HUB404 fund raising moves forward amid stiff competition

The HUB404 Conservancy made several moves in 2022 to get the 9-acre greenspace project closer to breaking ground, and the project is steaming into 2023 with new federal funding. 

Hiring Executive Director Anthony Rodriguez in May of 2022 was a sign that the HUB404 Conservancy is working hard to push the project beyond the planning stages. Rodriguez cofounded the Aurora Theater in Lawerenceville, and currently serves as the president and CEO. His experience running the state’s second largest nonprofit theater company will certainly be an asset to the HUB404 project. 

The “Gimmie Four” campaign was announced by HUB404 Conservancy Executive Director Anthony Rodriguez on November 29. This new initiative encourages donations as small as $4.04 in exchange for HUB404 swag. The 15-member board of the non-profit HUB404 Conservancy has pledged to match donated funds up to $50,000.

The federal spending bill that President Biden signed into law in December 2022 includes $750,000 for HUB404. Congresswoman Nikema Williams requested funds for the HUB404 project be included in the HUD spending bill, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced its appropriations bill allotting funds for this award-winning project in the final measure. Executive Director Rodriguez praised Congresswoman Williams, “for her commitment to this community and this project,” and added, “Federal funding is a big step forward for HUB404 and will provide incredible momentum for our work to create a world-class, community-driven greenspace showcasing the best of Atlanta.”

Plans for a park over Ga 400 between Lenox Road and Peachtree Road have been percolating since 2015, when the Buckhead CID contributed $10,000 for a feasibility study of the project. The project was gaining traction and donations until the COVID-19 pandemic stalled HUB404 (and many other projects worldwide) in 2020. If fundraising goes as planned, HUB404 hopes to begin the initial engineering stages over Lenox Road sometime in 2023.

Park Projects Seek Public Funds

Funding for HUB404 will come from private and public funds, including $170 million in public funding. Competition for federal and state funds is generally fierce among citywide projects. In this case there are two other projects in the city with very similar goals. The other two proposals, the Midtown Connector in midtown and the Stitch downtown, could benefit from federal funds that HUB404 wouldn’t qualify for.

Unrelated to the $750,00 pledged for the HUB404 project, the  AJC reported earlier this year that President Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $20 billion to “reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments (in infrastructure).” Highway construction in downtown and midtown Atlanta in the 1950’s and 60’s leveled homes and businesses, and severed intown communities. The Midtown Connector project and the Stitch both seek to reconnect streets and neighborhoods that were cut by the construction of I-75/I-85. A fact that makes them prime candidates for this specific infrastructure investment.

Midtown Connector project

The Midtown Connector is an ambitious project to build a 25-acre park over I-75/I-85 between North Avenue and 10th Street. In addition to parks, pedestrian walkways, and an amphitheater, the Midtown Connector would reconnect streets that were severed by the construction of the interstate through the city. The project has secured $100 million in private funding as of September 2022, and sources say initial construction could begin in 2023.

Rendering of the Midtown Connector. Courtesy of the MCP Foundation

The Stitch

Just down the highway from the Midtown Connector is the proposed location of the Stitch. This 14-acre project has a lot in common with the two aforementioned parks. The Stitch would cover 3/4 mile of I-75/I-85 between the Civic Center MARTA station and just east of Piedmont Road. The park aims to reconnect downtown and Midtown, and provide green space, plazas, and paved pedestrian trails. The project has recently secured a $900,000 federal grant and garnered the attention of Georgia’s representatives and senators, but there is currently no timeline for construction.

This post was updated January 2023

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