Momentum Building for HUB404
By Jim Durrett, President of the Buckhead Coalition and Executive Director of the Buckhead CID
HUB404 – a proposed highway-capping park that would transform the heart of Buckhead – is building momentum and making great progress toward becoming a reality. Like many projects, HUB404 took a bit of a hiatus during the pandemic, but now it’s back and will soon be at full steam thanks to several promising developments.
The project’s momentum began to build with the recent hiring of the first executive director of the HUB404 Conservancy, Anthony Rodriguez. The HUB404 Conservancy is the private-sector partner of the Buckhead CID in our collective pursuit of this world-class gathering place. Anthony will direct all activities of the nonprofit as relates to the funding, design, operations and programming for the award-winning project, leveraging his decades of experience in nonprofit leadership and community service. He previously co-founded and served as president, CEO and producing artistic director of the Aurora Theatre, the second-largest nonprofit professional theatre production company in Georgia. During his tenure, Aurora Theatre grew from a startup with one employee and a $50,000 annual budget to a professional company with nearly 30 employees and a $4.2 million annual budget. Anthony also serves on the boards for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and assists the Atlanta Regional Commission and National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures.
I have gotten to know Anthony through Atlanta Regional Commission activities over the years. I have been impressed with his enthusiasm, his magnetism, and his passion for community. Not only is he the right person to help the Conservancy board in its immediate mission to generate private sector support – financial and otherwise – for HUB404, but Anthony is also ideally suited to lead the ultimate operations and programming for the park once it is built and open to the public.
Another major development for HUB404 is the very recent announcement from Congresswoman Nikema Williams that she has included the project in her Community Project Funding Requests for FY2023. There are still many steps to go before the funding is approved and distributed, but HUB404 should receive as much as $1.175 million as a first installment in federal support for our district’s most significant public realm improvement.
Conceptual design and engineering for the third phase of the Buckhead CID’s Lenox Road complete street project has begun, and it includes a major connection to the HUB404 project. Today there is no safe way for people on foot or on two wheels to navigate the GA 400 / Lenox Road interchange, so we are pursuing elevated bridges to address this lack of connectivity (see image.) These bridges will connect to the PATH400 greenway trail, and they will also give the public access to the north end of the future HUB404.
Finally, there is the possibility of additional federal funding due to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. We are currently working with our public sector partners and others to take full advantage of this opportunity to better connect our Buckhead community in meaningful ways.
It’s exciting to see this much-needed project coming back to life, and you can expect to hear much more good news in the future.