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BUCKHEAD REdeFINED Continues Outreach

I would like to thank the more than 100 Buckhead community members for attending and giving their feedback at the last BUCKHEAD REdeFINED meeting on February 27.

We are close to selecting a final set of BUCKHEAD REdeFINED projects for either further analysis or pursuit, but want more community feedback.

The goal of the February 27 meeting was for the BUCKHEAD REdeFINED team to present the three main areas where the public and stakeholders want to see the community improve, which were identified after the January 19 public workshop. These areas include:

Vitality: Activating public spaces to create a more vibrant and stimulating place

Mobility: Improving multi-modal access in, around and throughout Buckhead

Livability: Providing programmatic and policy changes that create a safer, more comfortable and inclusive district

Proposed Projects to address those areas:  

Presenters included Eric Bosman of Kimley-Horn, Bill Tunnell, founding principal for TSW, Rob Rogers, Rogers Partners architecture and urban design firm, and Woody Giles, community planner with TSW, who all focused on proposed projects, including the following:

Vitality:

The discussion about vitality included the idea of creating greener and more open places including parks, retail spaces and other developments. The presenters also mentioned the installation of permanent, temporary, performance or interactive artwork to enhance and beautify areas. More detailed examples include:

  • Expanding Charlie Loudermilk Park into the nearby Bank of America building area
  • Placing a park and office buildings in front of Lenox Mall’s parking lot that fronts Peachtree Road
  • Pursuing the proposed park on top of GA 400 between Lenox Road and Peachtree Road

Mobility:

Buckhead REdeFINED planners want to create ways to make commutes to and from work, Buckhead shops and restaurants easier by creating the following:

  • Buckhead Loop Trail, a multi-use path that would provide much needed east-west connectivity to PATH400 and throughout the district
  • Piedmont Corridor Improvements to increase walkability, add median turn lanes and beautify the streetscape, making south Piedmont more of an attractive gateway into Buckhead from the south
  • A dedicated bicycle lane from the intersection of PATH400 and Old Ivy Rd. to Lenox Square

Livability:

A combination of mobility and vitality improvements in Buckhead will improve the overall community’s livability and make Buckhead a more accessible and livable urban environment.

Connecting Buckhead:

Another way to improve Buckhead’s vitality, mobility and livability is to create interchanges, roads and sidewalks that connect Buckhead for faster and easier transportation.

Below are some potential projects:

  • An enhanced interchange for all users of the road at Lenox Rd. and GA 400
  • New GA 400 interchange behind Lenox Square at East Paces Ferry Road
  • Improvements to the Phipps/Monarch ramp and Peachtree Road/Lenox Road intersection

In order to make these projects happen, we must keep the conversation going! If you would like to learn more about BUCKHEAD REdeFINED and its projects and plans please visit buckheadredefined.com. You can also see a video recap of the meeting by visiting BCID’S Facebook page.

If you have feedback, contact us by social media and visit our site for information on the next meeting.

Thanks again for attending and we look forward to your continued engagement!

Buckhead CID Adds 50 Ways to See What’s Happening in the District

In January, Buckhead CID’s board of directors unanimously voted to spend $705,000 on the addition of 30 cameras and 20 license plate readers for Operation Shield within the BCID boundaries. What does this mean for residents, workers and visitors to our part of town?  Two words – safety and security.

Since 2011, the BCID has worked in partnership with the Atlanta Police Department (APD) and the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF), installing a wireless network-based public safety surveillance system as part of Operation Shield that enables the Atlanta Police Department and the Atlanta Police Video Integration Center to have better eyes and ears on the district.

The camera system, which through 2015 included 19 cameras, provides real-time situational awareness of key areas within the CID and records camera images for post-incident investigation.

I, and the BCID board, want those who live, work, play and shop in Buckhead to feel safe and secure, and I believe these added cameras and license plate readers will strengthen our crime prevention and improve our emergency preparedness.

