Investments billions set to transform downtown Atlanta



By now I think most of us can agree that intown Atlanta has become a very cool city.

New York? Chicago? Paris? London? Well, these are pretty fantastic cities too. But I’m convinced intown Atlanta is in the midst of a renaissance that will one day put this city on par with the world’s great cities.

Atlanta had a much later start than the others. There was that little glitch back in 1864. That’s when an Ohio-born General, and later the first superintendent of an institution that later became Louisiana State University, led an army through the city and burned it down.

Today you wouldn’t know to think about it while walking through Midtown or Downtown. In fact, I noticed that the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce switched its logo from a phoenix rising from the ashes to a bird soaring through the air.

Mayor Kasim Reed and Mayor Shirley Franklin before him have proven to be good leaders. They have worked to create an environment in Atlanta that fosters creativity and heavy investment from both public and private sectors.

The city has worked hard to do its part to grow alternate transit options – something which will be key in truly transforming the city to one of the greats.

With major help from our big Atlanta corporations and other public entities, the Beltline is quickly and very successfully making its way around Atlanta.

Streetcars run through significant stops in the city.

And Atlanta has shown to be able to to get state and other key officials on board to secure more funding to expand MARTA.

It’s not perfect, but its headed clearly in the right direction. All of these things, combined with world-class Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and our weather – something my good friend John Ray told me may be our biggest economic development asset – have drawn businesses and business people from all over the world. And it follows that developers and builders from all over the world now seek out Atlanta.

The latest big developer is the German real estate company Newport US RE. According to a great article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, they have very quietly (at least to me) amassed city blocks of properties.

Newport US RE is undertaking a massive redevelopment project of up to eight blocks that would bridge the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the Turner Field site under development by Georgia State University.

The project would also run up to Underground Atlanta, which recently announced an impressive team that will completely renovate that entire development.

Oh, and let’s not forget about the $1 billion mixed-use project slated to go up around Philips Arena that is also right in downtown.

Plans are to redevelop 25 buildings south of the Five Points MARTA station that will include a mix of street-level retail with offices and residential units above.

Renderings show street-side cafes, large sidewalks, bike lanes and a great reuse of the older buildings that line the streets.

The project would create a walkable and interesting streetscape in an area that needs it. One of the big knocks on the old Turner Field and the Georgia Dome was that there was nothing to do around these venues.

When patrons went to a game or event downtown, there was nothing to do but go straight there and leave. Turner Field, Phillips Arena and the Georgia Dome were like islands.

This project along with the others mentioned could bring Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the new Turner site into the community.

To understand the scale of what’s going on in Atlanta these days, any one of the many projects going up would absolutely transform most of our suburban cities. It’s amazing that a $1 billion project is only the side-story in this article. (Avalon in Alpharetta was $500 million). Atlanta has become a behemoth, a player and fun place to live.

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