Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta expects its massive expansion along I-85 in Brookhaven to serve as a catalyst to revive and improve the area, the hospital’s chief operating officer told the Buckhead Business Association as he outlined the plans.

“Right now this is a lovely mishmash of 50-year-old buildings. There are not many trees. It doesn’t flow well. The traffic around there is not good,” COO Patrick Frias said. “Quite frankly, we feel we can be the catalyst to change all that.”

A map shows the planned infrastructure improvements around the future Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Brookhaven campus. (CHOA)

CHOA plans to open a complex on a 70-acre Brookhaven lot in 2026. The complex is planned to include a $1.3 billion hospital, support buildings for staff, the Center for Advanced Pediatrics and more than 20 acres of green space on a large lot at I-85 and North Druid Hills Road near Brookhaven’s border with Buckhead.

“Isn’t it exciting what’s happening in our back yard?” Chris Godfrey, the president of the BBA, asked the audience at the organization’s May 31 luncheon where Frias laid out CHOA’s plans.

The new hospital will replace the Egleston Hospital on Clifton Road near Emory University. CHOA has outgrown Egleston and couldn’t do the expansion it needed to there, Frias said.

After searching and doing studies, which included surveying its 400,000 patients, CHOA landed on Brookhaven, he said.

City officials have been excited about the expansion, but some residents, particularly those immediately adjacent, have expressed concern the hospital could worsen already problematic traffic congestion.

In the hope of alleviating some of those traffic issues, CHOA has committed $40 million to infrastructure improvements over the next nine years, including contributing toward a redesigned I-85 interchange.

CHOA will also redirect most hospital traffic onto an access road, Frias said.

“We want to be good stewards,” he said. “We want to be known for doing our part to helping our community.”

CHOA plans to build multiuse paths within and around the campus that will eventually connect to the Peachtree Creek Greenway and the Atlanta BeltLine, Frias said.

The interior paths are planned to be limited to patients and family only, but the paths along the perimeter will be open to the public, he said.
As part of the 20-acre green space, CHOA plans to plant hundreds of trees, Frias said.

“What is now a concrete jungle is going to have twice as many hardwood trees,” he said.

With the Center for Advanced Pediatrics, which is already under construction, CHOA hopes to consolidate all the specialists and services needed to children with complex diseases, Frias said.

The center will allow patients to receive the treatments they need in one place, rather than driving around the city, he said.

“Imagine you’re coming from up in Cumming or around Tifton where you’re not used to this traffic. That’s pretty difficult to do,” he said.

The center will begin to open in a phased opening this July, he said.

Frias reiterated that the building is not a hospital as CHOA fears people will think it has an emergency room.

“Tell all your friends and your neighbors,” he said. “We’re very worried. We’re putting up big signs saying it’s not an [emergency room].”

To meet a growing need, CHOA is expanding its other campuses, including the Scottish Rite Hospital in Sandy Springs. It added a fifth story to the building to accommodate 60 new beds in 2017, he said.

“Scottish Rite is very important and serves part of our community that we don’t want to step away from,” he said.