To learn more about Operation Shield, read our press release. The added cameras and readers are fully supported by the Atlanta Police Foundation, as it helps them to efficiently oversee the community on an ongoing basis.

We anticipate the cameras will be installed throughout the district by this summer, including two additional cameras dedicated to Charlie Loudermilk Park in the heart of Buckhead.

WSB-TV covered the story, and you can see the story here.

The Buckhead Shell Gas Station:From gas station to modern and eco-friendly convenience store

On January 13, the Buckhead Shell gas station, located at the triangular junction of Roswell Road and Powers Ferry Road, shut down to begin remodeling to urbanize this historic and well-known establishment.

The gas station, owned and operated by Smita and Mahesh Patel, will be transformed from a congested building into an eco-friendly and one-of-a-kind convenience store. It will feature an energy efficient “Big Ass” fan, a Beer Cave and full-service carry-out only Dunkin Donuts and Subway.

Buckhead Shell Rennovations

Buckhead Shell Auto-Lift

Since parking is limited, there will be an underground parking garage with four spots and Georgia’s first “Auto-Lift,” an elevator uniquely designed to get cars in and out of the garage without drivers having to use a ramp. This design is unique and is the first to be placed in any building in Georgia.

The station will go green by only using LED lights and 50 plus solar panels on the building and canopy that will be tied into the power grid with an inverter. The building will feature a natural gas powered back-up generator to ensure the lights never go out, no matter what. Rain water will be collected in two underground vaults to be recycled, and there will be a state-of-the-art underground storm water system that will eliminate and/or tremendously reduce the water run-off into the Atlanta storm water system.

For electric car drivers, Georgia Power plans to install an Electric Vehicle DC Fast Charger with two parking spaces the community can use free of charge.

Smita and Mahesh tell me that their focus is to truly serve the community with all forms of alternative energy, while people enjoy a unique shopping experience with great convenience.

Buckhead Shell Rendering - DayUltimately, the station’s redevelopment will transform it into a stunning landmark and business model that will serve as an example to other gas station owners who may otherwise accept the status quo without question.

Buckhead Shell hopes to do business differently and incorporate the best practices that would benefit customers, staff and the community. The station plans to re-open in fall 2017.

The City of Atlanta and its staff have been helpful and supportive, as were the two area Neighborhood Planning Units.

Before Smita and Mahesh could remodel the station, they first had to find an architect that could help them create a design that was modern and worthy of Buckhead.
The challenges in design were numerous, starting with a triangular-shaped 1.5-acre lot, which limits parking and affects the size of the building. They consulted several architects, but international architect, Inato Sema, who designs buildings in tight spaces that are both functional and efficient, produced a unique rendering that won the day. The interior layout was designed by Paragon Solutions from Dallas, Texas. However, the challenge of the final drawings and construction documents fell on the shoulders of architects Randy Pimsler and James Cain from Atlanta who made everything fit and efficient. A lot of “out of the box” thinking created some brilliant ideas, which were truly a local and international effort.  

The Buckhead Shell was first purchased by the Patels in 1998, which was originally known as the old Phillips 66 gas station. A few years later they built out on both sides of the original kiosk to sell grocery products and changed the brand to Shell.

Buckhead Shell Rendering - Night

 

In 2012, they decided to increase the size of the building again. The initial idea was to delete the car wash and enclose that space into a retail area, but that would mean the building would still be an outdated and inefficient building. After years of planning and reviewing designs, the remodeling is finally underway.

The Buckhead Community Improvement District is thrilled about this redevelopment project happening in the community. If you or your company are planning to redevelop a building or piece of land in Buckhead, please let us know so we can share your story on our blog and social media!

Photos Courtesy of Vinny Bose

BUCKHEAD REdeFINED Meeting Recap

By: Jim Durrett

I was energized by the turnout at the BUCKHEAD REdeFINED public workshop on Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Atlanta International School, as well as the potential projects and plans that were presented to a crowd of more than 100 citizens interested in reshaping Buckhead’s future.

