by Josh Green
Leaders behind the initiative to cover Buckhead’s Ga. Highway 400 commuter gulch with useful, scenic greenspaces and pathways hope Giving Tuesday will kickstart a new phase of financial support.
The nonprofit HUB404 Conservancy today launched a grassroots fundraising campaign called “Gimme Four” to help foot the bill for a project expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars one buck—or actually four bucks, at minimum—at a time.
Similar to highway-capping park endeavors currently raising funds in Midtown and downtown, HUB404 is expected to transform dead air space above the district’s busiest multi-lane vehicle corridor into greenspace. As conceived by the Buckhead Community Improvement District, HUB404 would be an “iconic” 9-acre park stretching for a half-mile, linked directly to a MARTA station and the growing PATH400 trail system.
The HUB404 Conservancy appointed seasoned fundraiser Anthony Rodriguez as its executive director in May, and under his leadership, the Gimme Four campaign is asking residents around Atlanta to contribute as little as $4.04 to help bring HUB404 to fruition.
Variable degrees of swag escalate with the amount of contributions: $4.04 (HUB404 sticker); $24.04 (HUB404 tote bag); $54.04 (HUB404 T-shirt); $104.04 HUB404 cap and tote… and so forth.
HUB404’s 15-member board has vowed to match all funds raised up to $50,000.
“HUB404 is for Atlanta. By Atlanta,” said Rodriguez in today’s announcement. “[It] will showcase the culture, art, and events that make Atlanta shine. We are limited only by our collective imagination, and we’re asking Atlanta to help make HUB404 a reality.”
Buckhead CID officials have said HUB404’s conceptual planning and surveying phases are complete.
The fundraising campaign launches as the project aims to begin engineering bridges over Lenox Road sometime in 2023.
That will be followed in 2024 by engineering work on HUB404’s major section from Lenox Road to Peachtree Road, officials said today.
Rodriguez, the HUB404 project’s first appointed leader, is the cofounder, president, and CEO of the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, the state’s second-largest nonprofit pro theater production company. A startup in the 1990s, that theater’s $45-million arts center opened last fall.
Ambitions to cap Ga. Highway 400 with greenspace date back to 2015, when a feasibility study received its first $10,000 from the Buckhead CID.
The HUB404 project had its strongest momentum following a fundraising and publicity push in late 2019, but as COVID-19 locked down society, the HUB404 dream stalled the following year. The goal had originally been to engineer, construct, and fully open HUB404 by 2025.
By January this year, however, the HUB404 Conservancy had resumed private fundraising efforts and pursuit of federal grants. The revised goal is to be under construction on HUB404 by 2025, should fundraising efforts pan out.
HUB404’s features would include a grand plaza, cafes, an amphitheater, and paved walking and bike trails. Connections to the PATH400 greenway (and by extension, the BeltLine), Peachtree Road, and MARTA’s Buckhead rail station would also be built. 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.
Early, pre-inflation cost estimates for HUB404 hovered around $200 million.
Prior to the pandemic, 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.