Published on April 20th, 2016 |4
Buckhead CID funds park over GA400 design/visioning work part 1
But not all members of the BCID board supported the action to spend up to $250,000 on the first of three phases that could end up costing $875,000 or more to continue to study the feasibility of the proposed park. In fact, the vote was six members for it, two against and one abstention.
The commercial developers on the BCID board, which taxes businesses within its boundaries in Buckhead an additional 3 mils to deal primarily with transportation infrastructure improvements within the district, have been discussing the proposed park for more than a year as a way to improve connectivity between areas of the central commercial district.
The Rogers Partners team, which includes design partners Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW), will begin work on a detailed schematic plan, funding strategy, engineering and management structure for a world-class park.
Rogers Partners will work with BCID to interview key stakeholders, analyze site conditions, develop preliminary project costs and produce site-specific concept graphics for use in pursuit of project funding.
The Rogers Partners team won the contract from among three finalists, who were interviewed by members of the BCID board.
While some (primarily developer members) argue a park in the area would be an asset for the entire community, board member Robin Suggs, who represents Simon Properties (Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza), disagrees. Suggs contends it is a project that could cost a hundred million dollars or more that would be better spent on improving Buckhead traffic.
Suggs voted no to the expenditure of the $250,000 for the first phase of the Rogers Partners study work, along with City Councilman Howard Shook, who also sits on the BCID board.
“This is supposed to be for the benefit of the public,” Shook told other board members. “But we haven’t heard from, or apparently been interested in hearing from, the public. I’m obligated to listen to the public. Until I do that, I’m not going to be on the bandwagon.”
Referring to the public sentiment, Shook told the board members, “You guys may be in for some big surprises.”
Of the six supporters of continuing to study the feasibility of the proposed park on the BCID, two represent development companies that own properties directly adjacent to the proposed park and a third represents Cousins Properties, which developed Terminus 100 and 200 buildings a stone’s throw down the street. Cousins is represented on the BCID board by Thad Ellis.
BCID board chairman David Allman is the principal of Regent Partners, which has developed multi-use office towers and condo units at Tower Place and has announced plans for a large mixed-use project that features a 550,000-square-foot office tower next to the Buckhead MARTA station and pedestrian bridge. The project would also include 300 apartments and 50 condos, and about 9,500 square feet of retail space, all directly abutting the
The site, just off Peachtree Road behind One Capital City Plaza, has been considered for years for the second phase of Capital City Plaza. One Capital City Plaza tower, which is owned by Parkway Properties, last year landed the headquarters of PulteGroup.
One Capital City Plaza abuts what would be the Peachtree Road entrance to the proposed park. And Parkway also owns the office components of 3344 and 3348 Peachtree Road next to One Capital City Plaza at 3350 Peachtree. John Barton of Parkway Partners is one of the BCID board members who favors the park plans.
3344 Peachtree/Sovereign is a 50-story mixed use tower, completed by Regent Partners in 2008, that is the tallest building in Buckhead and represents the cornerstone of Atlanta’s most dense
concentration of popular hotels, shopping, and restaurants.
Ellis, along with Edens representative on the board Herbert Ames, were two of the review committee members who met with the three finalist firms of those that bid to work with the BCID on the park plans. It was unclear if Barton also was involved in the review process.
Ames said he was impressed by the engineers and other professionals that put together proposals for the study. “Bringing together the prospect for what this park could be was a very exciting experience.”
Ellis said that one thing that came from the review process is that if all the space between Peachtree Road and Lenox Road is capped, “it becomes a tunnel that then brings other concerns and problems.”
The third named member of the review committee was BCID vice chair John Lundeen of Coro Realty, who has voiced reservations about the proposed park project but abstained from voting either yay or nay. Coro owns large commercial tracts on both sides of Peachtree Road west of Piedmont Road.
Suggs reportedly also dropped in on the review process at some point.
Quiet through most of the discussion about funding the new design and visioning project were board members Scott Selig of Selig Enterprises and Robin Loudermilk, president and CEO of The
Selig Enterprises owns a few retail shopping centers along Peachtree Road both east and west of Piedmont Road and Loudermilk has properties, both developed and in planning, located in the Buckhead Village area.
BCID solicited proposals in January to further evaluate planning, design, engineering, costs and funding models of the concept of a Park over GA400 and the Buckhead MARTA station. The concept is envisioned to create up to nine acres of open space out of thin air in the heart of Buckhead’s commercial core.
“We were impressed with all of the RFP responses, as well as the presentations from each of the three finalists, but Rogers Partners’ submission stood out,” said BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett. “Selecting a firm to work on the next phase of the design of the Park over GA400 is a major step in having the plan come to fruition,” he added.
“This idea began several years ago during the same planning exercise that gave rise to the PATH400 Greenway, currently under construction,” explained Durrett. “It took shape with the exceptional concept plan developed by Jacobs and Greenrock Partners. A signature Park over GA400 will significantly enhance and expand on-going efforts in Buckhead to add open space and public gathering opportunities.”
It also would likely greatly enhance the property values of office/retail/residential buildings surrounding it.