Atlanta’s $5 billion Gulch redevelopment made progress this week as officials celebrated the beginning of construction for the project’s first and largest buildings.

The Centennial Yards Company hosted a groundbreaking Thursday ahead of the work to build two high-rise towers across the street from Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the State Farm Arena.

One of them, Anthem Hotel Atlanta, will be an 18 stories building with 292 rooms, three food and beverage outlets, and an 8,000 square foot ballroom and pool deck featuring an event lawn for large events. The other will be an 18-story apartment tower with 304 units supported by ground-floor food and beverage outlets.

Between those two buildings will be 21,000 square feet of ground-level retail for residents and visitors.

Brigitte Broyard, Centennial’s vice president of business and workforce opportunity, said both towers will be ready when the World Cup comes to Atlanta in 2026.

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

The milestone moment comes one year after Centennial Yards signed the development agreement with the city of Atlanta.

For decades now, city leaders have tried to redevelop 50-acres of parking lots and rail lines that lay 40 feet below street level and surrounding viaducts, including the bridges for Ted Turner, Martin Luther King Jr. and Centennial Olympic Park drives. In 2018, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms worked with Atlanta City Council to green light $1.9 billion in public funds to finance the project. It was a controversial public investment at the time.

But on Thursday, several current and former elected officials, including former mayors Bill Campbell and Andrew Young, attended the event to show support.

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

“When (U.S. Ambassador Young) comes to visit us at the office, he makes sure to tell us that the Gulch has been a hole in his heart since he ran for mayor,” Broyard said. “So now we have this great responsibility to fill this hole.

Construction of the two high-rise buildings is slated for completion in 2025. Broyard also said they are planning to start the construction of a 60-unit residential building, and an additional 234-unit building, at two other sites in downtown Atlanta.

Centennial Yards is a partnership between California developer CIM Group and a group led by Atlanta Hawks owners Tony Ressler and NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill. Their plan is to develop 8 million square feet of buildings for residential and commercial use.

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

The developers agreed to reserve 20% of the project’s residential units for affordable housing for 99 years. The developers also promised to provide 38% of the project’s contracts to female and minority-owned local businesses.

The developers thus far have converted a railroad building into 162 loft-style apartments, where 15% of the units are rented to people making under 80% of the area median income, which is $77,120 for a family of four in metro Atlanta.

Additionally, the developers invested $28 million into Atlanta’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, $2 million for workforce training, $12 million for economic development, and another $12 million to build a new fire station in this mini-city.

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

Credit: arvin.temkar@ajc.com

H.J. Russell & Company CEO Michael Russell called Centennial Yards a catalytic development for the city. Atlanta Hawks Vice Chairman Hill said 25 prominent Black leaders in the community have committed billions of equity dollars into the project, which he said is slated to create billions of dollars for Black, minority and women-owned businesses. Hill also said it will provide job training, mentorship, workforce and affordable housing, and facilities for veteran police and first responders.

“Thank you to the Resslers, CIM, Centennial Yards Company, Invest Atlanta, and countless others that are involved in what will be the largest and most inclusive transformative project in Atlanta for generations,” said Mayor Andre Dickens. “This is just the beginning and I can’t wait to see what’s next.”