cutting edge of public play space design and construction;
  4. And “Play Policies and Research,” the latest in data-driven strategies for promoting play.
These focus areas will then be organized into different program tracks for the conference:
  1. Park Advocate/Community Member
  2. Policy Makers/Municipality
  3. Design Professionals/Planners
Presentation and pre-conference event (on March 19th and 20th) proposals must be submitted by Monday November 2, at 5:00 PM. To submit, send all proposals to conference@parkpride.org.