By Cathy Sheehan, Senior Associate, Office Tenant Representation
Downtown Atlanta, home to Georgia State University, the state capitol and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, is about to get a significant boost thanks to several announced redevelopment projects and an investment pipeline of $5 billion from 2017 to 2022.
With attractions such as the Georgia Aquarium, the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Center for Civil & Human Rights and the World of Coke, Downtown is already a big draw for tourists during the day. The hope is that the new developments will bring retail and restaurants that will keep people Downtown longer. Creating an environment that continues to enable walkability is key. The Downtown core already boasts an average walk score of 91, and the projects taking shape could continue to make a significant impact.
The largest of these is Newport U.S. RE’s plan to invest $500 million in South Downtown to renovate 1.8 million square feet. In late 2017, the company purchased 47 buildings, a parking deck, four acres of surface parking and vacant lots in the area. The company plans to start the renovations as early as the second quarter of this year, beginning with 16 properties totaling 100,000 square feet between Lower Alabama Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Also underway is the renovation of Philips Arena, a $192.5 million investment that will keep the Atlanta Hawks Downtown through 2046. Construction began in the summer of 2016, and Phase I is expected to be complete during the 2018-2019 season, which marks the Hawks’ 50th anniversary in the city. The Georgia World Congress Center is getting an overhaul as well, which will create an additional 1.1 million square feet of contiguous exhibition space.
CIM Group presented the most recent design concept for The Gulch to the Design Review Committee in late January. As of now, the plan calls for 9 million square feet of office space, 1 million square feet of retail and restaurant space, 1,000 residences and 1,500 hotel rooms, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Another planned economic development initiative is the Arts & Entertainment District, which is currently in the permitting stage. The district will allow for digital signage and allow for Times Square-style digital media and entertainment. The city hopes to have the first signs installed and active by Super Bowl LIII, to be held in Atlanta on Feb. 3, 2019.
While the redevelopment initiatives should have a significant impact on Downtown, they don’t come without their concerns, primarily the availability of affordable housing. Central Atlanta Progress, the City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Housing Authority have created a task force to work with developers and make sure affordable housing is included in their plans. Newly elected Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has indicated that affordable housing is a big initiative for her and one that will continue to be at the forefront of any development or redevelopment activity Downtown.
From workspace visioning and long-term strategy development, Cathy Sheehan helps clients develop and implement a real estate approach that supports and enhances their overall business goals and financial objectives.