Why Buckhead has the least green space in all of Atlanta and what’s being done about it

By on July 12, 2011

peachtree boulevard transformation ~ what now atlanta

Commercial Real Estate Expert discusses what it’ll take to make Buckhead a greener, more pedestrian friendly place.

Ever get a bird’s eye view of Atlanta? — Our city is truly amazing because, unlike many cities that are concrete jungles, trees stretch for miles and compliment the Atlanta skyline.

However, with the exception of a few small pockets  (and of course Piedmont Park, which has truly flourished into an amazing attraction), Atlanta lacks any real park or central gathering spaces.

City of Atlanta’s Project Greenspace identified Buckhead’s District 7 as the lowest “parked” in the entire city.  And why Buckhead is lacking in greener, pedestrian friendly areas is a catch 22:  space costs money and parks don’t generate any.

Livable Buckhead, a new nonprofit initiative, hopes to changes this alongside the Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID).

Originally, the Buckhead CID had plans for the Lenox parking lot (facing Peachtree) to be converted into a beautiful park space with benches, fountains, flower beds, etc. Had those plans been seen through, it would have created  a common green space for community gatherings, small concerts, lunches, or just a daily stroll as well as  a bridge between community and commercial space.

Somewhere to walk the dogs, take the family on a picnic, toss the football or just relax under the sun in the heart of a bustling community is what Buckhead lacks (Other than Chastain Park, which is more of a small park tacked onto a walking trail around the golf course).

The Buckhead CID has completed Phase I of the Peachtree Boulevard Transformation and Phase II is underway.

The end result will be a continuation of improvement to the Buckhead/Peachtree corridor to reduce traffic congestion, add medians with flourishing trees and flowers as well as widen the sidewalks (add trees, flowers and benches) to create a more pedestrian friendly walking environment.

Similar to other projects, the Buckhead CID has been slowed by the recession– their objectives still remain ambitious and hopefully their 10-year plan will be implemented.

I visited the $3 million renovated Morgan Falls Park in Sandy Springs recently and while not huge in size (and located outside the high-rise skyscrapers of the city), it reflects everything a park should represent and can hopefully be created one day in Buckhead: picnic tables, grills, creatively landscaped areas, a playground, water, porch swings with turf under them so that mud does not build up and two outdoor fireplaces.  It’s a wonderful secret and a beautiful park.

Yes, the core of Buckhead doesn’t have the benefit of being on the Chattahoochee or even in line with creeks, but even without the water, a properly designed park or multiple small green spaces along the corridor would do wonders for the area and the community.

Hopefully with the Buckhead CID and the numerous other green initiative formats focusing on Buckhead, a greener Atlanta can be created.

What are some of your other favorite parks in Atlanta? What are your thoughts on Buckhead and how it can be more green and pedestrian friendly? Where would you like to see these parks built?

About Shaun Weinstock

Intown residents Shaun Weinstock and Dotan Zuckerman are innovative Real Estate professionals with nearly 20 years of combined experience in helping retail and office clients align their real estate with their objectives. To learn more, visit www.weinstockrd.com or email our expert: [email protected]

12 Comments

  1. Mark

    July 13, 2011 at 1:37 am

    So, other than that proposed PATH trail that would connect to the Atlanta Beltline, what (if anything) has been explicitly planned yet? Are there ideas being floated around? I am very interested to see what happens, as this is very important for the area of town. I would love to see some public parks, but also some sort of public non-park space that would help to set buckhead apart.

  2. Inman Parker

    July 13, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Parks would help, but buckhead is lighyears away from being pedestrian friendly. That neighborhood is an example of some of the worst development in the southeast. Honestly, I wish that all of those buildings were in the midtown/downtown area instead of around a shopping mall.

  3. JonC

    July 13, 2011 at 9:41 am

    The park in front of Lenox would have been great. I saw plans recently for breaking up the Tower Place superblock to make it more pedestrian friendly and gridded, so that would help. Unfortunately that area is the result of 1980s/1990s Atlanta development where everything was fine and dandy as long as you planted some nice landscaping. Blank walls, exposed parking decks, minimal sidewalks, it’s a mess.

  4. Urbanist

    July 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

    I think the city needs to be careful about adding too much green space. Don’t get me wrong, green space is great for cities, but it has to be green space that adds value to a neighborhood, not just green space for the sake of being green space.

