Imagine a peaceful picnic atop 14 lanes of rush-hour traffic.

It could happen, if Central Atlanta Progress’s “The Stitch” concept becomes a reality.

The 14-acre park would cover the Downtown Connector from the Piedmont Avenue bridge north to the Spring Street flyover, an injection of park land that would, in effect, “knit” together spaces long divided by I-75/85 in Midtown and Downtown. Hence the name.

Walkable places are in high demand these days, so it’s of little surprise that the concept of a “deck park” – green space built over a roadway – has captured public imagination. The Stitch is one two major deck parks under consideration in metro Atlanta and is part of a national trend, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

Other projects in metro Atlanta include:

  • a nine-acre Buckhead park that would cover a portion of Ga. 400 (Check out the rendering below.)
  • Can we name it “Zombie Memorial” Park?
    In the category of “honorable mention,” the city of Atlanta announced plans last June for a small park on the Jackson Street bridge—the span whose city skyline view has been snapped by innumerable Instagram photographers, not to mention, oh yeah, The Walking Dead. (Not quite a deck park, but cool, right?)

All About Luring New Businesses, Young People

That’s what the Wall Street Journal reports, quoting Jennifer Ball of Central Atlanta Progress.

Jennifer Ball, who works with a business group promoting [The Stitch], said cities such as Atlanta that in the past neglected their urban centers need to make improvements to compete for tech jobs and millennials.

“The urban core just has to be attractive,” she said.

More information about The Stitch, including a slideshow of conceptual images, is available on Central Atlanta Progress’s website. More on the Buckhead park, including renderings, is available on Buckhead Community Improvement District’s site.

And although the deck park as a concept goes back a number of decades, this post-recession age has freed up dollars, prompting efforts among city planners and developers to move these parks from drawing board to reality.

A rendering of an aerial view of the Ga. 400 park at night
The Buckhead park over Ga. 400 would “serve as a much-needed community gathering space in an area that is currently severely lacking in public greenspace,” according to the Buckhead CID website.

Current Trend Popularized in Texas

The deck park trend was popularized, at least in part, by Klyde Warren Park in Dallas. Completed in 2012, the park’s 5.2 acres span a busy downtown freeway and feature spacious lawns, a whimsical playground, a stage for yoga classes, outdoor concerts and films, and dedicated space for food trucks.

The soaring success of the Dallas park demonstrated the feasibility of such projects and has inspired officials from across the country — including a delegation of metro Atlanta leaders who visited Klyde Warren during the 2016 LINK trip to Dallas.

The WSJ says Klyde Warren shows how cities can rewrite the geography that history wrote.

As the U.S. boomed in the last century, new highways divided many cities with noisy rivers of traffic. Neighborhood activists in some areas were able to stop highways or force small deck parks to be built over roadways. A portion of Manhattan’s FDR Drive is covered by a deck park, and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade was built over the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. But many poorer neighborhoods, often with large minority populations, lacked the political clout to stop or modify highway projects.

Read the full article here.

Read on:

“Where downtown Atlanta’s highway-capping Stitch would go, in photos” -Curbed Atlanta

“The Stitch is not the only project aiming to undo damage caused by interstates” -Atlanta Magazine

“City of Atlanta announces plans for a mini-park on the Jackson Street Bridge” -Atlanta Magazine

What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.