By John Schaffner
In the late 1930s, when a young Charlie Loudermilk rode a trolley to Buckhead to the movie house on Roswell Road, the pie-shaped piece of land formed by the split of Peachtree and Roswell roads was filled with retail shops.
A lot has changed since, in Buckhead, at the movie house and on that pie-shaped plot of land.
The retail shops were removed when Sam Massell was mayor of Atlanta in the 1970s and replaced by a green space called Buckhead Triangle Park. Last May, the name was changed to Charlie Loudermilk Park in honor of his civic leadership in the community.
Today, Charlie Loudermilk owns that movie house, which last was named the Roxy Theater. He is spending millions to renovate the theater and make it once again a cultural center of Buckhead.
At the same time, Charlie Loudermilk Park is also undergoing a proposed transformation.
The planned redesign, spearheaded by the Buckhead Alliance, “creates a walk through the history of Buckhead,” according to the Web site the Alliance established to sell personalized bricks for the park.
A wall in the park will be created to resemble the façade of one of the old stores that once stood in Buckhead. The park also will feature the bronze buck’s head statue memorializing the head from which the community got its name. Another feature in the proposed design is a clock tower.
The design was to be shown to the public at a meeting Feb. 10 at the Peachtree Presbyterian Church Lodge.
“What we want to do is have a walk through Buckhead history,” Robin Loudermilk, founder of the Buckhead Alliance and CEO of Buckhead-based Aaron’s Inc., said when the park was dedicated in 2009. “People can walk to different areas of the park and hear about various aspects of Buckhead history.”
Like his father, who founded Aaron’s and is refurbishing the Roxy across from the park, Robin Loudermilk would like to create a wall in the park that looks like part of one of the old stores that once stood there.
He wants to make it a place “where people would come and have their picture taken. Maybe inscribe the wall with the names of the Buchead Boys, Buckhead Coalition, the founders and the people who have been involved in making the community.”
The Buckhead Alliance has been working on the design with Buckhead architectural firm William Harrison Design and Atlanta’s parks department. To raise funds for the park redo, the alliance started a “Pave the Way” campaign, selling personalized bricks at $100 each to be used as part of the park renovation.
“We need to have two to three documented public meetings before we get approval from the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs and City Council,” said Buckhead Alliance executive director Kendall Craig.
Architect Bill Harrison presented information and renderings showing some proposed elements for the new park design in an attempt to get public feedback on what is being proposed and suggestions for alternative designs. An alliance representative was on hand to record the public’s feedback at the meeting.
Some of that information presented at the meeting also is available on the special park Web site (www.loudermilkpark.com).
“We’re also requesting that the Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID) manage the perimeter of the park—the sidewalks, street lamps, etc.” Craig said. She indicated the CID board will see the map and plan at its February meeting and will vote on that after obtaining pricing for their participation.
The proposed park design also will be presented to Neighborhood Planning Unit B before going to City Council for consideration. The NPU presentation has not been scheduled, but probably will occur in the spring.