The goal was to get feedback on big ideas for multiple prospective projects. Below is a recap of those ideas that were discussed at the meeting:

Lenox Road

According to a BUCKHEAD REdeFINED survey, 34 percent of people said it is unsafe to walk along Lenox Road. The designers behind the Lenox Road scoping study discussed that they want to focus on making it a signature street by increasing safety and making it easily accessible, not only for people in cars, but also for pedestrians and cyclists.

The consultants considered the following character areas on Lenox Road, as well as suggested opportunities for improvements:

  • East Paces Ferry to Peachtree – create a multi-use boardwalk along the western edge of Lenox Road
  • Peachtree to Phipps Boulevard – simplify and clarify the confusing ramps and lanes
  • Phipps Boulevard to Piedmont – consider a Diverging Diamond Interchange at Lenox Road and Ga 400 to better process traffic flow

The overall effect would be to humanize intersections, beautify and activate areas alongside Lenox Road, rationalize traffic and pull people out of their cars in this corridor.

Activating Public Spaces 

This presentation discussed taking semi-public spaces, which are parking lots, green areas around buildings, plazas and more, and redeveloping them into more active and inviting spots. For example adding parks, playgrounds, plazas and squares or placing pop-up retail spaces, vendors, artwork, hosting temporary activities and more.

Park Over Ga 400

The consultants shared that once the concept is fully developed later this year, that should the concept be pursued the design, engineering and other steps for the park will take up to 36 months to complete. In the meantime, the BCID plans to keep conversations with the public going in hopes of gaining more support and creative ideas

Walking Audit Presented by Dan Burden

Dan Burden and Samantha Jones of BlueZones presented findings on their Buckhead walking audit, which took place on January 18. The audit consisted of a 2.5-hour walk along several road corridors.

Burden mentioned that by creating spaces and places – like shops, stores and restaurants in a denser environment within a quarter mile of residences – people would be more likely to skip getting in their cars and walk more often. Of course that translates to fewer cars on the road and less congestion.

What’s Next?

What are the next steps for Buckhead REdeFINED? To make these projects and plans a reality within the next five to seven years with the support and help from the community.

If you want to join in on the conversation and give us your feedback, make sure to attend the next public meeting on February 27 from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Atlanta International School’s main auditorium.

Let the BCID know what you think about Buckhead REdeFINED by writing on our Facebook wall or tweeting @buckheadcid and using the hashtag #redefineBuckhead!

Photos by Paul Muldawer 

 

Reflecting on 2016 and Planning to Redefine in 2017

Since 1999, the mission of the Buckhead Community Improvement District has been to create and maintain a more accessible, livable, walkable and urban community.

We accomplished that mission in 2016 by working on over 30 projects and conducting multiple studies, which are outlined in the infographic below. This includes the Peachtree Road improvements, Piedmont Widening, park over GA400, other transportation projects, beautification projects and more. We hope you’ll take a moment to review the impact made over the past year.

Now that it’s 2017, we have big plans that include getting out in the community to talk more in depth about the park over GA400, and continuing other projects like the Wieuca Road and Phipps Boulevard roundabout, East Paces Ferry Complete Street, Phases III and IV of Peachtree Road’s streetscape project and more. (Link to projects’ pages on site).

I strongly encourage you to take part in setting the vision for Buckhead by participating in Buckhead REdeFINED’s workshops and meetings. The next workshop is on Thursday, January 19 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Atlanta International School in their main auditorium. The event will include a presentation of results from a walking audit, which will take place the day before by national walkability expert Dan Burden.

Following Burden’s presentation, there will be breakout sessions of geographic subareas that will allow participants to give feedback on several project initiatives, including a possible diverging diamond interchange at GA400 and Lenox Rd., the possible removal of the ramps on Lenox Rd. near Phipps Plaza and a possible multi-use “loop” trail to increase bike and pedestrian connectivity.

