Roofscape the Eastside Trail

Arden Gardens Roof

I often refer to the BeltLine as Atlanta 2.0 because of how it is upgrading the city. The elevations of the reclaimed railroad have definitely upgraded city vistas at certain locations. The downside is that users of the Line will sometimes be looking down at wide expanses of the rooftops of big box retail buildings.

This certainly doesn’t show us the building’s best side. Little consideration has been given to these elevated deserts of gravel and black tar because they weren’t visible before the BeltLine opened for use.

Exhibit A is the stretch of the Eastside Trail from Ponce De Leon to Monroe. There, acres of ugliness are on display. Perhaps we have developed a tolerance to this after years of using Bing Maps or Google Earth, where we have rediscovered the “forgotten landscape” of the world’s rooftops through satellite imagery.

Much effort is being put into planting an arboretum and establishing meadows in the corridor. How about roof meadows on the adjoining buildings?

I propose that we make roofscaping these buildings a priority. The benefits go beyond aesthetics:

  • Studies show that rainwater runoff can be reduced by as much as 75% during a rain event in these urban locations.This is significant to an area that has inadequate stormwater infrastructure. Vegetative roofs naturally filter the water that does run off.
  • Green roofs can also help to lower urban air temperatures by mitigating the heat island effect.
  • Roofs can be used to increase agricultural space. Jamestown has discussed rooftop gardens on Ponce City Market where restaurant tenants can grow produce. What do you say, Whole Foods?
  • The building owners can enjoy increased insulation and reduced cooling loads by 50 – 90%

We have grants for facade improvement, why not for roofs?

Thought leadership is happening. is sponsoring a Green Roofs for Healthier Cities symposium this Monday, September 14th at the nearby Southface – Home Depot Training Center on Pine Street.

Hey! Home Depot occupies one of the buildings on the Eastside Trail. Maybe they could kickstart the roofscaping movement. Then we could go from this:

Home Depot Roofs

To This:


About Burke Sisco

Burke Sisco is a Realtor and Associate Broker of eXp Realty (License #245380) with over 20 years of experience in the Atlanta real estate market. He calls the surging infra-culture around the BeltLine both home and business territory and is the founder and managing editor of He has helped a number of satisfied clients buy and sell property in BeltLandia. Those interested in living the BeltLandia Lifestyle can reach Burke at 404.421.9968 or by email at


  1. Great idea Burke! Thanks for sharing. Hope companies like Home Depot will see the significance that goes beyond aesthetics.

  2. I’ve just come across this article. Burke, I think that every time I see those roofs! We have huge companies occupying these spaces (Amazon, Home Depot) and they’re really not doing anything to contribute to the rebirth of this part of the trail. It can’t possibly cost much. What can we do to make it happen?

    • Sounds like a great cause for Fourth Ward Alliance 🙂 It’s something that goes beyond aesthetics. Perhaps reach out to City of Atlanta Chief Resilience Officer. Harry, another commenter on the topic, had an idea he wanted to discuss. You can reach out to him at

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