The Midtown Atlanta skyline as seen from Piedmont Park
ATLANTA -- Thursday morning Piedmont Park hosted a milestone moment.
Officials unveiled Piedmont Commons, the park's new 12 1/2-acre green space. It is the final step of Phase 1 of the park's expansion, which has transformed Piedmont Park into an Atlanta jewel.
Among the latest improvements:
- new entrances to and from the Atlanta BeltLine
- expansion that connects the park from Piedmont Avenue all the way to Monroe Avenue
- wireless Internet coming soon
"Today is a pretty special day for our city," said Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed.
PHOTO GALLERY | Piedmont Park: Before and After
The day is particularly special in light of what Piedmont Park used to look like.
"If you were to look at the park in 1990, I think that you'd be pretty depressed," said Piedmont Park Conservancy COO Chris Nelson. "There hadn't been trees planted in the park for decades, and most of the buildings were in disrepair."
Two decades, and two master plans later, look at it now.
Piedmont Park today includes renovated buildings, a state-of-the-art pool, and a greater amount -- and greater diversity -- of green. The park also continues to flex its muscle with the Green Concerts, Music Midtown, and all sorts of events and festivals.
Said the mayor, "They consistently deliver concrete results and best-in-show standards."
The results have come through cooperation. The latest expansion cost $42 million, nearly 90 percent of which came from private donations.
"There was a lot of folks out there who doubted whether the conservancy had the capacity to raise that much money," said Nelson, "and whether the public had the will to shepherd that along."
Nelson and the Piedmont Park Conservancy silenced those doubters. He says the bigger challenge will be raising money to maintain the park's new toys. Piedmont Park officials have more ambitious plans for Phase 2 of the expansion.
For more stories by Matt Pearl, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook, and check out his "Telling The Story" blog.
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