Tell your friends, young adults and more. We would really like to see a diverse group of people come out and show their support for Buckhead!

If you would like to learn more about the workshop or Buckhead REdeFINED please visit www.buckheadredefined.com.

I hope you’ll attend and help us redefine Buckhead!

BCID Infographic

BCID’s Holiday Traffic Officer Program

Ready, set, shop – is often the feeling you have right after you place the Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge. You become anxious when it comes to holiday shopping and worry about the crowds at the mall, the long lines to get that one gift for someone special and the worst of all holiday terrors – TRAFFIC. This year, don’t fret if you’re traveling to Lenox Square Mall, The Shops Buckhead Atlanta or Phipps Plaza to do your holiday shopping because the Buckhead Community Improvement District (BCID) is launching its holiday traffic officer program for the fifth year starting on Black Friday until December 26.

The holiday traffic officer program focuses on helping traffic move more efficiently during peak rush hour times by keeping the intersections clear when drivers are entering or exiting shopping malls, offices or retail developments. For our list of locations and hours, see below.

Officers will be posted at road intersections that correlate to Lenox Square Mall and Phipps Plaza, and also will include:

  • Peachtree Road at Lenox Road
  • Peachtree Road at Lenox Parkway
  • Peachtree Road at Monarch/Mall Entrance
  • Lenox at Kingsboro Road
  • Lenox Road at Wright Avenue
  • Peachtree at Oak Valley

This year’s holiday traffic officer schedule will be:

 

DAY DATES TIMES
Friday November 25 noon to 9 p.m.
Saturday November 26 2 to 8 p.m.
Friday December 2 4 to 7 p.m.
Saturday December 3 1 to 8 p.m.
Friday December 9 4 to 7 p.m.
Saturday December 10 1 to 9 p.m.
Thursday December 15 4 to 7 p.m.
Friday December 16 4 to 8 p.m.
Saturday December 17 1 to 9 p.m.
Sunday December 18 2 to 9 p.m.
Monday December 19 3 to 8 p.m.
Tuesday December 20 3 to 8 p.m.
Wednesday December 21 3 to 8 p.m.
Thursday December 22 3 to 8 p.m.
Friday December 23 3 to 9 p.m.
Saturday December 24 1 to 6 p.m.
Monday December 26 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Other forms of transportation for the holiday season!

Although you may need a car for large packages, I urge you to consider taking public transportation or even riding your bike to the Buckhead shopping locations for events like the 69th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at Macy’s or to even celebrate the season with a ride on the Pink Pig. Just jump on MARTA and get off at Lenox and Buckhead MARTA station. Click here for more information. You’ll get in and out and avoid traffic during your holiday shopping lowering that stress!

While you’re here, help us make our holiday wish come true of creating a Park Over GA400 and give us feedback by taking this quick survey! Happy Holidays from everyone at the BCID!

Parks Are For People– Your Feedback on the Park Over GA400 Matters!

We were pleased with the turnout at the public meeting to announce the Park Over GA400 on September 7 at the Buckhead Theatre and the positive vote our board provided on October 5. As a result, we continue to refine the concept developed for the park, with a deeper dive into construction costs, programming in the park, how to fund it, and most importantly getting YOUR feedback.

Your thoughts on the Park Over GA400 are critical to our plan because this park will benefit you. It’s important we understand your hopes, needs and ideas for the experience. So stop what you’re doing and take this short survey on the park, then share on your social feeds to help us get more opinions. You aren’t just checking a box, you have a voice for a new and innovative addition to the city of Atlanta.

On October 17, we held a meeting about a new program, Buckhead REdeFINED, which was created to get everyone in Buckhead involved in its new plans for the future. While we had a great turnout, I personally would like to see a more diverse group be engaged in the development of projects, like the Park Over GA400. Parks are for people of all ages and by hearing from all generations, we can ensure this iconic addition to our area will accommodate everyone.

