Atlanta prepares to sell civic center

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Atlanta prepares to sell civic center

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KENT D. JOHNSON / AJC
Exterior photos of the Atlanta Civic Center, shot Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

City of Atlanta officials are taking the first steps toward selling another major asset — the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center.

City Councilman Kwanza Hall introduced legislation Monday that could pave the way for the city to sell the aging performing arts center to a developer. Under the proposal, the city would transfer the property to Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, which would design a bid process and request proposals from developers to revitalize the site.

The measure could come before the full City Council for a vote in the weeks ahead.

Atlanta officials want to shed properties that aren’t generating property tax revenue as the city gears up for an expected infrastructure bond referendum in 2015. A commission is identifying costs-savings for the city to fund debt service on the bonds without raising taxes.

Last month, Mayor Kasim Reed announced plans to sell the struggling Underground Atlanta complex.

The civic center was built in 1967 and its theater seats 4,600. The venue has played host to such cultural fixtures as the Atlanta Opera and touring Broadway shows, and the campus was once home to the SciTrek museum. In recent years, the site has been popular as a filming location.

Major touring shows often bypass the center for the Fox Theatre and others. A 2012 city analysis projected the center would lose $400,000 per year through 2017.

Redevelopment plans for the site have percolated periodically. The property, listed in the proposed ordinance as 16 acres, sits adjacent the headquarters of Georgia Power.

Hall, who represents District 2, including the civic center, said the property could be suitable for a mix of uses –including housing, a hotel and shops – and could boost nearby redevelopment.

Hall also said developer could reposition the civic center, investing in or reimagining the facility in a way “that honors the Jones legacy, (and) gives better facilities for (the) film and entertainment industries.”

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