John F. Schaffner
Let’s just say it up front: I like the new “boulevard” look to Peachtree Road—the first phase of which was recently completed and dedicated between Maple Drive to the south and the Buckhead MARTA station to the north.
I think it adds a touch of class, a touch of beauty to an area that could have just become an ugly cavern between tall concrete and marble buildings in the very heart of Buckhead.
It may not be the same as Paris or London, but it is an uplifting visual delight regardless, and it is ours.
Not only is the streetscape project on Peachtree beautiful—even though it is only the first phase of others to come—but the manner in which it was accomplished also was beautiful.
As 300 or more of those directly or indirectly involved in the success of this project stood on Peachtree outside the Intercontinental Hotel to formally dedicate the completion of Phase I, Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell said, “I thank the business property owners in this district for voluntarily agreeing to be taxed extra for these improvements.”
He, of course, was referring to the members of the Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID) who agreed to allow their Buckhead business properties to be taxed extra to pay for improvements that the city of Atlanta could not afford to pay for itself from general tax dollars.
But that is not all that some of these businesses contributed.
David Allman, president of the Buckhead CID, explained that some of these business owners also donated very valuable Buckhead real estate for right-of-way to make this project work.
“You can look around you and see the impact that this project is having and will continue to have—billions of dollars in new development and escalating real estate values.
“Projects like this change the way Atlantans feel about this corridor,” Allman added. “This Peachtree corridor is our future….This is our growth corridor. We must continue to invest in this corridor.”
It was good to celebrate the transformation of this 1.5 mile section of Peachtree Road—11,500 linear feet of new 11-foot-wide sidewalks, 186 willow oak trees, 50,000 square feet of green space, 83 modern benches, 188 modern light posts, 48 newly painted pedestrian crosswalks, bike lanes, enhanced transit stops, and a six-foot-wide, tree-lined median with flower plantings.
It is a beautiful thing. But it cannot stop here. It needs to continue north from the Buckhead MARTA station to the Brookhaven line on Peachtree, and south from Maple Drive to the Streets of Buckhead. That means more money and more sacrifice of right-of-way from business owners in Buckhead.
I sense it will happen. And that will truly be a thing of beauty.
An ugly thing avoided?
We have to applaud the BeltLine administrators, their consultants, PATH Foundation and, I suspect, some forces at City Hall for listening to the neighbors and “Friends” of Tanyard Creek Park and finally understanding that a 12- to 15-foot-wide concrete trail through the beautiful green meadow of the park—where 6,500 soldiers died during the Civil War and today families, teenagers and college students frolic, picnic and play games—was probably not the best idea.
They now have agreed to move the path of the trail to the western side of Tanyard Creek and out of the meadow. And, there is the possibility that much of the trail will be a raised wooden boardwalk to better fit in with the environment of the park.
The new plan is a beautiful thing. The original plan was an ugly thing for all involved and especially the park.
It just doesn’t make sense
It was refreshing to hear Buckhead CID Executive Director Scotty Greene, who has been a strong proponent of the all aspects of the Peachtree Corridor proposal offered by the mayor’s task force, say at the recent quarterly luncheon of the Buckhead Business Association that Peachtree corridor trolley—which I have dubbed the “trolley folly”—has no chance of happening for at least 10 years.
Greene said one reason is that there are too many problems with the way it would be paid for. No kidding. It is one thing for businesses to agree to pay extra taxes for something that will help them generate business. It is another for the city to think that residents on either side of Peachtree Road—who likely would not ride a trolley to work or for fun—would pay an extra 1 percent property tax to pay for this folly.
I am happy others apparently realized it has to go down in a category of “things that just don’t make sense.”