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A Legal Battle Could Ensue Over Underground Atlanta’s Streets

An Atlanta organization could file a lawsuit against the City of Atlanta over the privatization of some Underground Atlanta streets.
An Atlanta organization could file a lawsuit against the City of Atlanta over the privatization of some Underground Atlanta streets.
Credit BRENNA BEECH / WABE

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The City of Atlanta could face a legal battle over its recent decision to privatize some of Underground Atlanta’s streets and sidewalks.

Earlier this month, the city council voted to abandon portions of Pryor Street, Alabama Street and Plaza Way. That means whoever buys Underground could control those streets.

That decision is being challenged by Thread ATL, a nonprofit that focuses on city planning and design issues.

Thread ATL’s Darin Givens says the city council didn’t allow for public input, which he claims violates a state law.

“If the city had given us proper notification through, like, the neighborhood association – the neighborhood planning unit – it wouldn’t be this grievous thing that we’re really looking at in a legal way now,” he says.

Givens says Thread ATL would first file a demand letter on behalf of concerned citizens to let the city know the organization plans to take legal action. The next step would be a lawsuit.

The best possible outcome, Givens says, would be for the city to repeal the ordinance, which would make the streets public again. An ordinance or deed restriction guaranteeing a private owner couldn’t kick anyone off the roadways and sidewalks would be the other option.

The city’s been in talks with developer WRS about buying Underground Atlanta, but negotiations have dragged on for nearly two years now.

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