Developers and city officials say the result could be to reinvent a part of the city that currently lacks many housing, retail and entertainment options. Outside of the traditional workday, concerts, big conferences, or Atlanta Hawks, Game days of the Hawks and United, the vicinity of the Mercedes-Benz stadium is often devoid of activity.
But downtown promoters say that is about to change.
“I think it’s shifting so fast that there are parts of this neighborhood that no one will be able to remember or identify with,” said April Stammell, senior vice president of Newport, which is renovating Mitchell Street. To showcase office space for artists, restaurants, and shops that can be accessed from the street as part of the Downtown South project.
The largest project in progress, and closest to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, is Centennial Yards, a “small town” of hotels, offices, retail and apartments to be built on 50 acres in Gulch, which is currently a sea area of parking and rail lines below street level.
Part of the plans of the developer CIM Group is to build a new street network at the level of the existing bridges in the city center. A company spokesperson said the platform, which was once said to cost $700 million, “will be expanded and improved as the project grows.” The company’s goal is to complete about 30% of the street network by 2026.
CIM Group aims to complete its first phase of construction by 2026, including a hotel, apartment building, adaptive office space, restaurants, bars, music venue, gathering space, and “The Canyon,” a beer shop and retail restaurant row near the footbridge to the stadium.
“It definitely gave us something to focus on,” Centennial Yards captain Brian McGowan said of the World Cup. Four buildings are expected to open later this year.
“people on the street”
South of downtown Atlanta was once home to busy train stations, popular stores, and the bustling boardwalk known as the Row Hotel.
But other parts of Atlanta have taken on downtown’s reputation as a hangout and entertainment lane, leaving the impression that downtown is a place to occasionally travel to — not live.
“We tore up a lot of our downtown history. We tore up a lot of it to build parking,” said Councilman Jason Dozier, who lives in nearby Mechanicsville and represents a large part of downtown. “
He said the residential development has been sorely missing downtown for decades.
Rents in downtown are lower than in the city’s other urban cores, Buckhead and Midtown. According to Atlanta real estate services firm Berkadia, the median rent in downtown is about $1,800, while it’s more than $2,000 in those other dense areas despite having similar occupancy rates in the three locations. Some suburbs also have higher average rents than downtown, including Alpharetta, Decatur, Dunwoody, and Vinings.
The same trend is reflected in office rents in the city center. According to real estate data firm CoStar, the median price for downtown offices in the second quarter of 2022 was less than $31 per square foot, about $10 cheaper than Midtown and $5 cheaper than Buckhead. Six office towers in the Peachtree Center, a landmark in the Atlanta skyline, recently underwent foreclosure as occupancy of the complex dropped to 55%.
“I think especially with the whole redevelopment of Midtown…these (downtown) opportunities were unfortunately fewer and farther between these opportunities,” Dozier said.
Many ongoing projects focus on attracting more people to live in the city centre. The Lofts at Centennial Yards opened last year with 162 apartments. A second apartment building will open at Centennial Yards later this year. Lalani said a subway housing project would also start before 2023.
As metro housing costs rise and the stock of affordable housing shrinks, housing advocates see the new downtown development as an opportunity to offer more housing to low-income Atlantans. As part of its deal with the city, Centennial Yards is being asked to price 20% of its units affordable for people making 80% of the median income in the area, which is currently $96,400 for a family of four in Metro Atlanta. Details of future home prices in Underground Atlanta have not been released.
Newport announced its first housing project on September 19 and plans to deliver 650 new apartments along South Broad Street by 2025. Seventy of these units will be reserved for people making 80% of the median income in the area.
Stammel said it was crucial for people to see downtown as an attractive place to live for these revitalization projects to thrive. The World Cup gives a new deadline to make that happen.
“There is no reason why there shouldn’t be thousands upon thousands of apartments near[Five Points Marta],” she said. “Between us, CIM Group and Underground, I think we’re doing just that.”
Visitors will also have new places to stay, including the long-planned Signia by Hilton Atlanta at the Georgia World Convention Center. By January 2024, the hotel should be open to approximately 1,000 guests Rooms.
William Butt, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, said downtown needs to “put its best face forward” for the World Cup. He said there are many events as people flock to downtown, but he said the area needs to feel crowded and populated at all times — not just when conventions and sporting events come to town.
“We will have more of that feeling in Midtown where people are on the street day and night,” he said.
When beloved music venue The Masquerade moved from its Old Four Ward location to a new location in Underground Atlanta in 2016, It was meant to be a temporary movement. General Manager Greg Green admitted that people were skeptical of the decision, to move south of downtown.
Six years later, Masquerade is residing in the Underground, investing in the renovation of the “Hell” and “Purgatory” phases, as developers work on plans for redevelopment elsewhere across the 12-acre site.
“It proved to be a great site for us,” Green said. “I think people see it working for us and they think it can work for them too.”
Lalani, a development newcomer to Atlanta, has yet to launch his grand vision for revitalizing the Underground. He said the master plan is nearing completion and will be announced soon.
He said Masquerade and the Atlanta Brewing Company, which recently announced it will move to Underground Atlanta, are helping set the stage for where he wants the area to become. Lalani said he aims to complete and lease the first phase of the project 100% by the time the World Cup comes to town.
“Everyone’s looking downtown,” Lalani said. “It’s a blessing, and the timing is really right now for everyone to start this process.”
Next to the subway, MARTA is planning a major renovation of the Five Points MARTA station, the central hub of the system that will prove important during the World Cup. The agency will start rehabilitating the train platforms in September and beginning in 2024, it will begin improving bus bays and removing the concrete canopy covering the outdoor plaza. MARTA officials said work on the canopy and arena will still be underway when the World Cup begins, but work on the train platforms will be complete.
Other parts of Centennial Yards — which got the go-ahead from the city with a controversial stimulus package that could equal about $1.9 billion in bonds and compensation — will also be under construction by 2026. When complete, developers envision a bustling sports entertainment district with new blocks City, offices, retail and thousands of apartments.
The valley, which will include Wild Leap Brewery, Jinya Ramen Bar, and other tenants, is beginning to emerge. The century-old cobbled streets have been preserved in patches as decor, and string lights are already in place to illuminate late-night gatherings.
It hosts the World Cup matches It will be a huge project for state and local leaders, and the city’s largest tourism economy, with a potential mix of public and private investment in the event.
“We’re going to see, I think, the most significant period of transformation in the city in over a decade,” Pat said. “The city is really going to get a great update right before the World Cup.”
– This is a $5 billion redevelopment project by developer CIM Group in downtown “The Gulch” near Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The 50-acre site will include approximately 4 million square feet of housing and 4 million square feet of commercial space as well as retail, offices, restaurants, and a hotel.
A master plan is still in the works by developer Lalani Ventures for the shopping center that spans Pryor, Central, Wall and Alabama streets. The 12-acre site is expected to undergo a $150 million renovation project, which Lalani said will likely include housing, restaurants, shops, offices and a hotel.
south of downtown
The South Downtown Newport developer aims to transform dozens of historic buildings along Mitchell Street, including the historic Roe Hotel and 222 Mitchell Street. More than forty buildings in the area will be redeveloped into offices, restaurants, retail and leisure, and hundreds of new apartments will be built on two blocks of South Broad Street.
Five Points Marta Station
The train station will undergo a $200 million renovation project that will improve bus routes, revitalize the station yard, and lay the foundations for future transit-oriented development. Work on the project will start in 2024 and is expected to be completed by 2028.