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We recently spoke with Cornell Holmes, the General Property Manager of Atlantic Station. He’s a seasoned mixed-use real estate professional who has worked in San Francisco, Nashville, San Antonio, and Jackson, Mississippi. Most recently, Cornell relocated from Dallas to Atlanta to oversee property management and leasing at Atlantic Station.
When looking for a home in Atlanta, transit was an important factor in Cornell’s decision and led him to choose a residence accessible to a MARTA station. Now, he frequently takes MARTA from the North Springs station to work at Atlantic Station.
What have you enjoyed most about living in Atlanta?
I’ve enjoyed the topography and the trees–the rolling hills and “city in a forest” have been a refreshing change in comparison to Dallas.
Where do you commute from?
I drive to the North Springs MARTA station, where they offer free parking, and I take the train to Arts Center station. I often walk from there to get to my office, or I take the Atlantic Station Free Shuttle if it’s raining or hot outside. I enjoy the opportunity to get a little exercise on both ends of my commute.
Were you a transit rider previously before moving to Atlanta, or is this a new endeavor for you?
When I worked in San Francisco, I frequently used the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART). I’ve used transit in many cities that I’ve visited as well.
What made you want to use transit to get to Atlantic Station?
I ride MARTA for three reasons:
As a new employee at Atlantic Station, what made getting to work easier for you?
When I first started, I was excited to learn that Atlantic Station has a transportation program called ASAP+. They work with employers and property managers during employee onboarding to make sure employees know how to access Atlantic Station without driving alone. I learned about their programs during my company’s onboarding orientation. The ASAP+ program manager encouraged me and other new employees to sign up for the Georgia Commute Options programs, such as Guaranteed Ride Home, carpool matching, and Gimme Five.
What do you like most about using transit to get to Atlantic Station?
It’s a less stressful way to get to work. If I drive, my 22-minute trip can easily take over an hour due to traffic. When I take the train, I can skip the stress. MARTA is also a great way to get to the airport from Atlantic Station when I need to travel.
How do you spend your time while on transit?
It depends on the day. I often do work on the train, but sometimes I listen to a podcast or watch something on Netflix.
What advice would you give someone who is considering getting to work by riding transit?
Register with Georgia Commute Options, log your trips, redeem your rewards, and enjoy the ride!
What’s your vision for Atlantic Station going forward?
2020 is going to be a big year at Atlantic Station. We’re opening a renovated and expanded Atlantic Green, creating new art installations, opening new retail experiences, and rolling out a new holiday program. This is all in addition to our existing programs like free yoga, outdoor movies, and special events. We’re building on a strong foundation, and we’re working to make Atlantic Station the best mixed-use development in the southeast.
When it comes to transportation, we’re thinking long-term about how to leverage our proximity to the future Beltline. We’re working with ASAP+, Midtown Alliance, and the Upper Westside Community Improvement District to identify how we can better connect Atlantic Station to surrounding neighborhoods, especially as development booms in and around our District. I envision better spaces for biking, walking, and e-scooting. Atlantic Station was a pioneer property when it was built, and I’m looking forward to continuing our legacy of intelligent real estate services.
One of Atlantic Station’s largest employers, Square has earned recognition as a Bicycle Friendly Business from the League of American Bicyclists. With this designation, Square joins the movement of nearly 1,400 local businesses, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies across the U.S. who are proving a commitment to creating accessible workplaces for people who arrive by bike.
Square—a force that has transformed payment transactions with the introduction of its compact signature card reader—calls Atlantic Station home for its Southeast outpost, with its office located in the LEED-Gold certified BB&T office tower.
“At Square, we’ve built a culture around bike commuting,” says Micah Wedemeyer, who serves as a bike mentor for Square’s Atlanta office. “The culture is fueled by our crew of passionate bike commuters who go the extra mile to help fellow employees try out biking to work coupled with the bike-friendly amenities our office offers—such as private showers, changing rooms, and secure bicycle storage. Our bike commuters support fellow employees along every step of the journey–from helping them identify an accessible route and bike for their new commute to holding lunchtime bike rides to our favorite local pizza spot.”
