It’s been reported that in Atlanta, Buckhead has the least amount of public park space per capita. Jay Gould is working hard to change that.
STORY: Jill Becker
PHOTO: Sara Hanna
The Buckhead resident is the recently instated chairman of the board of HUB404, a proposed multi-purpose, 8-acre green space that would sit above Ga. 400. The president and CEO of Interface, a global flooring company that makes Flor carpet tiles, Gould took over as chair after a rebranding of the project, which was previously called POG 400 (as in the “park over Ga. 400”). “The project has been around for years but was languishing to be honest,” says the Ohio native, who holds an MBA from Harvard. “We needed to reframe the conversation. With the old name, it seemed grounded in Buckhead. We wanted to reframe it from a place in Buckhead to be a part of Atlanta as a whole.”
Give us the HUB404 elevator pitch.
It’s a new elevated green space where people across Atlanta can connect. It will extend from Peachtree Road to Lenox Road, and connect to the PATH400 and the BeltLine. We’re creating a gathering space out of thin air. We anticipate the ribbon cutting in 2025.
How will HUB404 compare to projects like the BeltLine or the High Line in New York City?
The High Line is a great example of what we’re trying to do with HUB404. I would love it to be that successful.
Why does Atlanta need HUB404?
Of the top 100 U.S. cities, Atlanta ranks 42nd in terms of parks systems. That part of Buckhead [where the HUB404 will be] wasn’t originally built for high-density living, but in the last 15 years there’s been an influx of condos and apartments. The goal is bringing people together in nature. Also, we anticipate it will bring 27,000 new jobs to the area. The BeltLine [demonstrates] how a park can change a community.
What is the status of things?
We’re currently in fundraising mode. We’ve done the first engineering study, and now we need to figure out the details of what the construction will take. We’ve articulated the vision; now the true work starts.
What’s been the biggest obstacle so far?
It’s a public/private partnership involving the Department of Transportation, MARTA and other state and city agencies, so it’s complicated. Having the Buckhead Community Improvement District and [its executive director] Jim Durrett involved is so important. Jim understands how to navigate these things.
Another one of the things you’re passionate about is the environment.
I was a climate change skeptic five years ago, but now I go around the world talking about it. One of my goals for Interface is to have a negative carbon footprint with no offsets by 2040. I also currently have 900 Interface employees following me in doing Meatless Mondays, [which severely reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released] into the air.
This is our fitness issue. What do you do to stay in shape?
I work out at the gym at the Sovereign, where I live. And I swim at the pool at the Waldorf Astoria. I have a membership to their spa. I swim with a snorkel and underwater iPod.
What do you listen to?
Books on tape. I just finished listening to the biography of [New England Patriots’ coach] Bill Belichick.
What do you like to do in your off-time?
My family and I have a home in Savannah, and I love to go boating, fishing and jet-skiing. We get out there three or four times a year.
What are your go-to places in Buckhead?
Bistro Niko. It’s in my building, so it’s like our kitchen. We go there probably three times a week. And you can usually find me at Sunday brunch at Le Bilboquet. It’s a great place to have champagne and people watch. And I can bring my dog, Moxie, a miniature rat terrier, with me.
What’s something on your bucket list?
I’ve never been to Patagonia. I would love to go and experience all that nature.
Award-winning writer and editor who has penned stories for CNN, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, and dozens of other outlets.