Mt. View hopes to rise as phoenix of neighborhoods

By Justin Boron

Two dilapidated houses and a resilient family are all that remains of the Mt. View neighborhood that withered away gradually through airport property acquisitions in the early 1990s.

The winding road that curves behind Old Dixie Highway in North Clayton is littered with ghastly remnants of a once vibrant bedroom community. Old furniture and trash line the closed down road, which leads up to the three remaining houses in the neighborhood.

Two are all but condemned ? roofs caved in and windows boarded up.

Adjacent to the collapsing houses is the Thomas home with its well-manicured lawn and warm welcome sign hanging from its porch.

The Thomas family has been a holdover for over a decade, resisting several attempts by the county government and airport to buy their property. The home's matriarch, Martha Thomas, said they are still waiting for the right price.

They remember when the area was filled with families who lived in the area and made the short jump to Atlanta for work. Now their only neighbors are the large oaks and deep kudzu surrounding their house.

A future may lie beneath the kudzu however, if county officials can succeed in transforming the area into a major transit district through a slew of transportation projects scheduled to be completed with the new international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2007.

At the center of the rejuvenation being called the Mt. View Revitalization Project, is Conley Road. Its realignment and widening could eventually alter the traffic patterns in the North Clayton area, said Jack Serbert, a CH2MHill consultant for the Mt. View project.

Reconnecting Conley Road with Charles W. Grant Parkway (formerly Aviation Boulevard) will help create a major thoroughfare through the top part of the county, which will eventually span from I-75 to I-675.

The future northern parkway, Thomas said, is badly needed.

"We really need another east-west corridor in North Clayton," she said. "Really, the only way to travel east-west now is Ga. Highway 138."

The Blanchard family, whose bakery has been on Old Dixie Highway for 33 years, said they would welcome any type of revitalization to return increase business.

"The majority of our customers are people who grew up in this area," said Danny Blanchard, who manages the bakery.

"We'd like anything to bring more business," he said.

The transportation projects are planned to lead into the development of transit hub around the Mt. View area, which will work to funnel in people to the farmer's market, Serbert said.

A Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) conducted by Forest Park recommended the expansion of the State Farmers Market to create more opportunities for mixed use development, which would be a dramatic stride away from the industrial appearance that currently pervades the area.

Developers also hope to construct a people mover from the International Terminal to the Farmers' Market.

But with so much in the planning stages, some have leaned on skepticism as a remedy for a past of unfulfilled anticipation.

"When they have the money in hand, then we'll be excited," Thomas said.