Hartsfield-Jackson hotel redesigned; construction may start this year

Top: Rendering of initial design of hotel to be built next to Hartsfield-Jackson international Airport. Bottom: Rendering of new design. (Majestic Realty Co.)

A hotel to be built next to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been redesigned, and construction could start by the end of the year.

However, the hotel will no longer be an InterContinental, as previously planned. Instead, it is expected to be a Hilton.

The developers have significantly altered the design from a modern stacked-building-block style to a more traditional glass building with geometric embellishments.

A rendering of the old design of the hotel to be built next to Hartsfield-Jackson. (Source: Majestic Realty Co.)

The new design by project architect Portman Architects, formerly known as John Portman & Associates, will allow for easier flow of guests through the lobby and to the rooms, and will also allow the hotel to have about 100 more rooms than previously planned, according to developers.

The 14-story hotel will be built where the West economy parking lot sits now, steps away from the domestic terminal of the world’s busiest airport.

Stan Conway, executive vice president of Majestic Realty, said the hotel will be unique in the world and will improve the experience for travelers coming into the Atlanta airport.

A rendering of the new design for the hotel to be built next to Hartsfield-Jackson. (Source: Majestic Realty Co.)

When it opens — expected sometime in 2022 — travelers will “have a place to stay … a place to eat … a place to meet,” Conway said.

Majestic is part of a team called Majestic Carter Atlanta Mixed Use LLC that was selected in 2015 to develop a hotel and office building on a 50-year lease. Majestic's initial proposal for the project was an InterContinental Hotel, but it has since changed plans.

InterContinental Hotels Group has its headquarters for the Americas in metro Atlanta, but Hilton is one of the biggest brands in the U.S. hotel industry, particularly among business travelers.

Plans are now for a hotel with 541 rooms, 1,200 parking spaces and an office building of at least 50,000 square feet to be constructed in three years.

Development of the privately funded $350 million hotel project has been delayed for years.

The idea for a hotel next to the airport emerged more than five years ago.

The lease was approved by the Atlanta City Council in 2016, and the city held an event at the airport in late 2016 to announce plans for the project, saying construction would begin by early 2018 and be complete in 2020.

But the timeline has been delayed by roughly two years, and the project has changed significantly during that time.

The airport in 2017 agreed to a $500,000 annual discount on rent to the hotel developers as a concession for reducing space for the hotel by a couple of acres. The hotel never broke ground in 2018.

Developers have spent much of the time since then awaiting approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration for the original design and redesign. Developers have been coordinating with airport officials on other projects in the same area, redesigning the hotel to improve the flow and reduce noise, and expanding it with more rooms.

It’s still not certain that construction will start this year.

That will depend on getting permits and approval from the FAA, which would allow developers to move forward on due diligence and close on financing for the deal.

The FAA is still conducting an airspace study of the proposed project to determine if it could affect operations at the airport.

Some planning has moved forward, however. In mid-August, the airport relocated off-airport parking shuttle pickups to make way for the eventual first stages of construction.

“Our goal is to have an iconic Atlanta landmark,” said Majestic senior vice president Barry McCabe.

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