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Published on May 5th, 2015 |

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CID expands study of 9-acre park over GA400, MARTA station

The board of the Buckhead Community Improvement District voted April 28 to move forward with the second phase of a feasibility study for a 9-acre park in the core business district that would bridge GA 400 and MARTA rail line between Peachtree and Lenox Loop roads.

This photo, taken from the 18th floor of 3343 Peachtree Road, shows the GA 400 roadway and Buckhead MARTA rail station looking north from Peachtree Road to the Lenox Loop Road, The proposed CID 9-acre park would span that gulch and be over the top of GA 400 and tghe MARTA rail line.

This photo, taken from the 18th floor of 3343 Peachtree Road, shows the GA 400 roadway and Buckhead MARTA rail station looking north from Peachtree Road to the Lenox Loop Road, The proposed CID 9-acre park would span that gulch and be over the top of GA 400 and tghe MARTA rail line.

The CID board voted to allocate $39,500 for a study, which will evaluate the economic impact, park operation models, design concepts and finance options for the project, which ultimately could cost $100 million to $200 million to develop and likely won’t happen anytime real soon.

“It’s a big, audacious project,” Chairman David Allman said. “It also could be a dramatic game changer. It is daunting because of its size but it can turn out extraordinarily well.”

Vice Chairman John Lundeen, who abstained, and Dist. 7 Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook, who sits as a member of the CID board, both expressed surprise that parking was not being considered in the approved study. They strongly suggested the study needs to include detailed traffic and parking considerations near the space.

However, both CID Executive Director Jim Durrett and Chairman Allman suggested the park would not create a parking problem because those traveling to it would most likely be doing so on weekends and there would be plenty of parking spaces available at neighboring office developments.

CID Board Chzairman David Allman, at left, and Executive Director Jim Durrett during the April 28 meeting.

CID Board Chzairman David Allman, at left, and Executive Director Jim Durrett during the April 28 meeting.

Durrett also said MARTA could reduce the vehicle traffic of those going to the park, because the park would be directly linked to the Buckhead MARTA rail station with the new bridge that was opened last year connecting the east and west sides of GA400 to the MARTA station.

The first phase of the feasibility study, which was completed last month at a cost of $10,000, showed there were no issues with property ownership, air rights, utilities or constructability, Durrett told the board.

Along with the studies it has commission, the board plans to review a similar project called  in Dallas as a model—a model cities across the country have considered, CID board member Thad Ellis said. Ellis is with Cousins Properties, which has a development project adjacent to the Dallas park which was similarly built over a freeway.

The urban park is a public-private effort  which may have doubled or tripled the neighborhood value, Ellis said.

CID board member and Cousins Properties executive Chad Ellis , at right, studies documents during the April 28 meeting.

CID board member and Cousins Properties executive Thad Ellis , at right, studies documents during the April 28 meeting.

“Twelve years ago it was a political football in Dallas, just like it would be here with lots of naysayers, which I think is natural,” Ellis said. “It took 10 years to get approved and another couple years to construct it.”

Shook said the group should early on sort out additional terms such as who would own the park, determine a construction budget and work very closely with the city of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation.

Durrett told the board he is going to invite Mark Banta, president of the Piedmont Park Conservancy, to attend the CID’s May meeting, as well as representatives of the firm conducting the feasibility study for the park project.

Banta was the person who personally oversaw the park project in Dallas and should be able to provide some insight into opportunities, potential problems and aspects of the construction of such a public/private venture.

This is the front area of Charlie Loudermilk Park where a piece of public sculpture art was planned to be placed in the new park design.

This is the front area of Charlie Loudermilk Park where a piece of public sculpture art was planned to be placed in the new park design.

Meanwhile, Durrett also reported on finishing touches still to be put on the new Charlie Loudermilk Park at the triangle in Buckhead Village, which was officially re-opened on March 31 with a dedication ceremony.

Durrett announced that the CID and Charlie Loudermilk are working with John Portman to a piece of Portman’s sculpture in the location within the park which had always been planned for a piece of public art—at the front of the park where Roswell and Peachtree roads intersect.

Durrett said there is a possibility of somehow getting the public involved in selecting the art, if there is more than one piece to choose from.

Councilman Shook pointed out that placing that piece of sculpture art in the park has to go through a three-point legislative process at City Council.

In addition, Durrett said the final landscaping is supposed to be put in the park in May and said the bricks with the names of donors to the park project have been ordered and will be installed when they arrive.

Asked about the security of the tables, chairs and umbrellas in the park, Durrett said the crew counts all of them every morning and at the end of every day. The umbrellas are bolted down, but the chairs and tables are not.

“We hope the public will take care of it,” Durrett added. “The reception to the new park design has been overwhelmingly positive. People are out there using it every day,” he added, which was not the case with the prior park design.

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