A roundabout planned as a replacement for the intersection of Wieuca Road and Phipps Boulevard is heading into the design stage. The Buckhead Community Improvement District board on March 2 approved the selection of Pond & Company to do the work.

A basic concept of the Wieuca Road and Phipps Boulevard roundabout produced by a consultant  in 2015.
A basic concept of the Wieuca Road and Phipps Boulevard roundabout produced by a consultant in 2015.

Meanwhile, the CID is close to a decision about moving forward with a proposed 10-acre park capping Ga. 400 between Lenox and Peachtree roads. Board members are vetting proposals from six design firms and are slated to vote on a top selection at their April 6 meeting.

“We had six outstanding teams [submit]…They absolutely understand the project,” said CID Executive Director Jim Durrett.

The roundabout emerged in a CID study last fall as the best alternative design to improve traffic at the busy Wieuca/Phipps intersection. Estimated to cost more than $2 million to build, the five-legged roundabout would relieve traffic jams 23 hours a day—leaving the evening rush-hour peak still clogged, a consultant previously told the CID board.

The CID chose to move ahead with the roundabout plan and received seven responses to a request for proposals from design firms, Durrett said. The board selected Norcross-based Pond & Company, whose large portfolio of projects includes streetscape improvements in Perimeter Center and Georgia Tech’s North Avenue area.

“Pond & Company had one of the best technical proposals and also the best cost proposal,” said Durrett, adding that the design budget is $225,000.

CID staff now will enter contract negotiations with Pond & Company. The design timeline will depend on when the deal is signed.

The Ga. 400 park idea is moving more slowly. The CID board first raised the concept of capping the open highway with a giant park a year ago. The CID then commissioned a basic feasibility study that said building such a park is possible. But since then, the CID board has sometimes balked on moving forward. Some board members have questioned whether park building is appropriate for the CID, a self-taxing business district typically focused on transportation-oriented projects.

But in January, the board decided to issue a request for proposals for park designs and cost estimates. At the March 2 meeting, Durrett and board members did not reveal the names of any bidders.

While Durrett praised all six proposals received, board member Thad Ellis, a senior vice president at the real estate firm Cousins, voiced a mixed view. A couple of the proposals are just a “fancy regurgitation” of items in the CID request, Ellis said, while another stood out as “fantastic.”

Durrett said a group of board members is vetting the park proposals on technical merits, then will look at each bidder’s cost. The top selection on both counts will go to the board in April, where a designer could be selected, or the whole park idea could be tabled.

“I don’t want to have a discussion of costs influence anybody’s decision [on whether], ‘Is this a great team and do they understand the project?’” Durrett said.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.