“HUB404,” the concept of a half-mile-long park capping Ga. 400 in central Buckhead, is moving ahead after years on the back burner.
The nonprofit HUB404 Conservancy has hired its first executive director, who just began work leading the estimated $270 million fundraising for the mega-project. And public meetings are expected to resume next year.
The notion of the park has been advocated for years by Jim Durrett, who leads the Buckhead Coalition and the Buckhead Community Improvement District, as well as sitting on the MARTA Board of Directors. The concept is a 9-acre platform capping the highway between Peachtree and Lenox roads atop — and plugging into — the Buckhead MARTA Station.
Preliminary designs are for a curving structure with a variety of green spaces, plazas and other amenities that would host public events. Named for the 404 area code, the park is intended as a regional attraction.
Early fundraising efforts stalled in 2020 with the pandemic and the loss of the Conservancy’s board chair. New interim board chair Court Thomas of Atlanta Property Group is now filling that role. And the Conservancy has raised enough money to hire an executive director — Anthony Rodriguez, co-founder of the Aurora Theatre, the anchor of Gwinnett County’s Lawrenceville Arts Center. Raised in neighboring Brookhaven, he knows the Buckhead area well.
Rodriguez started work in a transitional phase June 1 and will go full-time Aug. 1. He is tasked with raising $100 million in private funds while the CID seeks $170 million in public money.
With movement underway once again, Buckhead.com checked in with Durrett for a review of the concept and what comes next. For more details, see the park website at hub404.org.
Part of the vision is for the park to serve as a regional attraction. Why is that an important part of the plan for Buckhead?
Because HUB404 and MARTA’s Buckhead Station are to be seamlessly integrated, anybody with access to MARTA, whether they are in College Park, Decatur, Sandy Springs or West End will be able to easily get to the park and take advantage of any programming that is being offered. This is to be a park for Atlanta, and not just for Buckhead, with a world-class design and activities developed with the larger community in mind, to become a regional destination.
Buckhead’s commercial core has become a major residential neighborhood in recent years. How much has that affected or changed this plan?
The park is being developed as a regional amenity that will also serve a more local constituency. As residential density is increased in Buckhead’s core, the need for a quality community gathering place has only increased. The existing residential population will be among an extensive list of stakeholders to be engaged in the design process.
While the park would be atop a MARTA station, presumably a lot of people would still drive to events. Is there a concept yet for how parking would be handled?
HUB404 will be directly connected to PATH400 [a multiuse trail] and MARTA’s rail system, making it a truly multi-modal destination. People will be encouraged to take MARTA transit, to walk, and to bike to get to HUB404, but undoubtedly some people will arrive by automobile. Our analysis of existing parking capacity proximal to HUB404 indicates more than adequate opportunities for those arriving by automobile.
What do you expect the next public step to be in the planning process?
The next opportunity for the public to be engaged in the refinement of the design will be coincident with the engineering and final design work that should be underway in 2023.