A dramatic design for a new park capping Ga. 400 through the business district got its first public presentation—and first public questions—at the Buckhead Theatre Sept. 7.

The serpentine design curving above a half-mile of the highway in a series of bridges drew attention for its looks, and also for its estimated cost of $195 million to $245 million.

A map of the park over 400 and its possible stages. (Rogers Partners)
A map of the park over 400 and its possible stages. (Rogers Partners)

“I’m always in favor of more green space for Buckhead, if we can afford it,” said Livable Buckhead board member Sally Silver. “We don’t have answers to how it’s going to be funded.”

The Buckhead Community Improvement District, a self-taxing business district, has discussed the possible park for years and commissioned the current proposal from Rogers Partners Architects + Urban Designers. The idea is to provide more green space in central Buckhead.

Robert M. Rogers from Rogers Partners  presented the designs of the 9-acre linear park over Ga. 400 as a way to make strategic connections to enhance the life of the district. The park would span from Lenox Road to Peachtree Street, connecting MARTA’s Buckhead Station between the Atlanta Financial Center and Lenox Road/Buckhead Loop.  There would be connections with two MARTA stations and the PATH400 multiuse trail and park system.

The park would be built atop a series of relative slender bridges, rather than a tunnel completely capping the highway. That would be easier to build, Rogers said.

The park would consist of three parts: a “Garden,” a “Plaza” and a “Commons” area bisected by a line of trees for shade.  The garden would be a more intimate space for public art, strolling and picnicking. The plaza would have space for a big screen, gatherings and food trucks. The Commons would include an amphitheater and space for outdoor sports and activities.

An illustration of the park's "Garden" area. (Rogers Partners)
An illustration of the park’s “Garden” area. (Rogers Partners)

Many residents attending the session expressed concern about funding, park safety, and traffic.

Residents of the MeridianBuckhead condos, joined by General Manager Edward Jarrett, expressed concerns about possible tax increases from the park project.

Some CID board members have had similar questions about costs, feasibility and whether it is appropriate for the CID to design such a park.

No funds for the park are in place. The CID hopes to seek funds from both the public and private sector, including federal, state and city money.

As for traffic, the CID hopes to use materials that can be created offsite and installed to minimize traffic on one of the metro area’s busiest roadways. No additional parking would be created for the park, with hopes that visitors would use existing parking lots for evening and weekend events.

The CID is accepting public input on the park proposal, and its board eventually will vote on whether to move ahead with further design and construction. That could happen as early as the board’s October meeting, according to the CID website. For more information and a full presentation of the park proposal, see the CID’s website.

–Jaclyn Turner