Community News

Published on January 20th, 2017 |

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Buckhead CID points to accomplishments during 2016, since 1999 founding

By John Schaffner

The Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID) has come a long way since it was founded in 1999:

  • Projects and studies have increased 500 percent, from six to more than 30.
  • Almost 97 percent of the funds raised from commercial property owners go toward BCID projects.
  • Over $60million in BCID tax dollars raised have been invested in Buckhead.
  • Almost $110 million has been raised from other sources, helping tax dollars go further.
  • Approximately 350 parcels of land are now part of the BCID, with 73 parcels being added in 2016—more than a 26 percent increase.

“Every day, the BCID works hard to create a more walkable, livable urban environment” in Buckhead, states the organization’s recap of 2016 activities, which was released at the end of the year.

BCID Executive Director Jim Durrett told BuckheadView, “2016 was a great year for us and for Buckhead.”

The report states the BCID is currently working on more than 30 transportation projects and programs (some of which have been in the works for many years) and include items such as:

  • Traffic model to predict future traffic volumes,
  • Pedestrian connectivity study to make Buckhead more walkable,
  • BUCKHEAD REdeFINED master planning effort to shape Buckhead’s Future (See BuckheadView’s Story, here), and
  • Smart City initiative with the city of Atlanta to install “smart” light poles that can monitor traffic, collect pollution data and help monitor and prevent crime.

But that is just part of the story. After years of seemingly no progress, it appears 2017 will be the year the Peachtree Road Transformation Project will show real visible progress because of activity during 2016.

Over the past year, the BCID has been working on phases three and four of Peachtree Road’s streetscape project.

The abover graphic shows a proposed design for Phase 3 of the Peachtree Road project.

The Peachtree Road Phase III streetscape project will include sidewalk improvements, bike lanes, a landscaped median, pavement resurfacing, traffic signal upgrades, decorative lighting and street trees from Maple Drive to Shadowlawn Avenue. The project is currently in the right-of-way acquisition phase, with construction scheduled to begin in summer 2017.

The project is being federally funded, with matching funding being provided by the BCID and the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, and will be managed by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). However, the BCID will play a role in project oversight to ensure successful project delivery.

The Peachtree Road Phase IV streetscape project will be implemented in two sub-phases:

Pavement Resurfacing: The resurfacing project will include lane reconfiguration to accommodate two northbound lanes, three southbound lanes and a center turn lane from Shadowlawn Avenue to Sheridan Drive (the BCID southern boundary.) The resurfacing project is scheduled to begin the first quarter of 2017. This project will be funded locally by the BCID.

The 6-lane southbound proposed alternative that could be used between Pharr Road and Peachtree Battle Avenue. However, that concept is still under review.

Streetscape Project: The scope will include sidewalk improvements, traffic signal upgrades, decorative lighting and street trees from Shadowlawn Avenue to Sheridan Drive, and the plans and project schedule are currently being developed. This project will likely have funding participation from state or federal sources, as well as from the BCID.

Two additional transportation projects on the BCID books for at least a year are plans for a roundabout to ease traffic woes at the intersection of Wieuca Road and Phipps Boulevard, just north of Peachtree Road, and a “Complete Streets” project on East Paces Ferry Road at the Lenox MARTA Station.

On Nov. 8, voters approved a referendum to collect an additional 0.4 percent sales tax to fund projects that will improve transportation in Atlanta. This T-SPLOST will generate approximately $300 million over a five-year period to fund significant transportation projects citywide.

The Buckhead CID will receive $3.75 million for the roundabout project at the intersection of Wieuca Road and Phipps Boulevard. The project, which is currently in the conceptual design phase, will relieve traffic congestion and improve safety at the busy intersection.

The Buckhead CID has partnered with the city to transform a portion of East Paces Ferry Road into a Complete Street, which will run from Roxboro Road to the Gordon C. Bynum Bridge. The project will include a multi-use trail, pedestrian crossings with flashing beacons, landscaped median and decorative lighting. Funding for this project is being provided by the Buckhead CID as well as Renew Atlanta bond funding. Construction is expected to start in the first quarter of 2017.

Aerial map shows the path for the East Paces Ferry Road “Complete Street” project, including a multi-use trail for pedestrian and bike use.

“In 2016 we made some good progress advancing the makeover of Peachtree from Maple Drive to Sheridan, teeing up implementation for 2017, as well as developing the design and plans to improve East Paces Ferry behind Lenox Square between GA400 and Roxboro Road,” Durrett told BuckheadView.

