Within the City of Atlanta, parks acreage has swelled by nearly 1,000 acres in the past decade, while miles upon miles of multi-use trails have fingered out across the land.
Several mega projects that could fundamentally and physically reshape neighborhoods have launched, too, with others such as Buckhead’s highway-capping Park Over GA400 gaining traction that could help them launch construction in coming years.
To conclude Play Week 2018, we checked in with six major green space initiatives in Atlanta that are either under construction or the recipients of millions in taxpayer funding—or both.
Timelines might fluctuate, construction issues can arise, but one thing is certain: Atlanta’s in for a significantly greener future.
Vine City’s answer to Historic Fourth Ward Park
In the works for half a decade, a transformative green space initiative in Historic Vine City leapt from conceptual phases to construction last year, but the goal of opening Rodney Cook Sr. Park by this past spring obviously didn’t pan out.
“It’s important for me to emphasize that this has been a complex project from the beginning,” Jay Wozniak, Georgia Urban Parks Director with the Trust for Public Land, said this week, “and it will continue to be through construction.”
Nonetheless, work is plowing ahead on the 16-acre park—a $45 million team effort by the City of Atlanta’s parks and watershed departments, the Trust for Public Land, and the National Monuments Foundation. (Astra Group, the same contractor behind Historic Fourth Ward Park and Beltline, was hired to build it).
Wozniak provided a detailed update this week for a project expected to debut next spring:
- Georgia Power transmission poles and lines that once ran through the Cook Park site along Vine St have been rerouted;
- 60,000 cubic yards of clean fill dirt for grading and shaping of the site has been delivered to the site. (Interesting fact: Soil excavated from Grant Park’s parking deck project is being used at Cook Park);
- By November, the watershed department’s scope—including a stormwater-capturing pond, great lawn, and sidewalks and plazas adjacent to the pond—should be finished;
- Before March, the park should have bridge elements, a playground, splash pad, restrooms, children’s performance area, lights, and site furniture;
- By the end of spring 2019, the remaining park features—sport courts, walks, plazas, a fitness zone—should be wrapped.
All of the above is, of course, tentative.
PATH400 plows forward:
Given the programming years associated with federal funding, Buckhead’s answer to the Atlanta Beltline—PATH400—is expected to finish in roughly 2022. But PATH400’s driving force, Denise Starling, Livable Buckhead executive director, told Curbed Atlanta this week: “I will be doing everything I can to push faster.”
PATH400’s first phase, connecting Old Ivy Road to Tower Place, opened in early 2015, and the network is far beyond half-completed. Eventually, the 5.2-mile spine will connect to the Beltline’s Peachtree Creek spur trail, offering a 10- to 14-foot-wide multi-use path for cyclists, skaters, walkers, and runners.
Livable Buckhead is working with Norfolk Southern railroad to launch construction on the next one-mile phase within a month—and to open that segment in roughly a year, weather-permitting. It connects from a pedestrian bridge behind Lenox Square to Miami Circle, tying in to a finished section.
“It threads the needle between two MARTA rail lines, [Norfolk Southern’s] main freight line and Ga. Highway 400,” Starling explains, “and even includes our own little Okefenokee Swamp complete with beaver dams!”
More Atlanta Beltline:
It’s been a very eventful year for one of the world’s most ambitious urban-reclamation projects, the Atlanta Beltline.
To recap: In 2017, the three-mile Westside Trail and its crosstown counterpart, the Eastside Trail extension, debuted. Then, in March, City of Atlanta and Beltline leaders announced the $26 million acquisition of the crescent-shaped Southside Trail corridor—63 acres that would link the west and east segments together, creating about 14 contiguous miles of Beltline. Design work, engineering, and site preparations for the Southside Trail is underway.
Meanwhile, within the past month, construction has launched to extend the Eastside Trail to Memorial Drive.
At the other end of the existing Eastside Trail, engineering launched recently for the Northeast Trail segment, which would link Midtown to the Lindbergh area. Design work is expected to take two and a half years, followed by construction.
Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry:
An Atlanta green space envisioned as being 100 acres larger than Piedmont Park, eventually, is underway.
At the Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry project, the $26 million Phase 1 will debut sometime in 2019 with the new quarry lake and a “carefully designed system of walkways and trails,” punctuated by “an elaborate gateway entrance” and trails leading to [a] city overlook,” as project leaders put it in January. (City officials didn’t respond to requests for project updates this week).
In 2016, the city’s aptly named Driller Mike began a $300 million tunnel-boring mission between the Chattahoochee River and Hemphill Water Treatment Plant that links to the quarry. Ultimately, the reservoir will hold up to a month’s worth of clean water for Atlantans. Once drilling is complete (TBD), it’ll take up to three months for the reservoir to fill with water redirected from the river.
Piedmont Park expansion:
Speaking of Piedmont Park ...
In May, the Atlanta City Council elected to spend $20 million (of the $100 million needed) to purchase three additional acres, which would extend the green space to the corner of Piedmont Avenue and Monroe Drive.
For now, business tenants positioned on those streets will remain, and the expansion project’s launch date is undetermined. The remaining funding will come from private donations, the Beltline, and park impact fees.
Centennial Olympic Park expansion:
Downtown dwellers have likely noticed that the district’s largest park is expanding, now with enhanced skyline views of Midtown.
Announced in March 2017, the improvements and expansion at Centennial Olympic Park are well underway, and the completion of Phase 1 in May marked a milestone.
Launched in June, Phase 2 moves the focus of construction to the park’s Baker Street corner. Water features along Centennial Olympic Park Drive will be extended to the Baker Street corner, creating a welcoming entry point for guests, officials recently told Curbed.
Additional phases of the expansion include upgrades to the Southern Company Amphitheater, allowing the space to be flexible for hosting larger and smaller productions, and the addition of a new bike path.
Construction is on schedule, with completion expected by January 2019.