Source: Thomas Wheatley, Atlanta Magazine
What is it?
Sure, the construction of I-75/85 connected Atlanta to the rest of the Southeast. But it also sliced our once bustling downtown in half, decimating black-owned businesses and ruining the pedestrian experience in some parts of the city. But a long-discussed daydream of urbanists and Georgia Tech students could become a reality with the Stitch, Central Atlanta Progress’s bold plan to cap the Downtown Connector near Emory Midtown, creating a new three-acre park and developable land that could house more residents—exactly what’s needed to create a new, walkable downtown.
Early estimates pegged the price tag at $300 million based on similar projects in Dallas and Boston. However, boosters think creating a blank slate for development near transit and the interstate, in the heart of downtown, could attract more than $3.1 billion in investment.
Project boosters launched a feasibility study late last year.
Sure, the Stitch doesn’t exist yet. But reports say the spot did land on a shortlist of properties that could accommodate the online retailer’s second North American headquarters.
South Downtown/The Gulch
What is it?
In October 2016, Jake Nawrocki was standing in the middle of South Broad Street in South Downtown, surrounded by more than 100 local artists and neighbors having a dinner party in the middle of Elevate, a public art event celebrating the neighborhood’s historic past and daydreaming about its future. The Atlanta-based president of Newport US RE, the German developer that was plotting to buy dozens of the historic community’s underutilized buildings, looked around and thought: This is going to be more than your traditional real estate investment. Led by real-estate veterans such as Katherine Kelley, who helped Jamestown Properties redevelop Ponce City Market, Newport owns or controls 47 buildings—more than 800,000 square feet stretching 10 city blocks—that it plans to renovate and activate with retail, restaurants, and housing. Doing so would revive the oldest and most long-overlooked part of the city, one that already has distinct strengths: historic building stock, walkable grid streets, and simmering energy in a tight-knit arts hub. In the same area, Los Angeles–based CIM Group wants to build a mixed-use mini city capping “the Gulch,” the nearly 200-acre expanse of parking lots and railroad tracks next to Philips Arena. (Atlanta Hawks owner Tony Ressler is the brother of a CIM Group executive.) The group’s tentative plan includes 9 million square feet of office space, a hotel (or two), and 1,000 housing units.
Newport has spent approximately $89 million acquiring the buildings alone, and last year then mayor Kasim Reed said CIM Group could invest $1 billion.
Phase One of Newport’s plan—the adaptive reuse of buildings and tenant move-in—is currently underway. Phase Two (no date set just yet) would turn more than four acres of parking lots into 1,000 apartments.
Pardon the pun, but it’s prime. The site made the shortlist of potential sites for the company’s second headquarters, and CIM Group’s timeline for completing the project ends in 2027—the same year Amazon wants its new location fully built.