No. 567 . 29 August 2012 
ArchitectureWeek

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Barnes Square, planned by Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company with Brown Craig and Turner, is a "community-integrated continuing care retirement community (CCRC)" at the heart of the Mableton, Georgia master plan. Image: © Duany Plater-Zyberk

Masters Plan for Mableton

by M. Ball Scott

"The only viable way to accept the gift and meet the challenge of longevity is to match the dramatic transformation of the 20th century that made it possible to grow old, with an equally dramatic and fundamentally new way of being old." — Kathryn Lawler, welcoming the Lifelong Communities Charrette Team, February 2009

Mableton, Georgia is a small suburban community just outside of the City of Atlanta that is seeking to reposition itself in the region as an attractive, livable community for people of all ages. It's an example of a community readying itself to redevelop, with a strategic view into the 21st century.

Since 2009, Mableton has been an intensive focus of the Lifelong Communities Initiative led by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the regional planning and intergovernmental coordination agency for the 10-county metropolitan area. The Lifelong Communities Initiative is intended to develop policy and programs that will better integrate aging issues into regional planning processes.

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The Mableton, Georgia master plan reinterprets the elementary school to become a cornerstone of a civic campus in the center of town. Image: © Duany Plater-Zyberk

Mableton was one of five communities planned as part of a nine-day Lifelong Communities Charrette, hosted by ARC in partnership with Duany Plater Zyberk & Company. It is one of Cobb County's oldest identified areas, although it has remained unincorporated for all but two years of its history. As a result of its unincorporated standing, the name "Mableton" can refer to a wide geographic area and residents from all over South Cobb may refer to their community as Mableton.

With a post office, regional library, and arts center all grouped at its major intersection, the historic area of Mableton has today begun to function as a town center for the entire southern section of Cobb County.

The community is in flux as the County gears up to implement some of the first phases of its recently completed redevelopment master plan and new form-based zoning code for the area. With more than 30% of its population above the age of 65, the community is consider to be a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC).

Mableton is typical of towns that have been bypassed when modern interstates drew away automobile traffic and with it the stream of passing retail customers. The town has actually been twice stranded in its century and a half history. Initially developed as a watering and fueling stop for steam driven locomotives, it had to reinvent itself when the railroad moved to long haul diesel locomotives that no longer needed a watering hole in that location.   >>>

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This article is excerpted from Livable Communities for Aging Populations by M. Ball Scott, copyright © 2012, with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons.

 
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