Visions pitched for Turner Field parking lots

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.

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