From Concrete Jungle to Sustainable Community

2 min read

Can you imagine a world without traffic? For most of us, especially we Atlantans, it is difficult to see past our reality of urban sprawl to a place where we don’t have to structure our day around cars.

 Two miles from downtown Atlanta stands a proud "new urbanism" community. Not so new, Glenwood Park came to life in 2003.

Two miles from downtown Atlanta stands a proud "new urbanism" community. Not so new, Glenwood Park came to life in 2003.

Fifteen years ago, a successful tech entrepreneur was fed up. He wanted to change the way development was done. Suburban sprawl was the problem, but what was the solution? After selling his company, Mindspring, Charles Brewer purchased 28 acres of brownfield land—formerly a concrete recycling plant—off I-20 and just two miles east of downtown. He set out to create a place that is designed for people, not cars. A place that is walkable, lovable, and sustainable. An example of what could be. Where others saw a “crappy piece of land”, Brewer saw opportunity for a new type of community—Glenwood Park.

 Glenwood Park is filled with sidewalks, unexpected pathways and green space, all designed to encourage and support walkability.

Glenwood Park is filled with sidewalks, unexpected pathways and green space, all designed to encourage and support walkability.

 An aerial photo of Glenwood Park circa 2002. Prior to becoming a sustainability leading community, the 28 acre site was home to a concrete company.

An aerial photo of Glenwood Park circa 2002. Prior to becoming a sustainability leading community, the 28 acre site was home to a concrete company.

Charles wanted Glenwood Park to restore people's confidence that we can once again create lovable, walkable places: 


“So many of us visit the wonderful old neighborhoods of our country or the wonderful old towns and cities of Europe, and come back home raving about how much we love them. But too many of us have allowed ourselves to believe that it is impossible to create that kind of place anymore. Well, it's not. And I hope that Glenwood Park will help raise our collective confidence level and aspirations about the kind of places that we can build today and in the future."

 Residences were designed to have front porches and decks as well as be situated close to sidewalks and streets. This density is by design - to encourage neighborly conversations and visits.

Residences were designed to have front porches and decks as well as be situated close to sidewalks and streets. This density is by design - to encourage neighborly conversations and visits.

Today, Glenwood Park has become a vibrant, mixed-use, sustainable community. From the single-family residences and town homes to office space to retail, the diversity of use keeps the community alive with energy both day and night. It paved the way for narrower streets, designed with large sidewalks for pedestrians, when it received approval from the city for a special ordinance. Before it was redeveloped, the area had flooding issues, but now the retention pond serves as a water feature and collects almost 2 million gallons of rainwater annually, supplying the parks and street trees. The design and sustainable aspects of the community have earned prestigious awards—including the Congress for New Urbanism Charter Award and EarthCraft House Development of the Year.

 A variety of architectural styles make for interesting walks and viewing.

A variety of architectural styles make for interesting walks and viewing.

 The public realms are inviting. The bocce court is recreational and serves as a meeting place.

The public realms are inviting. The bocce court is recreational and serves as a meeting place.

 Rich landscaping wraps Brewer Park, the community's central green space ideal for congregating.

Rich landscaping wraps Brewer Park, the community's central green space ideal for congregating.

Glenwood Park’s sources of greatness include:

- A wide range of architectural styles and product types that enable a sense of authenticity  to emerge, avoiding a “cookie cutter” feel. 

- Merging commercial and residential spaces, the public realm provides vibrant experiences and interesting interactions among residents, guests, and patrons. 

- Public gathering spaces and front stoops and porches on the majority of homes foster a sense of community and encourage socialization.

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OK, full disclosure. We, at Vista, love Glenwood Park because we call it home. Our offices sit directly across from Drip, the neighborhood coffee shop. We enjoy and appreciate all of the design thinking, thoughtful planning, and courageous vision Glenwood Park embodies. 

What’s not to love about Glenwood Park? From walking to the BeltLine, experiencing Gunshow, or sitting outside at Vickerys—Glenwood Park is a community designed for people, with a beautiful mix of public and private realms. It’s an “intown gem” with an inspiring success story, setting new standards of how people can live, work, and play.

Thanks Charles.

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