If you would like to learn more about the park or other projects in the Buckhead area, attend the second Buckhead REdeFINED meeting on Jan. 19, 2017 from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Atlanta International School. This meeting will help you better understand projects in Buckhead, including the park, and give you an opportunity to speak-up and get involved with these projects. For more information on Buckhead REdeFINED, visit www.buckheadredefined.com

Don’t forget to take the Park Over GA400 SURVEY! Click to take the Park Over GA400 Survey

Peachtree Road Transformation Project – What’s Next?

The Peachtree Road transformation was one of BCID’s first road improvement projects. I first referred to it as a “sewer for cars,” when it was only accessible for cars and not cyclists or pedestrians.

Since 2007, we have transformed this street into a complete street in two phases by adding granite curbing and medians, hardwood trees, seasonal color landscaping, bike lanes, wide sidewalks, modern lighting, buried utilities, street furniture and dedicated left turn lanes at signaled intersections.

Phase I: Runs from GA 400 to one block south of Piedmont Road at Maple Drive and was completed in 2007.

Phase II: Runs from GA 400 to the intersection of Roxboro Road and Peachtree Road and was completed in 2012.   

So what’s NEXT?

Over the past year we have been working on phases three and four of Peachtree Road’s streetscape project.

Phase III: The Peachtree Road Phase Three streetscape project will include sidewalk improvements, bike lanes, a landscaped median, pavement resurfacing, traffic signal upgrades, decorative lighting and street trees from Maple Drive to Shadowlawn Avenue. The project is currently in the right-of-way acquisition phase, with construction scheduled to begin in summer 2017. The project is being federally funded, with matching funding being provided by the BCID and the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank, and will be managed by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). However, the BCID will play a role in project oversight to ensure successfull project delivery.

Phase IV: The Peachtree Road Phase Four streetscape project will be implemented in two sub-phases:

  • Pavement Resurfacing: The resurfacing project will include lane reconfiguration to accommodate two northbound lanes, three southbound lanes and a center turn lane from Shadowlawn Avenue to Sheridan Drive (the BCID boundary.) The resurfacing project is scheduled to begin the first quarter of 2017. This project will be funded locally by the BCID.
  • Streetscape project: The scope will include sidewalk improvements, traffic signal upgrades, decorative lighting and street trees from Shadowlawn Avenue to Sheridan Drive, and the plans and project schedule are currently being developed. This project will likely have funding participation from state or federal sources.

Keep coming back to our blog to see more updates on phases III and IV.

 

Innovative Designs Unveiled – Could Transform Buckhead

Creating a park out of thin air took one step closer to becoming a reality when on Sep. 7, 2016 the BCID presented the phase I vision and design plans at The Buckhead Theatre for the Park Over GA400. Robert M. Rogers, FAIA with ROGERS PARTNERS Architects+Urban Designers and Thomas Woltz with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects presented the plans, which included their inspiration as well as a review of other projects that have set a precedent on the benefits of a world class urban space.

BCID chairman, David Allman kicked off the presentation with an overview of how the idea for a park over GA400 came to be, and explained that cities all over the world are creating urban spaces to be more innovative, competitive and connected.

Rogers said that now that the concept designs are complete, the next steps are to look at the bigger picture, the criteria needed for the park, the cost of the construction and upkeep, and to see how to structure public outreach and conversation in the community about the development of the park.

The design for the Park Over GA400 would stretch nearly half a mile long and have three distinct zones of programming: The Commons, the Plaza and the Gardens. The Commons would connect to PATH400 via a distinctive bridge over Lenox Road, and feature a significant green gathering space. The Plaza, more of a hardscape would leverage the existing MARTA bridge infrastructure, and link pedestrian routes to both the east and west. The Gardens would feature new Peachtree MARTA entrances, include an iconic span over Peachtree Road and provide a lush horticultural experience. The park’s infrastructure would also include curved steel bridges and freeway noise mitigation to block the sound of GA400 traffic rolling through underneath.

