High-impact projects loom large in 2016

From new ballparks to urban revival, these 13 developments could reshape the region.
Suburban town centers reflect the trernd of metro cities seeking to become more urban. Sandy Springs (artist's rendering of City Springs.)

Suburban town centers reflect the trernd of metro cities seeking to become more urban. Sandy Springs (artist's rendering of City Springs.)

Metro Atlanta is seeing a surge in new development after the lonely days of the recession that left cranes idled and development dreams stalled.

As 2016 dawns, apartments by the thousands are in the pipeline, two new professional stadiums are taking shape and developers are taking chances again with numerous projects on the drawing board.

The AJC gives you a rundown of a baker’s dozen high-profile projects that will take major steps forward this year. This is not a ranking of the most important among them, nor is it an exhaustive list. Some are little more than grand visions with a lot of details still to be determined. But all will help shape the region in the years to come.

Turner Field

The Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority on Dec. 21 chose a group headlined by Georgia State University and real estate firm Carter to redevelop Turner Field after the Braves leave at the end of 2016. This summer, Georgia State and its development team agreed to buy Turner Field for $30 million.  In early November, the University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved a $53 million plan to buy and overhaul the stadium and some surrounding property is a milestone for the downtown university and its development partners, and keeps the purchase on track to be completed by the end of the year. The Georgia State team wants to transform the overall site into a $300 million mix of private student housing, apartments, single family homes, retail, and convert The Ted into a football stadium. A neighborhood planning effort also is underway that residents hope will help steer development in an area where stadiums haven't fulfilled the promises of jobs and growth.

Mercedes-Benz Stadium/Westside/Centennial Olympic Park

The new $1.4 billion Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC stadium is the carrot that city boosters hope can lure a Super Bowl and that has already won a future NCAA Men's Final Four and college football title game. The partly taxpayer-funded arena is also the anchor that city officials have said will foster rejuvenation of the beleaguered Westside. The Georgia Dome didn't, but many private and nonprofit organizations, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy and city officials say they will bring the resources to bear that weren't made available in the 1990s when the first dome was built.

SunTrust Park/The Battery

Cobb County hitched its wagon to the Braves to help spur growth in the Cumberland area. Not only is the $672 million stadium, partly financed by taxpayers, taking shape, but the Braves and their development team are starting to unveil tenants in the $550 million Battery entertainment district next door. Comcast will occupy the office tower, and more announcements are expected in 2016 as the wind-up to Opening Day 2017 kicks into high gear.

High Performance Computing Center (a.k.a. Technology Square Phase II)

Georgia Tech and Jthe Atlanta-based Portman real estate empire are taking on a second act to the popular Technology Square development. The first phase, which brought the research university back into the core of Midtown, has been credited with attracting innovation labs and corporate headquarters. The second phase, to be called Coda, will include office space for university research, corporations, startups and a high-tech data center.

Central Perimeter growth

In Dunwoody, State Farm’s expansion is underway with the first of several towers along Hammond Drive, and a Boston development firm unveiled development plans for what’s known as the adjacent High Street tract. Developers gave started a planned tower at Perimeter Summit in Brookhaven. Mercedes-Benz recently started its U.S. headquarters in Sandy Springs, and Dunwoody officials, meanwhile, also are working to design a new connector road that would link I-285 to the new State Farm campus.


The first wave of a web of managed toll lanes is under construction along I-75/I-575 northwest of Atlanta and on I-75 south of the city. The state soon will begin its largest-ever road project, the remake of the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange. Voters in the city of Atlanta in November approved a sales tax program for roads and a half-penny sales tax in the city of Atlanta for a $2.5 billion expansion of MARTA. Fulton who live outside the city of Atlanta, meanwhile, approved a five-year road and bridge initiative.  And don’t forget the MARTA expansion into Clayton County or the agency’s moves into transit-oriented development.

Suburban town centers

Many metro cities want to become more urban. Sandy Springs, Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Peachtree Corners, Sugar Hill, Duluth, Suwanee, Norcross, Lawrenceville and Lilburn are among the metro cities investing in projects to expand or create city centers in order to help encourage private development.

Fort McPherson

Filmmaker Tyler Perry now controls most of the former Army post south of downtown and is planning a studio facility on 330 acres. A civilian authority has about 145 acres for potential future development of retail, residences, office space and other uses.

Fort Gillem

Developers plan a logistics center and have a major tenant, gorcery giant Kroger, for the former Army post in Forest Park. The planned industrial park is a major part of Clayton County, Morrow and Forest Park's job creation efforts in the wake of a military streamlining process that resulted in the post's closure.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

A development team has been selected to build an InterContinental hotel at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The contract also includes a travel plaza and commercial development that is part of the city's plan to stimulate development near the world's busiest airport. In November, the development team said additional hotel development could be part of the program. The airport, which just set a record by handling more than 100 million passengers in 2015, also has its own roster or projects including enlarged parking decks and terminal improvements. It also intends to draw up a development plan for airport-owned real estate. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance is developing a strategic vision for the airport region. Porsche recently opened its North American headquarters and test track northeast of the airport, and construction has started on another hotel near the Georgia International Convention Center.

Atlanta Beltline

Construction has started on the western leg of the Beltline. That leg will provide a big test of whether the concept can stimulate redevelopment the way it has along the Eastside trail near Ponce City Market. Construction also is expected soon for an extension of the Eastside portions, and Atlanta Beltline Inc. is studying streetcar extensions to the popular trail.  The city's sales tax referendum for MARTA could include the introduction of rail transit on the Beltline.

City of Atlanta properties

The city is selling underperforming real estate, and two of the highest-profile projects are Underground Atlanta and the city's Civic Center. Developers in both places plan lively mixes of retail and residences, and the Civic Center site also calls for offices. But this fall, Mayor Kasim Reed announced plans to halt a plan to sell the Civic Center to a Texas developer. The property will likely be re-bid in the future.

General Motors site

Atlanta developer The Integral Group and its partners have outlined an ambitious vision including a network of streets and parks that would combine with residences, retail and office space to create a new downtown for Doraville. A film studio opened on the property this year and the city and developers are at work crafting an incentive structure to create a public-private partnership to fund needed infrastructure improvements.

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