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Redefining and Refining Buckhead

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This is a guest post from Eric Bosman, AICP Associate and Buckhead REdeFINED Project Manager – Kimley-Horn

 

Cities are like living organisms–constantly changing, simultaneously growing and decaying and ever-evolving. Buckhead’s evolution experienced a significant shift in 2001 with the creation of The Buckhead Action Plan. Sponsored by the Buckhead CID and the Atlanta Regional Commission, the community planning effort called upon commercial and residential stakeholders to identify common goals and prepare a collective plan for the district.

The action plan helped lay the groundwork for the reshaping of the Peachtree Road corridor, establishment of the BUC circulator shuttle, two new regulatory zoning codes (Buckhead Village and Buckhead Core), redevelopment of the Buckhead Village and investments in parks, sidewalks, roadways and trails.

This year, Buckhead’s next generation of leaders assembled to build on 15 years of success and create a new plan to further enhance Buckhead’s vitality, mobility and livability. Titled Buckhead REdeFINED, the updated plan is shaped by a sharpened understanding of who lives and works in the District. Since 2001, more than 8,300 multifamily residences were added within the Buckhead CID and job growth experienced an even more robust surge with more than 10,000 jobs added since 2012. In addition to employment growth outpacing housing, 98 percent of Buckhead-area workers live outside the district and commute into Buckhead daily.

With the district’s limited road network and single point of access to GA 400 and Atlanta’s highway system, there is little wonder why traffic at peak hours is insufferable. And while area organizations and city and regional leaders can continue to adjust and modify existing roads and intersections, there is little likelihood of new roadways due to the potential impact to single-family neighborhoods.

Buckhead REdeFINED outlines a strategic and comprehensive approach to manage and support the district’s continued growth and evolution into a dynamic, accessible and livable urban environment. The plan’s recommendations are rooted in three guiding strategies:

  • VITALITY strategies focus on increasing green space and public space, activating Buckhead’s pedestrian corridors to make the district more lively and walkable, and implementing a public art program that builds upon Buckhead’s history and enhances the district’s sense of place.
  • MOBILITY strategies seek to address key roadway corridors and intersections, expand the district’s bicycle-pedestrian network—particularly east-west connections to PATH400, enhance connectivity and access to area transit stations and services, and create a program to match Buckhead employees and Buckhead residences to reduce the percentage of workers commuting into and out of the district by automobile.
  • LIVABILITY strategies address and incorporate practices to improve the district’s affordability, public safety and sustainability.

The potential to refine Buckhead into a more complete, livable urban environment is captured in the plan’s Six Big Ideas:

  • Develop a district-wide multiuse trail to connect and celebrate the area’s history and culture
  • Activate and enliven a continuous network of streets and destinations
  • Enhance mobility to and from GA 400 and beyond
  • Foster a distinctive Buckhead identity along Lenox Road
  • Diversify housing opportunities within the district
  • Define the civic heart of the community through enhanced parks and greenspace

As our city continues to grow and evolve, we have the ability and a responsibility to balance the needs and impacts of our complex transportation, economic, development and community-building systems.  While it has not been easy, area leaders have done just that by redefining the path to a more prosperous, livable Buckhead.