Buckhead group studies park over Ga. 400

A stretch of Ga. 400 near Lenox Square mall would be capped with a nine-acre park, under an ambitious plan conceived by a business organization in the area.

The park over the busy freeway and the Buckhead MARTA station is in the conceptual stages, but the Buckhead Community Improvement District plans to issue requests for proposals next month for a study.

“We’re looking for teams that can take this from a concept to the point where we have a much better understanding of how it can be constructed, what it would cost to construct it and what the community wants and needs in an open space.” Buckhead CID Executive Director Jim Durrett said Wednesday.

Community improvement districts, which are found around metro Atlanta, include businesses that agree to tax themselves to fund improvements to an area.

In April, the Buckhead CID hired Jacobs Engineering Group to do a conceptual design. It includes lawns, a gateway to the MARTA station, a plaza and performance areas. Renderings also show a link to the PATH 400 trail under construction along the freeway.

The park would stretch from Atlanta Financial Center on Peachtree Road to the Lenox Road-Ga. 400 interchange. It would essentially cover Ga. 400 and the transit station, creating an at-grade and walkable connection to apartment towers and office buildings now cut off by the highway.

MARTA recently finished a pedestrian bridges over Ga. 400 to its Buckhead Station platform to enhance accessibility. The park design concept would be far more extensive and likely far eclipse the price of the MARTA project, which totaled $32 million.

The Buckhead park would likely cost more than $150 million, Durrett said.

Durrett said he expects the project, if the board opts to go forward, will likely require private and public money in addition to CID funds. The RFP also will examine maintenance and operations costs and try to identify how the park might generate revenue, such as from performance space or dedicating space for businesses such as restaurants.

Durrett compared the project to Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, a 5.2-acre “deck park” over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

Other cities have taken similar steps to cap unsightly highways and expand green space or fill out street grids. In Atlanta, the Fifth Street bridge park over the Downtown Connector linking Georgia Tech and Midtown is similar in concept, though smaller.

Durrett said current and former CID board members, including noted developer Charlie Ackerman, have discussed such a project for several years. The central part of Buckhead’s business district, Durrett said, lacks greenspace and a central gathering spot.