“We also launched three planning exercises: BUCKHEAD REdeFined, Lenox Road Scoping Study, and development of the concept for a potential park over GA400, that will point the way forward for numerous improvements within the district,” Durrett said.

Looking forward, Durrett explained, “2017 will see the implementation of several road and streetscape improvement projects as well as the advancement of plans for both road and streetscape improvements and our aspirations for the park.”

Probably the most visionary project the BCID has launched since 1999 is what has been dubbed an urban park in the sky—a proposed 9-acre park proposed to be built in the air rights over GA 400 and the Buckhead MARTA rail station and might cost well over $200 million.

The idea for the park over GA 400 began over 20 years ago, when area stakeholders began discussing the idea of covering GA400 between Lenox Road and Peachtree Road with a park.

This graphic was produced as part of an earlier preliminary study of the proposed “Park in the Sky” over Ga 400 in Buckherad.

The idea re-emerged as a recommendation in 2010 during the completion of the Buckhead Greenspace Action Plan as a way to increase the amount of greenspace in City Council District 7, the most under parked council district in Atlanta.

Since then, area stakeholders have been exploring this complex idea. The idea is moving forward with Rogers Partners’ design and vision plan. The concept is envisioned to create a significant community gathering space in the heart of Buckhead’s commercial core.

Following the announcement in last September, the proposed park over GA400 has received resounding support from a majority of the community through a survey that was launched by BUCKHEAD REdeFINED.

Preliminary results from the survey, which to date has had over 550 participants, noted the following:

  • 82 percent either like or love the park over GA400 design concept as is,
  • Desired improvements to the park over GA400 design concept include: improved access from surrounding points, more greenspace in the park, inclusion of a dog park, entertainment and

    The graphic shows how the 1/3-mile-long park would fit over GA 400 in the central business district of Buckhead. Peachtree Road is at left and Lenox Road at right.

    event space and traffic impact considerations,

  • Outdoor activities that participants identified as desiring most while visiting the park included:
    78 percent: Walking, Running, Jogging and Exercising
    75 percent: Sitting outside while reading, people-watching, eating lunch, talking with friends
    69 percent: Attending a local arts fair, festival, green market, or other special event
    1 percent: Attending a movie night, music concert, or outdoor play
  • It appears that more than 37,000 dogs live in the district, so amenities for dog walkers will be important
  • Respondents thought that primary funding sources should come from the City, the BCID, philanthropic contributions, leasable park concession space, and sponsorship revenue.

BCID and Rogers Partners plan to release the complete survey findings this month. In addition, Jim Durrett, executive director of BCID, will be conducting a variety of public speaking engagements in the coming months to discuss the park in more detail. Durrett appeared before the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods last Thursday as part of that program.

More projects like this are also popping up around the city, including The Stitch and the recently announced 20-acre park aspiration plan in Sandy Springs.

The entry point on Lenox Road to the currently completed north section of PATH400.

Both the park over GA 400 and them Sandy Springs park plan are likely to become part of the present PATH400 Greenway trail project through Buckhead, of which BCID is a major sponsor with Livable Buckhead, the city and the PATH Foundation. There already are plans in the works to extend PATH400 into Sandy Springs.

On a smaller-scale park note, The Charlie Loudermilk Park was a focal point of activity for the BCID in 2016 and likely the new design will be completed in 2017 with the installation of a John Portman sculpture at the apex of the park where Peachtree and Roswell roads meet.

Also in 2016, the famed Buck Storyteller statue that once graced Charlie Loudermilk Park found a new home in front of the Buckhead branch of the Fulton County Library on Buckhead Avenue.

The statue was created by Alabama artist Frank Fleming and features a bronze sculpture of a man with a buck’s head seated on a log telling the story of Buckhead to several woodland creatures.

The Storyteller statue that was originally commissioned by the Buckhead Coalition for Charlie Loudermilk Park. It now resides in front of the Buckhead Library branch.

The statue, which was commissioned for more than $200,000 by the Buckhead Coalition in 1998, sat in storage during the renovation of Charlie Loudermilk Park. In November, the “Buck Storyteller was positioned in front of the place where stories are abundant and hundreds of visitors will enjoy this iconic piece of art,” the BCID newsletter stated.

“A new sculpture by John Portman will also be installed at the southern corner of Charlie Loudermilk Park,” Durrett said, forecasting, “2017 should be just as exciting as was 2016.”

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