The big idea for capping Ga. Highway 400's commuter gulch with greenspace in Buckhead dates way back to early 2015, when a baby-steps feasibility study received its first $10,000 from the Buckhead Community Improvement District.
Come seven years of hype and change, a global pandemic, a year of Buckhead City secessionist threats/promises, and pretty much hell and high water too, the highway-capping park initiative has gone quiet but is hardly DOA.
As head of Buckhead Coalition and Buckhead CID, Jim Durrett has been the HUB404 park project’s spearhead since its most nascent phases. Durrett tells Urbanize Atlanta this week that Buckhead CID has applied for a federal grant to conduct the engineering and final designs of HUB404—crucial steps for moving the project forward.
“We expect to hear by early February whether we were successful or not,” Durrett wrote via email.
HUB404, still considered one of the country’s most ambitious greenspace initiatives, would be a 9-acre, tree-shaded gathering place atop the expressway, spanning a half-mile.
Features would include a grand plaza, cafes, an amphitheater, paved walking and bike trails, and connections to the PATH400 greenway (and by extension, the BeltLine), Peachtree Road, and MARTA’s Buckhead rail station. Cost estimates have hovered around $200 million or more.
The project seemed to have its greatest momentum following a fundraising and publicity push in late 2019, but as COVID-19 locked down the world, Durrett said the HUB404 dream had all but gone into “hibernation” the following year. The goal had been to engineer, construct, and fully open HUB404 by 2025.
Nonetheless, Durrett said this week, the nonprofit HUB404 Conservancy Board has continued to raise funds from the private sector “and hopes to be in a position to conduct a search for an executive director in 2022.”
Another bright spot, as Durrett pointed out, is that design and engineering work on the third phase of the Lenox Road Complete Street project is expected to begin in February. That will include an elevated pedestrian bridge over Lenox Road’s Ga. Highway 400 interchange that would also provide future access to HUB404, for anyone coming from the north.
“Our aspiration is to be under construction [on HUB404], if all goes well with fundraising, by 2025,” said Durrett.
Project backers have called HUB404 the country’s first transit-oriented park and an urban “crown jewel,” affording Buckhead its own version of Dallas’ celebrated, highway-topping Klyde Warren Park, but at almost twice the size.
Prior to pandemic lockdowns, a $600,000 Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank grant helped Buckhead CID gather necessary data related to topography, utilities, and property boundaries.
HUB404 leaders have long said funding to foot the engineering and construction costs would come from a mix of private and public funds. That would include a variety of local and state—and now, they hope, federal—sources.
— Urbanize Atlanta contributor Evan Maag contributed to this report
• If all of Atlanta's road-capping park dreams happen, it would look like this (Urbanize Atlanta)