ASAP+, the Transportation Management Association for Atlantic Station, supported Square in its pursuit of the Bicycle Friendly Business designation, working with the team to build its bicycle offerings to employees and apply for the certification. Square offers indoor bike storage, shower facilities for employees, and participates in Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s bike classes as well as regional campaigns like Biketober. Square also works with ASAP+ to extend to its employees programs from Georgia Commute Options, including Guaranteed Ride Home, $150 for switching their commute from driving alone to biking, and monthly prizes for bike commuting.
“When places make it easier for people to choose to bike, they are building safer, stronger, and better-connected communities,” says Bill Nesper, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists. “When more people are biking to work or shop, life is better for everyone.”
If you’re a business at Atlantic Station interested in becoming a Bicycle Friendly Business, get in touch with ASAP+ by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about the League’s Bicycle Friendly Business program: www.bikeleague.org/business
Even if you live ITP (inside the perimeter), commuting just a few miles to work can be stressful and time-consuming. Chris, a Square Software Engineer at Atlantic Station, recently started using a bike for his 2-mile commute from his home in Midtown to work. He decided to give it a try after a coworker suggested he sign up for Biketober–a fun, free competition that takes place each October to encourage Atlantans to break out their bikes and experience the benefits from enjoying the city by two wheels.
We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Chris to hear about how relying on a bicycle to get to work has impacted his life for the better.
What led you to start riding your bike to work?
There were a lot of people in the office who biked, and they were riding longer distances than my commute. When Biketober rolled around, one of my coworkers encouraged me to start riding and gave me a bike. Now, my commute is about 10-15 minutes total by bike.
What is your favorite part about commuting by bike?
It’s a faster commute, I save some money, and it’s an unavoidable workout. Before, I wouldn’t make time for working out or would work out on and off. Now, I get my exercise in each day I go to work.
How did you decide to rely on a bike for your commute?
I was interested in getting a bike to avoid driving a car and received one for free, so that helped me make my decision.
Do you have plans to continue riding your bike?
Definitely, I currently use it for commuting, but I do plan on using it to travel to other places. I’ve only had to skip riding it one day because of the weather, so it has been very useful.
What tips do you have for someone trying to find a bike that best suits their commute?
A coworker told me this quote: “Your first bike should cost less than your helmet, your second bike should cost more than your helmet, and your third bike should cost more than your car.”
Also, starting to ride is not as bad you think. In general, cars are very respectful. There’s some unfounded anxiety about biking prior to starting. After you begin biking that goes away. I was worried about not being in good enough shape, but it was easy.
You just have to rip the Band-Aid off and start trying!
How did you determine the best bike route to take to get to your office?
I first asked coworkers who biked into work. I also tried a couple of different routes I found via Google Maps. My first attempt was West Peachtree Street, which had a huge hill, and figured out fast that would not be a good route. Then, I found that 17th Street to Peachtree Street was pretty flat, so that’s been my route since.
Do you have any accessories for your bike that make commuting easier?
You are going to need a light for riding after dark, bike lock, helmet, and backpack. Some people use harnesses or panniers like the Ortlieb Back Roller Classic. You can hook it to your bike to carry things, so you don’t have to carry a backpack.
What tips do you have for people considering riding their bike to work?
Try to ride your bike in good weather–avoid really hot parts of the day in the summer. You can also rent bikes to try out before you commit to buying one. The Beltline has a lot of bike rental places.
I highly recommend practice riding on the Beltline because you don’t have the pressure of cars surrounding you. You can try out several bikes to find one that is most comfortable for you.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your commute?
I used to take Bird Scooters, but I enjoy biking much more because of the exercise. I wish I had started riding a bike sooner. I’m enjoying participating in Biketober and will continue riding, as I feel healthier and am saving time on my commute!
