Talk to people who’ve seen it, and they’ll tell you Atlanta’s Westside Park isn’t just a city amenity on an unprecedented scale—it’s a regional attraction in the making.
For now, those lucky few have been city leaders, parks and trails officials, and construction-industry folks. (Our requests for a tour have been ignored.) But that’s expected to change, at long last, in a matter of months.
Some 15 years in the making, what’s now officially called “Westside Park”—they’ve dropped the reference to Bellwood Quarry in the name—could open as soon as late spring, but more likely early summer, according to Atlanta Parks and Recreation officials. (Spring ends this year on June 20.)
Plans have changed, however, since the park’s ballyhooed groundbreaking in lush forests west of Midtown in 2018. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the projected opening of phase one last year. Initially, that section was expected to cost $26 million, funded mostly through T-SPLOST ($15 million) with the rest covered by parks and rec and watershed departments, plus development impact fees.
An expanded phase one—part 1A and 1B, as one construction company puts it—will see $44 million worth of work completed when the gates open this year.
Expect huge sculptures, a playground and large open fields, plus two and ½ miles of ADA-accessible bike and walking trails linking to the marquee attraction: the “grand overlook” on the high cliffs of the former quarry, now a crucial water reservoir with panoramic views. Eventually, this initial phase is slated to expand across 280 acres, dwarfing Piedmont Park by nearly 100 acres as the largest park in Atlanta. Connections to the BeltLine and nearby Proctor Creek Greenway are in the works.
Have a look at where the project stands, following recent drone tours, in the gallery above, or below:
The 400-foot-deep quarry (and popular filming location, as seen in The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, and Hunger Games) in spring 2019, when work on the park's initial phase began in earnest.Courtesy of Jonathan Phillips; 2019
The park's Johnson Road entrance today. Jonathan Phillips/Urbanize Atlanta
Designed by HGOR and Portman architects, the "Gate at Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry" entry sculpture is meant to be "evocative of the skeletal remains of a mythical creature."Jonathan Phillips/Urbanize Atlanta
Construction on additional parking areas, as seen in late February. Expect 250 parking spaces when phase one debuts. Jonathan Phillips/Urbanize Atlanta
Public spaces just west of the former Bellwood Quarry. Infrastructure for a failed subdivision had to be removed in this general area. Jonathan Phillips/Urbanize Atlanta
Part of the 2.5-mile pedestrian and bike trail system featured in phase one. Jonathan Phillips/Urbanize Atlanta
Greenspace construction and light installation today, with downtown shown to the southeast. Jonathan Phillips/Urbanize Atlanta
It's at this point a technical malfunction grounded our drone, so we’ll revert to scenes from flyover footage by construction company Reeves Young’s heavy civil division, as compiled in January. Seen here is the "Birth of Atlanta" sculpture and restrooms. Reeves Young/YouTube
With a dazzling color display at night, the piece by artist Amy Landesberg was relocated from Underground Atlanta. It's meant to commemorate the founding of Atlanta—and the birth of the city's largest park. Reeves Young
Completed playground, a dog park, and trails. Reeves Young
Passive greenspaces and looping paved trails lead visitors to the former quarry. Reeves Young
Behold 2.4 billion gallons of water channeled from the Chattahoochee River to the vast quarry site as part of a five-year, $321-million reservoir project that finished in January. It's enough H2O to last the City of Atlanta for a month in the event of extreme drought or cataclysmic emergency, per city officials. Reeves Young
What's called the "grand overlook," a public viewing point several stories above the water with views of Midtown and downtown. Reeves Young
The overlook and cliffs of the former quarry. Reeves Young
A broader Westside context. Reeves Young
The rib-like Gate sculpture at night. Reeves Young
Back to the Johnson Road entrance. Reeves Young
How greenspaces are expected to look as landscaping matures. City of Atlanta Parks and Recreation
An earlier rendering shows the scope of the finished 280 acres, and how sports uses could be incorporated. The 3.5-mile Proctor Creek Greenway, opened in 2018, runs along the waterway at bottom left. City of Atlanta archives
• Westside Park flyover (Reeves Young/FB)
• Sneak peek: Westside BeltLine Connector, how downtown links to the loop (Urbanize Atlanta)