No Little Plans in Buckhead
Daniel Burnham, the American architect and urban planner who lived in the late 1800s and early 1900s, famously spoke the following in 1910:
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men`s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever- growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.”
Here in Buckhead, we make big plans, and our blood is stirred as those plans assert themselves with insistency. I wanted to share where we are with two of those big plans: remaking Lenox Road into a beautiful corridor for people and creating a gathering place we call HUB404 that will knit the community together, bridging divides that are barriers to vibrancy.
Both of these plans are included in the latest update to Buckhead’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plan, a plan partly funded through a program of the Atlanta Regional Commission that encourages land use planning geared toward transportation efficiency and connectedness. The goal of the program is to “create vibrant, walkable places that offer increased mobility options, encourage healthy lifestyles and provide improved access to jobs and services.” And that is exactly what we are doing in our district.
Lenox Road Complete Street
Within the Buckhead CID, Lenox Road extends from East Paces Ferry Road behind Lenox Square at the Lenox MARTA Station, up to Peachtree past Phipps Plaza, and across GA 400 to Piedmont Road. Since the LCI plan was adopted in 2017, we have been working to design, engineer and fund the transformation of Lenox Road.
We divided our Lenox Road effort into three sections. Section I, which goes from the Lenox MARTA Station to Peachtree Road, will be under construction later this year as we will be seeking bids this month. The focus of this section will be the Lenox Boardwalk, a new urban linear park that includes a 10’-12’ multiuse trail along the west side of Lenox Road.
Section II goes from Peachtree to Phipps Boulevard and the entrance to Alliance Center. This section is under design right now, and we hope to be under construction in 2024. We will greatly enhance pedestrian infrastructure, traffic flow and overall appearance. This section of roadway leads to some of Buckhead’s top-rated shopping centers and a major part of the commercial core. Improvements will focus on adding larger sidewalks, ramps, staircases and additional lighting.
Section III goes from Phipps Boulevard to Piedmont Road. The concept report should be approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation this month, and we will then enter the design and engineering phase. If all goes to plan, construction could begin in 2025. When completed, one will be able to walk or cycle the entire corridor, including through the interchange with GA 400. A series of bridges will be constructed that will connect to the PATH400 trail to the north and allow people on foot and on two wheels to navigate through the interchange without mixing with automobile traffic. These bridges will also be the first phase of the HUB404 park.
HUB404 began as an idea in 2015 when we asked the question, could we build a park over GA 400?
There are three reasons we pursued this transformational project. First, there is no large, central community gathering place in Buckhead – one of the most significant employment and activity centers with a growing residential population in the Southeastern United States. Second, for this center to thrive in the decades ahead, we need to become more walkable, and this park would bridge a significant gap in our infrastructure for people mobility and accessibility. Third, we will be able to directly connect with and transform the Buckhead MARTA Station, making it a truly transit-oriented park.
In 2016, we went from what could we build to what should we build.
For the past six years (including those lost pandemic years), we have developed a detailed concept design, collaborating with Georgia DOT and MARTA – an essential approach when pursuing a linear park over three state routes and a heavy rail line. We launched an independent nonprofit entity called the HUB404 Conservancy with which to collaborate. And we began to seek federal funding to help make our big plan possible.
As I write this, I have just received an email from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), congratulating the Buckhead CID on our $750,000 grant to advance the project, and instructing me on what steps to take. Thanks is due to U.S. Representative Nikema Williams for lobbying with HUD for the grant. Three days ago, we worked with the Atlanta Regional Commission to submit a federal RAISE grant application to the U.S. DOT that would allow us to get to 60% design and engineering. My expectation is that we will begin the engineering and design phase late this year.
As the Buckhead CID works with our public sector partners to achieve this vision, the HUB404 Conservancy will be reaching out to the private sector, as this is truly a public/private partnership that requires everybody to get on board.
Please connect with the HUB404 Conservancy to learn more about how you might help to make this happen. The views from Peachtree will be greatly enhanced, and so will your Atlanta experience!
One thing is certain – Buckhead has heeded David Burnham’s wise advice, making big plans and aiming high in both hope and work. I look forward to seeing these plans become living things in the years ahead.
Waste of money until you get the crime and street racing under control. Seems like companies are leaving Buckhead for Midtown too. Isn’t Tower Place about to go into default? Atlanta Financial Center was sold at a $40M loss. Buckhead is gone and it ain’t comin’ back anytime soon. Young people think it’s lame and old people think it’s unsafe.Report