Construction cranes came back to life on Tuesday over Buckhead Atlanta, the long-delayed project to turn what used to be the city's party district into an upscale development.
Once an ambitious plan known as the Streets of Buckhead, the project has been scaled back by new developer OliverMcMillan. The proposed five-star hotels centered around a Rodeo Drive of the South have been replaced with a more intimate plan for apartments, office space and high-end retail.
"We are firmly convinced that this project can happen," said Hunter Richardson, the development director for the project.
The project stalled in 2009, leaving partly-finished construction dotting an 8-acre bowl in the heart of Buckhead. After months of behind-the-scenes preparations, cranes started removing debris from the gaping dirt hole at the middle of the project on Tuesday.
Soon, they'll start piecing together the bones of the buildings. The project should be complete by late 2013 or early 2014, Richardson said.
The finished project will have enough space for 80 to 85 retail, restaurant and other tenants. Richardson wouldn't say how many businesses have signed on, but he said luxury chain Hermes, the anchor tenant secured years ago, remains committed.
"We're signing leases. We're doing deals," he said. "But it's not in our interest to announce tenants."
The roughly $1 billion project will eventually include 370 apartments, 300,000 square feet of retail space and about 100,000 square feet of "boutique" office space, the developers say.
Former Gov. Roy Barnes on Thursday said state Rep. Tyrone Brooks will mount a vigorous challenge of a 30-count federal indictment that accuses him of stealing nearly $1 million over 20 years from a pair of charities.