Buckhead master plan aims to please millennials

A meeting attendee sticker-votes on programming options for the potential park over Ga. 400 at the Oct. 17 Buckhead master plan meeting at Atlanta International School.
A meeting attendee sticker-votes on programming options for the potential park over Ga. 400 at the Oct. 17 Buckhead master plan meeting at Atlanta International School.

By John Ruch

Buckhead’s new master plan will aim to please well-off millennials with better public spaces, transportation and housing, organizers said at an Oct. 17 kickoff meeting at the Atlanta International School.

Branded as “BUCKHEAD REdeFINED,” the planning process for Buckhead’s commercial core drew about 90 people to hear market statistics and weigh in with improvement ideas. The process also folds in previous independent plans to improve the Lenox Road streetscape and for a possible park capping Ga. 400 between Lenox and Peachtree Roads.

“We want to point out a little bit of the obvious—Buckhead is a district in transition,” said Eric Bosman of Kimley-Horn, the company contracted by several civic and business groups to conduct the master plan.

Part of that transition is from a car-oriented shopping area to a home for apartment-dwelling, high-income millennials—a demographic Buckhead leaders want to retain and attract. In marketing-speak, that demographic is called “Uptown Individuals,” explained market analyst Geoff Koski of Bleakly Advisory Group.

Budgeted at about $200,000, including Atlanta Regional Commission grant funding, the six-month master plan effort applies roughly to Buckhead Village, Buckhead Forest, Lenox and Peachtree Park. The rough boundaries are Old Ivy Road to the north, Peachtree-Dunwoody/Roxboro roads to the west, Garden Hills to the south, and the Atlanta History Center area to the east.

The plan is coordinated by Livable Buckhead, the Buckhead Community Improvement District, the Buckhead Business Association, the Buckhead Coalition and the Rotary Club of Buckhead. There’s also a steering committee with more than 40 community members and a technical advisory committee with representatives from the city, MARTA and the state Department of Transportation.

The planning teams for the Lenox Road and park over 400 efforts are also involved and will get direct public input data. “So we’ve got quite the brain trust,” said Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling.

BUCKHEAD REdeFINED is a reboot of an existing master plan, the Buckhead Action Plan, which wrapped up in 2002. The earlier plan was focused on rezoning and development. One of its major goals, Bosman said, was clearing Buckhead Village of its nightclubs and redeveloping that section into what is “Shops Buckhead Atlanta” luxury shopping center.

The park over 400 display let people sticker-vote on a wide variety of possible programming options. The presentation did not address the CID’s internal controversy about whether the park is a good idea. But the display also let people vote on the essential source of conflict: potential funding sources.

While much of the meeting’s talk was about millennials, most of the crowd was older. But planners will solicit more input through surveys on a master plan website, which also will contain draft ideas in advance of the next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 19. Planners also will survey people on Buckhead streets.
“We’re going to hang out at Lenox Mall. We’re going to hang out on Peachtree Road,” said Bosman.
For more information, see buckheadredefined.com.

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