ATLANTA -- Fifteen years after it opened, Centennial Olympic Park is about to get a facelift. Park management says it's time to hit the "reset button."
Jamie Hickox and her family were drawn into Centennial Olympic Park while waiting for the nearby Georgia Aquarium to open. "And then, once we got in here, we were like, 'Wow! That's pretty! I wonder what's over there? And over there?'"
Centennial Olympic Park is the heart of Atlanta's tourism triangle. When the park was designed before the 1996 Olympics, it was an oasis. "Everything else downtown was doom and gloom. The aquarium didn't exist. The World of Coke and the beautiful hotels; none of that was here," park assistant general manager Joe Skopitz said. "We were designed so you really couldn't see out to those spaces. And what we're finding 15 years later, if you're walking down the sidewalk, you can't see in."
As the neighborhood around the Park has changed, it stayed pretty much the same. Until now.
At a recent retreat for Georgia World Congress Center staff, the results of a survey were presented. They released preliminary plans to "reset" the park for the future.
AECOM was the architectural firm, even the two original architects who built the park. Plans are very preliminary, but could include more on-street parking, art installations, more chairs and tables, new water features, a carousel, restaurants, and a beer garden.
Hickox isn't a fan of that last idea. "I think alcohol will draw a different crowd other than what my children need to be doing."
Kathy Coleman and her family had just arrived from Jacksonville, Florida. "We need somewhere for the kids to stretch their legs and kind of cut lose," she said.
Comments like that will help the park on their next assignment: vet the project list. They hope to fund the ideas with corporate partnerships and private funds. There's no exact timeline, but park leaders are hoping to celebrate the park's 20th anniversary in 2016 with a new look.
What do you think the upgrades should include? Tweet your ideas using the hashtag #CentennialPark