Atlanta buries cars to turn parking lot into green infrastructure and community gateway

On April 25, 2017. Atlanta, Georgia Mayor Kasim Reed unveiled plans for the $48 million Grant Park Gateway Project, a new underground parking and mobility facility which will be located at the site of the existing eight-acre surface parking lot, adjacent to Zoo Atlanta.

Restaurant and park on top of parking garage.

The new amenity will feature a park on the roof of the facility with green infrastructure elements and a restaurant highlighting regional cuisine, while providing approximately 1,000 parking spaces.

Mayor Reed presented the plans along with Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Amy Phuong, Atlanta City Councilmember Carla Smith, Zoo Atlanta President Raymond King, Atlanta History Center Board Chair Ernest Greer, Grant Park Conservancy Executive Director Michelle Blackmon, State Representative David Dreyer, the Grant Park Neighborhood Association, and the Winter Johnson Group, which produced the artist’s renderings that were presented to the public.

The Grant Park Gateway will be the first facility of its kind in the City of Atlanta, and earned its name because it provides an entirely new way of looking at the entrance to the community,” said Mayor Reed. “The design benefits the Grant Park neighborhood and respects its history as Atlanta’s oldest park, while addressing parking demands, reducing traffic congestion and improving the overall safety in the area.

Other proposed features for the future LEED-certified facility includes planted vegetation which will reduce storm water run-off and improve air quality; an intelligent parking system aimed at helping guide patrons find vacant spots; and state-of-the-art surveillance cameras to promote safety. The Department of Parks and Recreation will host community meetings in the upcoming months to solicit additional ideas and concerns from residents as they move forward with the planning of the project.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is excited about this project, which speaks volumes about how innovative the City of Atlanta has become with developing greenspace expansion, watershed management and mobility solutions,” said Amy Phuong, Commissioner of the department. “We will continue to actively engage with the Grant Park Conservancy, the Grant Park Neighborhood Association and community members to create a parking facility and greenspace that will serve as a source of pride for the greater community for years to come.

Parking lot as it looks today. Image via Google Maps.

In 2015, the City of Atlanta conducted a mobility feasibility study to understand the current and future traffic and parking demands for Grant Park and Zoo Atlanta. The City also performed a geotechnical study to determine the feasibility of the current Boulevard surface lot as a proposed mobility and parking solution. Working with key stakeholders and community leaders, the Department of Parks and Recreation gathered input for a parking solution that would help reduce traffic congestion in the neighborhood, improve safety and eliminate illegal parking on grassed areas. During the two-year planning process, community leaders requested the parking solution to include amenities to enhance the park, the neighborhood and Zoo Atlanta. Chief of Staff Candace Byrd, Commissioner Phuong and Councilmember Smith also led two delegations to Dallas, Texas to learn best practices for mobility and parking.

The overall project will complement the Zoo’s “Grand New View” project which aims to repurpose the former Cyclorama building to a multi-use, special events facility and expand their entry plaza to the Boulevard entrance.

Today’s announcement is a win for everybody involved,” said Councilmember Carla Smith, whose district includes Grant Park, during the presentation. “I have worked closely with the Administration, residents in the neighborhood, the Grant Park Conservancy, the Grant Park Neighborhood Association and our partners at Zoo Atlanta on this new Gateway to Grant Park. The underground parking and mobility solution will replace seven acres of asphalt with new, usable greenspace, convenient parking for residents and visitors to the park and Zoo Atlanta and new amenities. Grant Park is a jewel in the city and this new facility will make it even better.

The City of Atlanta will fund the project through a revenue bond and supplement it with additional sources, including the Department of Parks and Recreation’s park improvement funds. The Department of Parks and Recreation awarded the Grant Park Gateway Project to the Winter Johnson Group, and will issue the restaurant request for proposal in the upcoming months. The project is slated to be complete late 2018.

The Reed Administration set a goal to ensure that every resident in the City of Atlanta lives within walking distance to public greenspace or a park. Since 2014, the Department of Parks and Recreation has acquired an additional 171 acres of land, including 14 new parks, increasing the percentage of Atlanta residents living within a half-mile walk of a park from 50 percent to 64 percent.

Renderings courtesy of the Winter Johnson Group.

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