    Piedmont Park is such a successful park because there’s a great mix of residential and commercial uses on all sides, and there’s a relatively dense population in the surrounding areas. Parks that don’t have the appropriate residential density wind up being rarely used, or used during only a couple peak hours of the day, and then turn into hotbeds for crime and waste at all other hours of the day.

    A park at Lenox, in lieu of the parking lot would be a bad decision. Peachtree street-front space, at that corner, would be an excellent place for commercial, residential, or mixed development. There could conceivably be street-front development along Lenox and Peachtree, in place of the current parking lot, with a park behind the development.

    The other thing to remember is that parks don’t have to be huge. Some of the best parks are very small in scope, and are just well designed.

  5. Darin

    July 13, 2011 at 10:19 am

    That’s a good point about the location of greenspace needing to be near a dense population for good use, Urbanist. It makes me think about the beautiful Atlanta Memorial Park in SW Buckhead that my family’s visited a few times. It’s a decent-sized space that doesn’t get the use it deserves because it’s located in the middle of a detached-home, affluent, purely-residential area — among residents who would most likely rather just enjoy the greenspace in their own impressive yards.

    Greenspace like that is what I think of as a ‘backyard amenity’ for affluent owners of detached homes. Buckhead needs more well-placed greenspace in an area that’s easily accessible (and not just by car) by a significant number residents and visitors.

  6. babs

    July 13, 2011 at 11:07 am

    So many Buckhead residents have private yards so they don’t think about the community at large. Many apartment and condo dwellers could benefit from greenspace. Plus it’s HOT, people! Trees cool the earth and make our commercial corridors more attractive and safer for pedestrians. A tree can act as an effective guardrail from street traffic.

    I’d love to see the front of Lenox turned into a park. It makes sense that nearby hotels and residential high rises would use this space on a daily basis and that Lenox would be able to host local arts festivals and holiday events on green grass instead of hot pavement. Great idea!

  7. J

    July 13, 2011 at 11:28 am

    The assertion that parks cost money but don’t generate any is wrong. A good park, properly planned, located and maintained, can generate significant revenue for surrounding businesses and increase tax revenue by increasing surrounding property values. Do you think an address on Central Park West is worth more today than it would be if Central Park was replaced by block after block of residental buildings?

  8. John

    July 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

    I havn’t used my bike since I lived here because there are no bike trails. I got spoiled living in DC and Chicago, which have the beautiful Mount Vernon and Chicago Lakefront trails, but both of those are along waterways. How about a bike/hiking trail along Peachtree Creek? The park land is already there for the most part.

  9. NomNomNomATL

    July 13, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Some jagoff AJC’er (Ernie Suggs I think) wrote this same article a couple of months back and didn’t happen to realize that Buckhead has some of the biggest parks in Atlanta! Chastain and Atlanta Memorial are every bit as big as Piedmont Park (if you include the golf courses). There is a park everywhere you turn in Buckhead – Tanyard Creek, ATL Memorial, P’tree Hills, Admore, Dale Way, Frankie Allen, Shady Valley, Garden Hills, Sprinklake, P’tree Battle, Sibley, Alexander, Sunnybrook, Pharr Circle, Emma Lane, and Blue Heron. There just isn’t a park in the Buckhead CBD. Big effin deal. I am definnitly not shedding a tear for the rich in Atlanta not having enough parks.

    Buckhead is NOT pedestrian friendly. Never will be. Buckhead is about wealth. Wealth people don’t walk, especially in Atlanta summers. How can you show your wealth without driving your Land Rover, Porche or Audi R8 (I’m looking at you license plate “Duke02″?

  10. Inman Parker

    July 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    John,

    not sure what part of town you’re in but silver comet and stone mountain trails are decent for cycling.

  11. John

    July 14, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Inman, I live in South Buckhead, nowhere near a bike/hiking trail. I’ll drive down to Piedmont Park and take a walk there, but it is hardly cycling friendly. Silver Comet and Stone Mt are not convenient at all to get to. Hoping for a dedicated biking/hiking only trail in the Buckhead area in the next few years

  12. Tim

    July 27, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    @John (and others) – should be coming soon, if you weren’t already aware:

    http://livablebuckhead.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Executive-Summary-Document_Rev052511.pdf

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