The Brookhaven City Council approved April 23 spending $1.5 million to purchase an approximate 1.5 acre parcel on Buford Highway as part of a long-term plan to build a bridge over I-85. The bridge is part of a regional strategic plan to provide access to Executive Park and the new Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta medical campus, according to city officials.
The flyover bridge would also help alleviate traffic on North Druid Hills Road, according to the city.
The parcel is located at 2751 Buford Highway, where the Druid Pointe office building now stands. In November, the city entered into a contract to purchase the property located at the southern section of the office complex where an unused parking lot now sits.
The $1.5 million to pay for the land is coming from the $10 million CHOA paid to the city for 6.27 acres of right of ways within the hospital campus for Tullie Road and Tullie Circle. The city has been using this money for acquiring the private land for the Peachtree Creek Greenway. The city has said it has spent $9.3 million of that $10 million.
The city has been in discussion with the Georgia Department of Transportation for approximately 18 months on the desire to have a bridge built from the city’s new Buford Highway property over I-85 and into Executive Park, according to City Manager Christian Sigman.
Emory University purchased 60 acres of Executive Park in 2016 with plans for major redevelopment, but has not publicly revealed what it wants to build there. Executive Park is currently zoned for mixed-use, including office, residential and a hotel.
Across the street from Executive Park is the approximate 70-acre Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta campus where two office support buildings are now under construction. Construction of a new $1.3 billion hospital is slated to start in 2020.
“This is a huge strategic move for the region, not just for Brookhaven,” Sigman said in an interview after the City Council meeting.
GDOT would have to approve the bridge, Sigman said, but the city’s purchase of the right-of-way gives the plan a better edge over other capital projects. No timeline has been set, but the traffic anticipated as part of the new CHOA and Emory developments also give such a project a sense of urgency.
“This is a long-term plan … that is extremely significant as to how it impacts traffic,” Councilmember Joe Gebbia said.
Sigman said the bridge is a public safety issue because there is currently only the one bridge at the I-85 and North Druid Hills Road interchange connecting to southern Brookhaven. Another bridge would provide a “relief valve” for some of that traffic that currently clogs the interchange, he said.
The bridge would be four lanes, 80 feet wide, and have sidewalks on either side, he said.
The basic idea is to start the bridge in the vacant parking lot, cross the the interstate and drop it into Executive Park.
Sigman said the new bridge would catalyze redevelopment along the southern portion of Buford Highway as well, making the property valuable for new development and redevelopment of current properties. Across the street from Druid Pointe and a bit south is the Latin American Association and two small apartment complexes. Office buildings make up most of the area in the surrounding area.
This story has been corrected to state the city is spending a total of $1.5 million for one piece of property. An earlier version incorrectly stated the city purchased another piece of property in November. The story is also updated with where the money is coming from to pay for the property.