If developers, Atlanta officials and the city’s Major League Baseball team have their way, the dreary swath of parking lots north of Turner Field could one day become a hot intown neighborhood of broad parks, hip restaurants and cool cribs.
Four development teams have pitched their visions for the area around the Braves’ stadium, a lackluster stretch passed by hundreds of thousands of commuters each day and seen by tens of thousands of fans before 81 regular-season home games each baseball season.
The area has seen its chances at redevelopment rise and fall for decades with little to show for it. And the latest request for ideas is simply a starting point — developers’ dreams and proposals for how funding might happen that could one day shape a master plan or formal proposal process.
The city’s economic development arm, Invest Atlanta, sent out a request for ideas for how developers might transform 55 acres of land north of the ballpark into a mixed-use sports and entertainment district with year-round activity.
At the request of Invest Atlanta — which has a mission to fuel economic progress, help startup businesses, issue bonds for development and cultivate homeownership — each of the Turner Field proposals contains expansion of the downtown streetcar or other transit links, parking decks with at least 10,000 spaces, and a design theme to honor Hank Aaron’s home run record and the history of the Braves.
Development in the area has failed to gain traction, and an amusement zone called FanPlex withered and died outside the stadium nearly a decade ago. The area has a tax allocation district that as of late last year had about $400,000 in available funds.
The idea phase for the Turner Field area comes as the Atlanta Falcons negotiate for a new domed stadium and a few years before the Braves’ lease on the ballpark is up.
“Some ideas were thrown around and I think we’re in a great place coming out of a recession to start this exercise,” said Tyrone Rachal, the managing director of redevelopment for Invest Atlanta.
The following groups submitted ideas for 55 acres of land near Turner Field:
Team: Atlanta-based E.W. Bowen & Co., Cascade Building Systems, et al.
Who they are: E.W. Bowen principal Edward Bowen Jr. has experience in development of the Atlanta City Courts, the Sam Nunn Federal Building and mixed-income neighborhood development.
The pitch: The team could add 17 acres to the development and link it to historic Summerhill. The concept includes a park at the site of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, more than 3,500 residential units, more than 450,000 square feet of retail.
Team: Joseph Flournoy
Who he is: Atlanta architect
The pitch: A broad swath of parks and tourist attractions, including an observation Ferris wheel similar to the famed London Eye. The site of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium would become a park with reflecting pools, and the remainder of the project would include an exhibit hall, gymnasium and recreation center, an “interactive” park with art, a hotel, shopping and residential districts, and a sports complex for batting cages and other activities.
Team: Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises, Atlanta-based Cooper Carry and Kimley-Horn and Associates
Who they are: Forest City is famed for mega mixed-use developments such as The Yards in Washington, D.C. The company is also part of the team planning for a downtown Atlanta multimodal transit station in “the Gulch” near the CNN Center. The Cooper Carry architecture firm is the team behind Lindbergh City Center and 10 Terminus Place. Kimley-Horn is a noted engineering and environmental firm.
The pitch: a plaza in homage to the Braves and slugger Hank Aaron and an expansive development including streetcar and other transit links, 809 multifamily housing units, 720 student housing units and 52 town homes; nearly 200,000 square feet of street-front retail, office space, a hotel and hints at a multipurpose stadium for perhaps pro soccer or Georgia State football.
The team: North American Properties and Atlanta-based Russell New Urban Development, et al.
Who they are: North American Properties is the owner of the Atlantic Station town center and developer of Avalon in Alpharetta; Russell New Urban, part of the H.J. Russell Co., is the developer of Central Park Lofts and The Washington at Historic Westside Village.
The pitch: A $400 million combination of 1,000 apartments and lofts, 80 town homes, 250,000 square feet of retail, 400,000 square feet of offices for organizations such as startups and nonprofits, and a hotel. The plan would create a network of walkable streets, convert the site of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium into Hank Aaron Park with a plaza south to Turner Field.
Three other big-name real estate or design groups also expressed interest in some form of role in the project: architecture firm Perkins + Will; OliverMcMillan, the developer of Buckhead Atlanta, the former Streets of Buckhead mixed-use development; and Missouri-based developer Red Legacy.
Source: Proposals obtained from Invest Atlanta