As the development freeze that followed the real estate crash completes its thaw, Buckhead is the epicenter of an infill building boom that seems poised to allow one of Atlanta's most important commercial and residential areas to achieve its full potential as a 'place.' Though long home to key businesses and some of the city's most affluent residential neighborhoods, Buckhead has largely functioned as a auto-centric patchwork of districts spread along the artery of Peachtree Road and spidering-out among other corridors along the City of Atlanta's northwest borders. As civic and neighborhood groups like the Buckhead Coalition and Livable Buckhead work to integrate these scattered neighborhoods into a cohesive, greener, more pedestrian-friendly community, the question is begged: where is the "center" of Buckhead?
Some recent actions on the part of the Buckhead Coalition suggest they think it should be Lenox Square, which makes some sense. Proximate to both I-85 and GA 400 and served by multiple MARTA stops, Lenox, its sister mall Phipps Plaza and the revitalized Shops Around Lenox constitute a city and regional shopping capital. The Lenox area is also home to the greatest density of Buckhead office towers and a substantial concentration of apartments (in addition to its proximity to several Buckhead single family neighborhoods). But the scale of this part of Buckhead's built environment and the way it interacts with the street doesn't necessarily engender a walkable, pleasant gathering place.
One may suggest that as Atlanta's office and visitor-focused Downtown is to its more vibrant, day-to-day livable Midtown, the Lenox area is to the ascendant 'Buckhead Village'. Though this area of Buckhead (concentrated around the intersection of Peachtree, West Paces Ferry and Roswell Roads) has seemed somewhat hollow ever since the bar district was torn down in favor of Ben Carter's unrealized Streets of Atlanta dream, to say that the Buckhead Village is experiencing a resurgence is an understatement.
Indeed, a plethora of new apartment projects, the resumption of construction on the re-imagined Buckhead Atlanta and other planned real estate developments seem likely to again propel the area into a cohesive (if extremely upscale) gathering place for the city. And though the Village area is located in a MARTA rail gap, the emergence of the BeltLine as new connective tissue within Atlanta's core holds the promise of a different sort of accessibility that doesn't necessarily involve a car.
Whatever one's belief or preference in a particular section of Buckhead, competition to become the neighborhood's heart is undoubtedly positive. And perhaps an ongoing competition with no clear winner would be the best result.
· Buckhead Coalition sees Lenox Square as town square [Reporter Newspapers]
· The Buckhead Coalition [official site]
· Livable Buckhead [official site]
· Buckhead Atlanta [official site]