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Piedmont Park begins final expansion

10:47 AM, Mar 12, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Six years ago, the Piedmont Park Conservancy made a promise. They vowed to be good stewards of the $42 million they would raise for a massive expansion in the heart of downtown Atlanta. Now, the first phase is almost complete.

"When we started our project, people couldn't see what these places could be," Piedmont Park Conservancy president Yvette Bowden said.

PHOTO GALLERY | See the new expansion project 

11Alive News has followed that promise of progress through Green Concerts, muddy construction and the recession.

The path is now paved and it leads here: the final project in the $42 million Piedmont Park Expansion.

VIDEO | View the master plan for Piedmont Park

For decades, 12 acres of trash and kudzu sat at the corner of Monroe Drive and Piedmont Road. It's the south end of Piedmont Park and used to be owned by the city's Watershed Department.

"You know, it's really hard to see what it was before, because when you came out here before it wasn't passable," Bowden said. When asked how much trash was removed from the area, park officials said they're not sure, but say it took thousands of volunteer hours.

The piece of land is still in rough shape. Bulldozers are still reshaping the land into fields and paths. But already, the improvement is noticeable.

Empty buildings along Monroe Drive are suddenly sitting on prime real estate. There will be three new pedestrian entrances to the park in the new expansion, including a major park entryway on Monroe Drive, just past the intersection. The finish to this first long phase could be the most influential.

"I think that's what great green space projects are all about, they open up spaces and opportunities for the rest of us to enjoy the city," Bowden said.

It's been a rocky road through the recession, but it ends here in June. With the expansion done, the conservancy will launch a new journey to raise $30 million to build amenities.  They will include a skate park, carousel, community garden, and playgrounds.

The Green Concerts have been massively successful and huge fundraisers for Piedmont Park. Last year, they didn't have one. They do have a permit in for a possible date in June, but the conservancy tells 11Alive News they're still unsure if it will happen. They say it depends on finding just the right act.

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