Since 1914, The Met had been home to visionary entrepreneurs who made Atlanta quintessential to the region. In 2018, Vista Growth collaborated with Carter to unearth its heritage, tell its story, unlock its potential value.
Atlanta is growing, rapidly. It’s population is estimated to triple by 2050. With all of this growth, comes the demand for real estate, and often times, the opportunity to apply placemaking and placebranding principles to re-envision existing structures.
In Atlanta’s West End neighborhood, a 1.125 million square feet warehouse was acquired by development firm, Carter. This warehouse was colossal and full of rich history. The structure was built back in 1914 by the co-founder of The Coca-Cola Company, Asa Candler. Fast forward 104 years, The Metropolitan (The Met), as we’ve renamed it, was primed for the next chapter of its cultural relevance and economic impact.
Carter knew that before significant changes were made, the vision and goals for the development needed to be identified, shaped and planned. A clear vision, paired with strategic placemaking and place-branding, would lead to accelerated investor and community buy-in around the new direction for The Met. Aligning with our interest and super powers in placemaking and place-branding, Carter engaged Vista Growth and our “One Place” process for a 3-day charrette to maximize the opportunity at The Met.
We began by meeting with Carter’s key stakeholders to fully understand their aspirations, expectations, and assumptions. Based on that information, we designed the charrette to meet their goal: find the best and highest use of the property. Planners, architects, and designers were identified as ideal participants in the multi-day charrette. As the participants were located nationally and internationally, we held a remote prep meeting to introduce them to The Met. The information run-down included the details about the location and surrounding neighborhood, history of the structure, and possible community activations. Armed with a background on the place, the creatives were prepped for the multi-day charrette at the Met in Atlanta.
Day One of the charrette began with a walking tour of the Met, followed by a schedule of TED-like 20-min presentations by local stakeholders and organizations that could provide further insight into Atlanta, potentially be tenants, or activate the future community at the Met. From ChooseATL, to MARTA, to the BeltLine, to urban agriculture, the presentations covered a variety of topics and were designed to inspire and spark creativity in the architects and planners.
On Days Two and Three the creative talent put pencil to paper. We challenged them to scribe both end state renderings and phased approaches to get to that end state, either at street level or big picture. The key elements they focused on in their sketches for long-term success at the Met were prosperity (jobs), mobility (transportation and walkability), livability (housing and lifestyle), and community. At the end of the first day, presentations and peer critiques were conducted, creating an important feedback loop. The top of Day Three began with implementing that feedback and concluded with final presentations. The Carter team was left with a variety of inspired visions for the Met.
One key difference and advantage of our "One Place Charrette" is that it goes far beyond the typical placemaking and includes significant place-branding.
In many ways, we treat place like a product, a brand. We capture the initial vision, set a brand position, define potential narratives, document the history, and start to craft the identity, voice, and story of the place brand. In film and in photos. Our belief is that when people buy into a community, they buy into the narrative. These are branding fundamentals. No story, no buyers.
Through photography and video, we documented all three days of the charrette, capturing elements of the place, the process, and community. These assets were used in a video trailer and case-bound book for a snap-shot of the place in the present and a peek into the opportunities for the future.
Also included in our place-branding efforts was a document with inspired ideas and vision for community activations, some of which resulted from ideas by the architects, planners, and designers at the charrette.
These materials armed the community with inspired communications about the vision that they could share with stakeholders, investors and influencers, and accelerate buy-in and quorum around the new direction for the Met.
Our process of pairing place-branding with placemaking leads to a robust vision and playbook for developers to maximize their opportunities. For the full story, drop us a line.