The People's Republic of Decatur gets plenty of accolades for doing things right.
On Friday, the American Planning Association announced the designation of downtown Decatur as one of 10 Great Neighborhoods for 2013.
Each year during National Community Planning Month APA’s Great Places in America program names 30 exemplary neighborhoods, streets and public spaces to highlight the role planning and planners play in adding value to communities, including fostering economic growth and jobs.The APA is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities.
APA singled out downtown Decatur for the neighborhood’s emphasis on:
- Transportation alternatives and mixed uses
- Community engagement and long-term commitment to downtown revitalization
- Taking measures to protect neighborhood character, such as building height limits to maintain the integrity of the downtown skyline.
“Our downtown neighborhood, built around a traditional courthouse square, is the heart and soul of Decatur and continues to evolve into a thriving, mixed-use center that is walkable, safe and inviting for people of all ages,” Mayor Jim Baskett said in a statement. “We are honored to be recognized by the American Planning Association as a Great American Neighborhood,” he added.The nine other APA 2013 Great Neighborhoods are:
- Historic Licking Riverside Neighborhood, Covington, Ky.
- West Freemason, Norfolk, Va.
- Downtown Norwich, Norwich, Conn.
- Williamson-Marquette Neighborhood, Madison, Wisc.
- Chinatown, San Francisco, Calif.
- Downtown Mason City, Mason City, Iowa
- Kenwood, Minneapolis, Minn.
- Central Street Neighborhood, Evanston, Il.
- Beaufort Historic District, Beaufort, S.C.
“Downtown Decatur is a longtime proponent of sustainable practices considering the first trolley line to operate between Decatur and Atlanta dates back to the 1840s,” said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer.
“Through its plans and revitalization efforts, downtown Decatur is managing change so the neighborhood is attractive to people of all ages, from new professionals to families with children to retirees.”
Key to the downtown area's redevelopment was the 1982 Decatur Town Center Plan, which came out of a citizen-based advisory board. Among the plan’s recommendations: renovating the MARTA station and implementing various smart growth measures including adding more downtown housing and making the area more pedestrian friendly.