Published on August 24th, 2016 |1
Buckhead CID plans public meeting Sept. 7 on proposed park over GA 400
The goal of the Sept. 7 meeting, according to the BCID announcement, “is to explain the project in detail and answer questions regarding this opportunity to bring a new attraction to Buckhead.” Doors will open at 5 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m. and end at 7 p.m.
The idea for the park over GA400 was announced in 2015, and has been moving forward with Rogers Partners’ design and vision plan and discussions within the board of directors of the BCID. It is anticipated that the plan will also be thoroughly discussed during the BCID’s board meeting the morning of Sept. 7.
Although the BCID board has taken a break in August from its normal monthly meetings, BuckheadView has learned from its sources that BCID board members have been meeting “unofficially” in groups that were one member shy of representing a “quorum.”
A quorum at the meetings would have required by law that the meetings be open to the public and the media.
The last time the park plans were discussed in an “open public meeting” of the BCID board was its June and July meetings. It was clear at that time that there was not a consensus among the board members about whether or not this program should move forward and whether or not it fit within the BCID’s mission statement of priorities.
The proposed park would stretch between the Buckhead MARTA rail station on Peachtree Road and the Lenox Loop road and would cover the MARTA rail tracks and station as well as the GA 400 roadway below, directly in the center of the major commercial district of Buckhead.
At least three of the BCID board were mostly not supportive of the park project. Those members were vice chairman John Lundeen of Coro Realty Advisors, Robin Suggs, representing the Simon Properties interests on the board, and Dist. 7 City Councilman Howard Shook. Sept. 7 may show whether or not those three have changed their positions on the park plans after the “unofficial” meetings.
Suggs clearly stated that Simon Properties was not in favor of the CID spending the tax revenues it acquires from an extra 3 mils tax on the commercial properties within the district on this park project. Shook said he was not in favor of the project without the public mandating through a referendum its support for the project. And, he was upset that public input was not sought early on in the process.
For the most part, the BCID board members who voiced approval of moving forward with the park plans at the June meeting all represented commercial real estate properties (mainly office towers) that could be directly impacted by such a major park abutting their properties.
Those BCID board members chairman David Allman, founding partner of Regent Partners; Thad Ellis, who represents Cousins Properties on the board, and John Barton, who is an executive with Parkway Properties and who reportedly was appointed to the CID board by Mayor Kasim Reed. A fourth commercial developer, Herbert Ames of Edens, also has voiced support for the project.
Cousins Properties is in the process of purchasing Parkway Properties and will end up owning high-rise office building directly adjacent to the proposed park. Regent Partners has introduced plans to build a massive mixed-use office/retail/residential project on a current parking lot adjacent to the proposed park.
Two of the BCID board members who have neither voiced strong support or lack of support for the park project are Selig Enterprises Vice President Scott Selig and Robin Loudermilk, CEO of The Loudermilk Cos.
In his announcement of the Sept. 7 public information meeting, BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett, who has been driving this project forward for the past year, explained that the Rogers Partners team interviewed key stakeholders, analyzed site conditions, developed preliminary project costs and produced site-specific concept graphics for use in pursuit of project funding.
“The team has more phases of work to accomplish, but enough work has been completed to get a sense of what would be built, the order of magnitude of the costs to build and operate the park, and the sources of funding that would be required to pursue it,” Durrett said in his announcement.
The concept is envisioned to create a significant community gathering space in the heart of Buckhead’s commercial core. However, the thought among some on the board is that a new taxing and governmental structure likely will have to be developed to develop and administer it and likely would have to include surrounding Buckhead residential neighborhoods in addition to the commercial property owners.
“Can you picture a day when everyone in the world might recognize Buckhead for a world class attraction in the form of greenspace instead of traffic?” Durrett asked in his announcement. “Much like New York’s Central Park or San Francisco’s Union Square, the Buckhead Community Improvement District believes Buckhead could be home to a great urban place as well.”
It will be interesting to see on Sept. 7 how many Buckhead small business owners and residents show up at the Buckhead Theatre to provide their input into the park project and whether or not they will support it.
East Paces Ferry ‘Complete Street’ meeting
On August 30, from 6 – 8 p.m., the public is invited to join the City of Atlanta at Resurgens Plaza, 945 East Paces Ferry Road NE in Buckhead, to discuss the East Paces Ferry Complete Street Improvements Project. The City will provide more project details, and is seeking the public’s feedback. The Buckhead CID encourages the community to attend. For more information, please contact the City of Atlanta at 404.330.6165 or visit renewatlantabond.com.