East Atlanta boasts a diverse mix of dingy bars, a decent smattering of affordable shops and restaurants, and the city's highest concentration of hipsters. To the west, Ormewood Park is a verdant, diverse, and quiet neighborhood with a storied history — and a good place to settle down and raise a family.
Eight years ago, Ted Bradford, 28, moved to Atlanta from Washington, D.C. After getting a master's degree in Urban Policy, the career development director now serves as the vice president of the East Atlanta Community Association. Bradford has lived within walking distance of EAV's bars and restaurants since becoming an Atlantan. He loves the neighborhood's character, but thinks it must improve its transit if it wants to thrive in years to come.
Everyone's here to hang out, have a good time, and enjoy the cheap cost of living. The nightlife is a little more exciting. It's less sterile than our wealthier sister neighborhoods. It's authentic. We're a young, fun place to live.
In years past, people would get married, have a kid, and then move out of East Atlanta. Now, that's not really the case. ... People tend to come because they're in their early-to-mid 20s, early 30s, have a professional job.
People move to East Atlanta because they want an urban area close to downtown. It's [also] walkable. ... Arts and culture committees put on plays in the park. We have the EAV recycling program. We do have a lot of people that come here and party, and it does get dirty on the weekend. So we all came together to get it cleaned up.
We get a lot of small property crime — a lot of bashed car windows and vehicle larceny. That's kind of our big problem. We have some little public safety issues like that, but no different from anywhere else in the city.
East Atlanta needs better transit options. We have MARTA buses that can take you [places], but you can't get on a trolley or a bus and go to Little Five Points. ... We're going to need something that either connects us to the Beltline moving forward, or some sort of Moreland Avenue transit [alternative] that will connect us to Little Five and the Highlands.
We have a problem with a lack of available parking in the village. [But] at the same time, we have free parking and no one else does. [Some] complain that people park in front of their houses. If we're going to continue to develop, we're going to need a parking solution.
There's a lot of excitement about building higher-density stuff in the EAV area. We'll have about 200 new people living right in the heart of East Atlanta in the next year with a new apartment complex. How can we get more people to enjoy our neighborhood? To get them to move and live here, we would need more housing for them, or we need to get them to be able to come here easily.
I'm sure the character of the neighborhood will change a little bit. I don't think we're going to lose our soul, or grit, as we do that.