Community News

Published on March 12th, 2018 |

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Chair of board overseeing park over Ga. 400 says no new taxes for project

Barbara Kaufman Fleming, the chair of a recently formed nonprofit board to oversee the proposed Buckhead park over Ga. 400, is reported to have said in an interview with the Buckhead Reporter newspaper that she does not anticipate raising or creating taxes to pay for the project. “We do not want to raise taxes or anything like that for this project,” Fleming, an entrepreneur and former MARTA board member, told the newspaper.

Jim Durrett, executive director of Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID), announced in February the formation of the nonprofit board that will oversee the next phases of planning, funding and development the park over GA400.

The yet-to-be-named “Atlanta’s Park over GA400” will create nine acres of elevated green space in Buckhead, which currently has the least amount of public park space per capita in the city of Atlanta.

Located at the confluence of Georgia 400, Peachtree Road, PATH400 and the MARTA redline, the park is designed to provide a crucial link and destination on the soon-to-be-completed

A rendering of the proposed park looking north from Peachtree Road in the heart of Buckhead’s major commercial district.

PATH400, a 5.2-mile greenway currently under construction.

The nonprofit board includes a group of Atlanta’s business professionals from a broad range of backgrounds, including engineering, finance, fundraising, public relations, transit management, legal and retailing. The board members include:

Fleming, is the owner of BBK Enterprises, Inc., a consulting business. Her background is in business ownership, accounting, public relations, finance, media and community leadership. She is a co-founder of Chapter 11* The Discount Bookstore, a chain of discount bookstores in Georgia and served as its president and CEO from 1990 to 2002. She has been a director of Omni Financial Services, Inc. since 2003. Kaufman served on the Board of Directors of MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) and Georgia State University and served as a director of Omni National Bank. She is a member of Georgia State University’s Board of Advisors.

Jim Bacchetta, vice president and division manager of Highwoods Properties, is a 30-year commercial and industrial real estate veteran. In his role at Highwoods Properties, Bacchetta is directly responsible for the Atlanta division’s leasing, acquisitions, development, construction and property management. Prior to joining Highwoods in 2006, he was a private investor in industrial properties in Atlanta, and he owned and operated a national trucking company. Bacchetta’s real estate experience includes office, industrial, multi-family, resort and senior housing. He started his career in Atlanta as a certified public accountant with Price Waterhouse, and Consolidated Resources and Anderson Properties. He is an active member of NAIOP and ULI.

Mark Hennessy, co-owner of Hennessy Automobile Company along with brothers Stephen and Peter, owns and operates the largest privately-held automobile dealer in the state of Georgia.

Early rendering of a potential park over Ga 400 between Peachtree and Lenox roads.

Hennessy Auto operates dealerships which sell some of the world’s best known brands, including Buick, Cadillac, Ford, GMC, Honda, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Mazda and Porsche. Hennessy has served on the boards of many metropolitan agencies, including Fort Mac Planning Local Redevelopment Authority and North Fulton Community Improvement District.

Maxine Hicks is partner of the Atlanta real estate practice of DLA Piper, the third-largest law firm in the world with offices in more than 40 countries. She focuses her practice on real estate development with a particular emphasis on large mixed-use, transit-oriented developments, including destinations for stadiums, entertainment, hospitality, club and resort projects. Hicks advises developers, owners and healthcare providers on real estate issues associated with medical office buildings, ambulatory surgery centers, long-term acute care hospitals and hospital campus projects. She has experience in real estate property acquisition, development and leasing, planned communities, distressed assets, state and federal regulation of real estate property, mixed-use community governance and public-private partnerships. She also assists clients with site selection, zoning compliance, contract negotiation, acquisition, construction, property management and lease negotiations.

Theia Smith is founding executive director of the, city of Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative.  She was appointed to her position by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and leads the nation’s only city-funded initiative to conceptualize, design and execute a solution to equalize opportunities for women business owners in Atlanta. She champions equal access to economic self-sufficiency for women and girls, particularly those whose talent is often overlooked and under-sourced. Smith was named one of Atlanta’s “40 Under 40” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, one of Inc. Magazine’s “17 inspiring Women to Watch in 2017,” featured as a “2017 Superwoman” by Atlanta Tribune Magazine and one of “13 Successful Spelman Alumnae to Watch” by Walker’s Legacy.

Jerry C. (Jay) Wolverton, Jr. PE, CEO, Wolverton & Associates, founded Wolverton & Associates in 1989 with the vision of creating a regional, multi-discipline engineering firm providing quality design to clients. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in 32 states with a focus on design and construction of commercial, office, industrial and residential projects. His professional affiliations include the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Council for Quality Growth and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. Wolverton is a champion for growth and development across the metro Atlanta region and the state of Georgia.

The board also will work with the recently announced volunteer Steering Committee, which will serve as an advisory group to the Park’s project leadership during the planning and fundraising phase.

The Steering Committee members represent a variety of corporate, nonprofit and education heavy-hitters, including: Paul Brown, CEO of Arby’s; David D. Cummings, CEO of  Atlanta Tech Village; Raj Deshpande, CEO of Pulseworks LLC; Lane Moore, managing partner of  QuarterMoore and co-founder of Rubicon Global; Keith Parker, CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia; Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine; Robert Sheft, CEO of Installation Made Easy, Inc.; Larry Smith, former general counsel of The Home Depot; and Carol Tomé, CFO and executive vice president of Corporate Services of The Home Depot.

Since July, BCID has worked with its project partners, ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, to develop a detailed plan to name the park, create a nonprofit entity to manage construction and operations, and prepare for the design, engineering and permitting phase, to begin in January 2018.

The goal is to have community involvement throughout the process. “Ground-making” for the project is planned for 2020 and the park is projected to open by 2022, and be fully operational by 2023, significantly reducing previous timelines by 12 to 24 months.

–John Schaffner

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