Creating an environmentally sustainable neighborhood may seem complex, but its most basic tool isn’t high-tech construction or recycled materials. It’s feet.
So says Charles Brewer—a.k.a. Mr. Mindspring founder himself—who in recent years has become one of Atlanta’s leading pioneers of new urbanism. “If neighborhoods are walkable, people won’t be driving all the time,” he says. “But you also have to give them someplace to go—shops, restaurants, parks—and all of this has an environmental impact.”
The two concepts—walkable, economically diverse communities and eco-friendly construction—are married in his latest endeavor, Glenwood Park, a 28-acre community of 400 condos, townhouses and single-family homes near Grant Park. Brewer teamed up with former Post Properties exec Katharine Kelley and environmental pioneer Walter Brown five years ago in Green Street Properties to develop Glenwood Park. From energy-efficient EarthCraft homes to recycled concrete, it’s heralded as a leader in environmentally conscious development.
“When we started, there was a lot of hostility about new urbanism and green building, but over the last seven years that’s changed, with a merging of the two movements,” Brewer says. “Compared with other cities, I think Atlanta ‘got it’ first.” From a metro perspective, sprawl remains rampant, but as commute-weary Atlantans increasingly migrate into town, Brewer, who walks from his Ansley Park home to his Colony Square office, is encouraged.
“I think there is a great opportunity for Atlanta to become a real city like New York or Chicago where you don’t have to drive,” he says. “But the missing key is a transit system that runs on the street with electrified buses and street cars that’s easy to use and not just for people with no other option. In the long run, that could transform the nature of our region. That tops my wish list.”
That and maybe a new pair of sneakers.
Green Street Properties developer Charles Brewer in Glenwood Park.
OTHER ECO-FRIENDLY URBAN COMMUNITIES
Atlantic Station Live-work-play development and model for smart growth built on a 138-acre former steel mill.
Georgia Tech’s Fifth Street Project of academic, office and retail facilities, which links the campus with Midtown’s burgeoning high-rise condo community.
Green Street Properties’ 14-acre Kirkwood Forest in East Atlanta.