Theatergoers in Metro Atlanta will be familiar with Anthony Rodriguez, the co-founder and producing artistic director for Lawrenceville’s popular Aurora Theater. But the next “act” in his career is about building a new type of gathering spot.
Rodriguez took over as Executive Director of HUB404 in June of this year, where he is leading the charge to create one of three Atlanta cap parks — or greenspace over highways – under consideration.
It’s a different type of artistic role for Rodriguez, who grew up in Buckhead and graduated from Marist High School before studying theater at UGA.
He sees this new position as an opportunity to “change the face of Atlanta forever” and ultimately shape where businesses want to set up shop.
Rodriguez has a specific vision for how HUB404 could transform the Buckhead business and residential communities. Cities like Boston, Seattle, and Dallas have used cap parks as a way to beautify and restructure the core of urban business districts.
HUB404 is designed to start at the Atlanta Financial Center on Peachtree Road and extend over the Buckhead Marta Station, Georgia 400, and Lenox Road.
The nine and a half mile park is set to add greenspace that is hard to come by around Buckhead businesses. But it is also set to serve as a connecting point for the PATH400 and the Beltline, two popular pedestrian arteries connecting various Atlanta neighborhoods.
“But at its heart, it is a gathering place,” Rodriguez added. “That might be the workforce community during the week and the residents on the weekends. And because it’s linked to the Buckhead Marta station, it’s also a place where everyone can come.”
The first phase of construction, a pedestrian bridge over Lenox Road, is set to break ground in 2024 with the goal of completing the entire project by 2030.
How Will This Impact Innovation In The City?
On top of HUB404, Atlanta has two other proposed cap parks as of 2022. The Stitch, spearheaded by Central Atlanta Progress, is reconnecting Midtown and Downtown Atlanta while the Midtown Connector Project is looking to bring a 17-acre park over the 75/85 highways.
While the projects are not connected, Rodriguez believes all of them can help reshape the urban core of Atlanta, adding: “I would like to see all three projects come to fruition. I believe that our city deserves that. I believe that our city can support all three of these projects.”
It’s no secret that Buckhead has struggled to maintain office tenants over the last few years. Startups and global corporations like Google and Microsoft have opted for neighborhoods like Midtown and on the Westside. Centers like Ponce City Market, Tech Square, and The Interlock are now magnets for fast-growing ventures looking for office space.
Walkability and accessibility are key for companies looking to attract talent. Rodriguez believes HUB404 will be an important amenity that is currently missing in Buckhead’s central business district.
“I know that in my conversations with the business community right now, it’s incredibly energizing. I can only imagine that will translate to businesses that are looking to relocate or move from office space that once they might not have considered in Buckhead previously, they might now reconsider,” he added.
HUB404 itself is in startup mode, as Rodriguez is currently the only employee and is in charge of leading both a city-wide educational campaign and grassroots fundraising efforts. Such outreach is important since the project will rely heavily on private funding sources to reach the finish line.