The park’s landscaping would feature native Georgia plants and create both expansive and intimate experiences. One landscape design feature would be an allée of high-canopied trees running the length of the park, which would provide shade and wildlife habitat from Lenox Road to Peachtree Road.

A decision to move forward with refinement of the design, the costs, and the governance and funding models will likely be made at BCID’s board meeting on October 5.

Hopefully you have seen and heard about the plans.  For more information on the team, click here.

If you haven’t seen all the buzz, please click the links below.

 

Now it’s time to start a conversation. Please comment on our Facebook page or tweet us on Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Let’s Play at Chastain Park

Often times we get caught up talking about traffic roundabouts, curb cuts and how best to improve the commute in Buckhead, but as a result, we don’t always take time to stop and smell the roses. This post is about the importance of greenspace and playing.

Do you remember how you felt sliding down a slide, climbing around a treehouse and swinging as high as you could on your favorite swing?  Those were carefree days, where perhaps your imagination ran wild; and therein lies the importance of taking breaks and even playing outside.

Did you know that Chastain Park Playground was crumbling until the Chastain Park Conservancy, with the guidance of Jay Smith and Cynthia Gentry of Play Atlanta, stepped in to resurrect it? Chastain Park Playground occupies 40,000 square feet and is spread out over six of the 268 acres of Chastain Park.  The playground recently received a $2.8 million renovation, thanks in large part to corporate donors and the City of Atlanta, and this playground, which is the only regional park in north Fulton County, serves approximately 80,000 kids who live within five miles of it.

Play Atlanta worked to re-design the park through the eyes and imaginations of the children who would use it. The company held “play days” asking for input through ideas and drawings, which were all presented to the Chastain Park Conservancy board. The side-by-side slides “built for racing” came from a boy who wanted to race his friends to the bottom. The large green swings were designed for kids of all ages to swing and simply hang out in nature.

Other unique features include a wheelchair-accessible tree house called Summer’s Tree House, which is the playground’s centerpiece.  Named after Cynthia Gentry’s stepdaughter who lost her battle with cancer at 16, Summer’s Tree House is surrounded by freshly planted trees, and will one day be part of the tree canopy providing all children and adults a place to relax and be close with nature.

The renovated playground also includes climbing walls and boulders, an outdoor piano and music station, a covered pavilion, restrooms and more. Click here to see some great photos!

Traditional playgrounds tend to clear-cut the play area and remove an important aspect of playgrounds – nature. Play Atlanta took a different approach and integrated the playground into the existing topography and natural surroundings, making the environment an extra toy to be enjoyed. Chastain Park Playground is greenspace that is alive, caters to kids of all ages and creates a real sense of community.  We’re proud to have this within close proximity to our Buckhead Community Improvement District.

Buckhead CID is responsible for many aspects of the district, including greenspace like Charlie Loudermilk Park. Greenspaces not only provide great environmental benefits as they clean the air, provide shade and absorb stormwater runoff, but they also have an enormous and positive impact on people. Greenspace has been associated with general overall good health, reduced stress and depression levels, increased physical activity, lower healthcare costs, and the ability to create a sense of community and connectivity.  In fact, the World Health Organization found the health savings from parks was an estimated $3.08 billion in the U.S., after evaluating the largest 85 cities in the country with a combined population of 57.2 million.

I challenge you to get out and play, enjoy nature, swing as high as you can, race down the slides, climb around a tree house, play an outside piano and soak up that carefree feeling children enjoy, if only for a moment. The park is inviting to kids of all ages, including those who are young at heart.

The park opened to the public with a ceremony on March 19, 2016.  Click here for more information, and let us know what you think!