A rendering of a potential segment of the BeltLine’s Northwest Trail, showing a connection to the Tanyard Park Greenway. A meeting in May will provide more guidance on the future route of the Northwest Trail.

The James M. Cox Foundation has donated $30 million to the Atlanta BeltLine.

Combined with the $80 million secured late last year from The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, BeltLine officials say they now have the philanthropic funding needed to finish the 22-mile trail corridor by 2030.

“I’m so excited that this gift will let us finish constructing that big, beautiful circle around Atlanta,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in an announcement.

According to a BeltLine spokesperson, the donation from the Cox Foundation will specifically fund the construction of the BeltLine’s Northwest Trail, which is currently in design in partnership with the PATH Foundation.

The roughly 4.5-mile trail will run from the Huff Road and Marietta Boulevard area (in West Midtown) to the existing Northside Trail (at Tanyard Creek and Atlanta Memorial parks), extending east to the future Northeast Trail (near the Armour/Ottley district).

The Northwest Trail is a complex project that must navigate a major highway, active railroads and the city’s most famous street, Peachtree. Unlike other parts of the BeltLine, the northwest segment doesn’t have abandoned railroad corridors to repurpose for trails.

A meeting is set for May 12 at 6 p.m. to reveal the prioritized trail alignments for the Northwest Trail.

The Cox Foundation and its Chairman Jim Kennedy have helped build Atlanta’s trail network through the PATH Foundation since 1991. Kennedy helped launch the BeltLine by co-chairing its first fundraising campaign in 2007 and made an early donation that helped fund the Eastside Trail, according to an announcement.

In total, Kennedy and the Cox Foundation have donated $44 million to the BeltLine. “From our experience building the PATH trails, we know what a difference it makes for people to be able to be outside, exercising, meeting neighbors and building the sense of community we all need,” Kennedy said.

The Cox Foundation is a philanthropic entity of Cox Enterprises, which owns The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Atlanta Beltline is one of the nation’s most ambitious redevelopment projects. When complete, it will connect 45 neighborhoods through trails, parks and ultimately transit. The BeltLine also is working to bring jobs and affordable housing to intown Atlanta neighborhoods.

“We are incredibly grateful to the James M. Cox Foundation for their support of the Atlanta BeltLine and knitting the city together through a trail network,” said Clyde Higgs, president and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine.

Amy Wenk

Amy Wenk was editor of Reporter Newspapers in 2021-22.