Turning “Dead Space” Into Green Space

Turning “Dead Space” Into Green Space

Atlanta reveals designs for its first highway-capping park. 

Rendering of the proposed Buckhead Park over GA400 (Credit: Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Designers and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects)

Potential designs were recently revealed for a highway-capping park in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The concept, first announced last fall, envisions nine acres of green space over the Buckhead MARTA station and Georgia State Road 400 between Lenox and Peachtree roads. The goal is to promote growth and development by reconnecting parts of Buckhead’s central business district that were severed by the freeway’s construction in the 1990s.

“If you were looking at any place to do a park [in Buckhead], this would be ground zero,” said David Allman, chairman and CEO of development firm Regent Partners and chairman of the Buckhead Community Improvement District, which proposed the concept. “It’s what cities in the 21st century that want to be competitive are doing.”

New York City-based architecture and urban design firm Rogers Partners worked with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects on the design, which is inspired by Klyde Warren Park in Dallas and the High Line in New York. It features several stepped seating areas that double as stairs and a mixture of tree-lined pathways and grassy lawns.

The Buckhead Park Over GA400 would also connect with the PATH400 Greenway Trail the spine of Buckhead’s under-construction trail system. That system, in turn, will eventually connect to Atlanta’s lauded BeltLine trail. MARTA riders arriving at the Buckhead station would exit into the park itself.

Allman estimated that the proposal will cost between $195 million and $245 million, and would likely be paid for with a mix of local, state, federal, private and CID funds. Planners expect the park would generate some of its own revenue through events and concessions.

View of the park from the PATH400 trail (Credit: Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Designers and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects)

Last week, at the first meeting between Buckhead CID and nearby residents and business owners about the design, attendees were largely supportive. One Buckhead resident said she was “extremely impressed” by the proposal. Her husband agreed, saying the park “would create a showpiece out of a ‘dead space,’” according to the Journal-Constitution.

“My concern is when and how, not why not,” he said.

The Buckhead Park Over GA400 isn’t the only highway-capping proposal in Atlanta right now. In August, the downtown improvement district Central Atlanta Progress released a proposal for a deck park that would reestablish links between midtown and downtown by capping about three-quarters of a mile of I-75 and I-85. “The Stitch,” as it’s called, would cost an estimated $300 million and isn’t funded yet. Unlike the Buckhead project, “The Stitch” also promises to open up currently unused land for redevelopment.

Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.

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Tags: parksatlanta

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