How downtown's Gulch wins even if Atlanta loses Amazon HQ2 derby

November 17,2017

Source: Urvaksh Karkaria and Dave Williams, Atlanta Business Chronicle

The Amazon HQ2 derby could be the spark that finally ignites the redevelopment of The Gulch — a 120-acre mish-mash of railroads and parking lots in downtown Atlanta — even if the city does not land the economic development whale.

The Gulch, according to sources, is the “primary site” in the city’s efforts to land Amazon’s $5 billion second headquarters — a project that could bring up to 50,000 jobs. Atlanta officials are making a push to sweeten the site for Amazon, which has received more than 280 proposals from cities across North America.

Two ordinances introduced into the Atlanta City Council Nov. 6 would offer tax incentives to developers of the site and lower costs for corporate relocation projects that create at least 8,000 jobs. The city council is expected to vote on the ordinances Nov. 20.

Seattle-based Amazon is barreling forward in its search for an 8-million-square-foot ‘HQ2’ site. The Internet giant, currently making site visits around the country, reportedly expects to have a short list Dec. 1. A final decision will be made in 2018.

Georgia is said to have submitted nearly 10 sites, including intown and suburban locations. Besides The Gulch, other favorite sites are said to be the former General Motors plant in Doraville and a 100-acre site on the Westside.

The Gulch is an attractive site for a project such as Amazon’s HQ2 because of the property’s scale, access to transit, and its proximity to a globally connected airport and universities.

Any site that Amazon picks will be transformational because of the sheer size of the project, noted urban planner and Atlanta Beltline architect Ryan Gravel.

“The Gulch, if it’s done right, could leverage that transformation to also accomplish public goals, such as bridging The Gulch itself with new streets, connecting the different districts of downtown, orienting growth around MARTA, and putting in the infrastructure for commuter rail,” Gravel said.

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