In the fall of 2013, the Atlanta Braves announced they would be leaving their longtime home stadium, Turner Field, at the end of the 2016 season. This move will leave 77 acres of public land available for redevelopment, making it the biggest project in the area since the interstate highways were built in the 1950s. As closing day approaches, community concern for the future of the area has increased, and the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition (TFCBC) was created to advocate for inclusive planning, transparent development, and community benefits in proposed future uses. In 2015, the Coalition commissioned a comprehensive neighborhood survey to inform an area planning study funded by the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI), a program of the Atlanta Regional Commission.
The survey had multiple goals: build a neighborhood resident database; inform the LCI planning study and subsequent master and conceptual plans for the site; become the foundation for a Community Benefits Agreement that would be presented to the winning development team. To help meet these ambitious goals, Sycamore Consulting took the lead on developing, implementing, and evaluating a robust survey, bringing Urban Interactive Studio in to provide the online survey platform.
The team used an EngagingPlans website to digitize the survey, allowing them to offer a branded experience as respondents answered questions about priorities, preferences, and concerns related to the redevelopment site and surrounding neighborhoods. To improve response rates, volunteers took tablets door-to-door and asked for participation directly on the digital survey. The simplicity of the responsive interface made tablets an easy way to both get input on the spot and eliminate the need for data entry associated with paper surveys. The community also offered suggestions via an Idea Wall, where users could add thoughts or Like other ideas, giving the team a quantitative view of how much support there was for any given submission.
All told, the survey received nearly 1,800 responses, and more than 300 Idea Wall comments were submitted on the EngagingPlans website. Neighborhood priorities for the new development were incorporated into a Community Benefits Platform, emphasizing:
- A need for mixed-use development
- Improved and ongoing neighborhood safety
- Access to transit, education, and public services
- A need for local business, restaurants, and a grocery store
In December of 2015, the County Recreation Authority announced the winning development team would be led by Georgia State University. The GSU team will transform the baseball field into a football stadium, adding student housing, apartments, and retail. The sale is currently in negotiation, and on February 18, 2016, the TFCBC presented the Community Benefits Platform with the recommendation that it be included by the County as part of the sale.