With more commuters opting to bike to work, it’s no wonder properties are designing spaces suited for this growing trend. T3 West Midtown, Atlantic Station’s latest property that redefines the standard for the modern creative office, is at the forefront of this movement. Not only is the building made with heavy timber, making it more environmentally friendly, it also promotes sustainable practices to its tenants, encouraging people to take transit and bike to work.
A cornerstone of this is T3’s new bike room called The Wheelhouse. It features a bike ramp for easy access, a spacious storage area, fixit station and pump, and locker and shower rooms.
Properties like T3 are setting the standard for office buildings that want to attract companies seeking spaces that promote healthy lifestyles and sustainable commuting for their workforce.
John is a Software Engineer at Square who was feeling stressed due to his tiring drive from his home in Ormewood Park to his job in Atlantic Station each day. Even though he lived a mere 15 minutes from his office, his car ride had turned into 45 minutes with all the traffic.
Ever since a friend suggested he try taking MARTA to work, John has been hooked and now enjoys a stress-free commute that allows him to read books and bypass traffic.
We recently spoke with John, and he shared all about his experience and how making the switch has improved his life.
When did you start working at Square, and where are you commuting from?
I started working at Square in August 2015, and I commute from Ormewood Park.
What led you to start taking MARTA to work?
I noticed recently that my commute was very stressful. With no traffic, it was 15 minutes, but normally it was taking 45 minutes. There were lots of intersections, most of which were blocked and jam-packed. I was always arriving home from work stressed out.
One day, I was talking with a friend, and he suggested taking MARTA. Switching to MARTA doesn’t save me a lot of time, but it does save me a lot of headaches. MARTA also provides more structure in my life. If I don’t get up to catch my train, I end up goofing around and running late.
How do you usually spend your time while riding MARTA?
Reading! I took a New Year’s resolution to read 12 books this year.
What is your favorite part about riding MARTA to work?
I’m gaining more me-time during the day and arriving to work stress-free. I also am getting exercise because I have to walk to get to the different stations. I get off at the Arts Center station and walk to the BB&T building.
What tips do you have for people considering changing their commute?
Use Google Maps for your initial planning. You can tell what time you need to get somewhere or what time you need to leave. Try to use the desktop version over the mobile app as you can plan your departure and arrival times.
The signs may be confusing if you are a new rider. One time I missed the train because I was paying attention to the wrong sign. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the stations and the destinations they serve to ensure you understand which train to board.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your commute?
It’s helped me feel less stressed, and I enjoy the little walks between the stations and my endpoints. I encourage other people to try it!
Atlantans across the city are breaking out their bikes for the Atlanta Bike Challenge, taking place throughout October. In celebration of the challenge, ASAP+ recently teamed up with Atlanta Bicycle Coalition to offer a City Cycling class to help Atlantic Station employees and residents gear up for riding on city streets.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced bike rider, the class offers tips and support to riders at all levels to boost your confidence cycling around the city. And if you are an experienced rider, the class offers the opportunity to explore parts of town you normally wouldn’t get to enjoy by bike while in good company. Check out the schedule of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s upcoming classes to reserve your spot for the next class.
Ready to ride with us in the next class? Here’s what to expect:
Ready to ride?
Join forces with the 4,000 people taking part in the Atlanta Bike Challenge this October. To get started, grab your friends, family, or coworkers and register as a team. Or, you can sign yourself up as an individual. Be sure to log any bike rides you take during October, so you can earn points and possibly win some prizes!
Want to be rewarded for riding your bike? Take part in the Atlanta Bike Challenge during October, and you can have a chance at some great prizes by riding your bike – whether it’s around your neighborhood, down the Beltline, or maybe even to the office.
Ready to accept the challenge? Follow these steps:
Log any bike trips you take during October for your shot at some great prizes, including an Edison Electric Bike up for grabs.
RSVP for Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s City Cycling Confidence Class at Atlantic Station on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 5:30 PM to gain confidence cycling around the city.