Buckhead CID’s executive director refutes parts of story about Ga. 400 park project

By David Pendered

Jim Durrett, executive director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District, strongly refuted Tuesday the notion that plans are afoot to tax condo owners in Buckhead to raise money for a planned park above Ga. 400, as reported in SaportaReport. Durrett also said the park’s financial model has been made public.

buckhead aerial park, walkway

The proposed linear park in Buckhead would create a scenic connection in the corridor above Ga. 400, between Lenox and Peachtree roads. Credit: inhabit.com

Durrett touched on several topics in a telephone conversation Tuesday morning to state his views about a story posted late Monday on SaportaReport titled: Taxing condo owners in Buckhead to pay for a planned park to be built above Ga. 400?

Here are bullet points of Durrett’s comments:

  • There are no plans to seek to tax condo owners in Buckhead to build and maintain the park;
  • The estimated cost of constructing the park has not increased;
  • Sources of funding to build and maintain the park have been identified and discussed in public;
  • Details of the funding are to be finalized in 2018 by a non-profit entity being created to take over the park projected from Buckhead CID;
  • The non-profit entity now has nine board members; the Buckhead CID will add more members.

The story posted Monday reported that “indications are emerging” of a possible tax plan to help fund construction and maintenance of a proposed park to be built above Ga. 400.

Jim Durrett

Jim Durrett

The indications include the possibility of asking the state Legislature to pass a law to authorize Atlanta to assess an additional property tax on condos in Buckhead. Proceeds of the property tax would flow to the Buckhead CID for the purpose of building and maintaining the park.

Durrett wrote a comment on the original story flatly refuting the notion of any plans to seek to collect additional property tax on condos. This is Durrett’s complete comment:

  • “With all due respect to Mr. Pendered, who I consider a friend who covers well very important issues for Saporta Report, in this case he got it flat wrong. First, not only is the Buckhead CID not researching or pursuing funding from condominium owners for any purpose, we also have explicitly stated in public that we are NOT seeking funding from condo owners. He does use the phrases “speculation” and “indications are emerging” in his article, but it would have been nice to have heard from him as he was putting together this piece of conjecture.”

In the phone call earlier Tuesday, Durrett outlined the plan to fund construction and maintenance of the proposed park.

“The funding model is well known for quite a while, a maintenance and capital stack,” Durrett said.

buckhead aerial park, locator map

The boundaries of the planned 9-acre park are Lenox Road, to the north, and Peachtree Road, to the south. Credit: mapquest.com, David Pendered

“The capital stack is envisioned as a combination of CID funding, philanthropic gifts, part in some way by the City of Atlanta, part in some way by the Georgia Department of Transportation,” Durrett said. “We would seek grants from the federal government. We’re actively engaging with MARTA to see what they might be able to do, since we’re looking at significant upgrades [to the Buckhead Station] and ridership.

“Maintenance [funds could include] future CID funds, sponsorship programs and beverage concessions,” Durrett said. “It’s something we have to look at with our consultant…. They have been involved with Klyde Warren Park [in Dallas] and dozens and dozens of parks in the U.S.”

Durrett said Tuesday that the estimated construction cost of the park is not escalating, as reported in the story. Durrett said the current construction estimate of $250 million has been in use for, “maybe a year now.

Durrett said in the “early, early” conceptual phase, the cost estimate was in the range of $190 million to $250 million.”

“It has not crept up at all,” Durrett said. “In fact, we put the cost out there. We’ve shown how it was calculated, shown the contingencies built into it.”

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

1 reply
  1. Jim Durrett says:

    One more correction: The steering committee has nine members currently. They are not the same as the nonprofit entity. They will be providing advice to the philanthropic feasibility study being conducted by Coxe Curry and Associates, and then providing advice to the nonprofit entity’s board, to be announced soon. The nonprofit entity is in formation right now.Report

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