Atlanta Housing selects developers for mixed-use plan at civic center

April 15, 2022 Atlanta - Aerial photograph shows Atlanta Civic Center on Friday, April 15, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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April 15, 2022 Atlanta - Aerial photograph shows Atlanta Civic Center on Friday, April 15, 2022. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

The Atlanta Housing Authority has decided to engage in negotiations with developers Tishman Speyer and H. J. Russell & Company to build a mixed-use community on the site of the city’s massive, aging civic center.

AHA, which owns the land, has wanted for years to build a project on the 19 acres that would incorporate affordable and market-rate housing, with land set aside for commercial property. The agency also wants to preserve the site’s plaza and performing arts center.

After two hours in closed-door executive session on Wednesday, Atlanta Housing board members emerged and voted to select the two companies to redevelop about 15 acres of the land for housing and commercial property. The companies will also focus on potential uses of the arts center and the plaza, according to a draft of the Atlanta Housing resolution.

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A screenshot of the renderings of Atlanta Civic Center site. The Atlanta Housing Authority wants to redevelop the site to build affordable housing on the majority of the land. (Atlanta Housing Authority)

Credit: Atlanta Housing Authority

A screenshot of the renderings of Atlanta Civic Center site. The Atlanta Housing Authority wants to redevelop the site to build affordable housing on the majority of the land. (Atlanta Housing Authority)

Credit: Atlanta Housing Authority

Combined ShapeCaption
A screenshot of the renderings of Atlanta Civic Center site. The Atlanta Housing Authority wants to redevelop the site to build affordable housing on the majority of the land. (Atlanta Housing Authority)

Credit: Atlanta Housing Authority

Credit: Atlanta Housing Authority

Trish O’Connell, Atlanta Housing’s deputy chief real estate officer, said the companies submitted a joint proposal that includes a large retail space and 1,300 housing units. More than 400 of those units would be affordable at 100% of the Atlanta metro area’s median income, which is $86,200 for a family of four, according to the city.

“This was a historic vote,” said Atlanta Housing President and CEO Eugene Jones.

The selections come as a milestone for Atlanta, after officials spent eight years seeking someone to bring their vision to fruition.

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Atlanta Housing Authority members listen to Trish O'Connell, Deputy Chief Real Estate Officer, to the proposal to build affordable housing at the Civic Center grounds during the monthly board meeting at the Atlanta Housing Authority office on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Atlanta Housing Authority members listen to Trish O'Connell, Deputy Chief Real Estate Officer, to the proposal to build affordable housing at the Civic Center grounds during the monthly board meeting at the Atlanta Housing Authority office on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Housing Authority members listen to Trish O'Connell, Deputy Chief Real Estate Officer, to the proposal to build affordable housing at the Civic Center grounds during the monthly board meeting at the Atlanta Housing Authority office on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

City officials closed the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center in 2014. Then-Mayor Kasim Reed announced a year later that Houston developer Weingarten Realty wanted to buy the site from the city to perform the $300 million project. But the deal fell through in 2016.

Atlanta Housing later purchased the property for $31 million in 2017. The housing agency wanted to partner with Weingarten, but that plan failed as well.

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Those mishaps left Atlanta with a money drainer in a prime location for development. The site sits at Piedmont Avenue and Ralph McGill Boulevard near Georgia Power’s headquarters at the intersection of downtown and Midtown. It’s near the Civic Center MARTA station and several new apartments.

Last month, Jones said the housing board was considering five proposals for the site. Although the agency has not disclosed additional details about the proposals, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained letters showing Fulton County officials pitched the creation of a Grammy Museum within the broader mixed-use plan.

New board member Duriya Farooqui said the board spent time in executive session urging Jones and the agency to maximize the potential of adding additional units into the project’s design. Jones told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the agency wants to complete the project by 2030 at a cost of $1 billion.

“We appreciate your concerns about more affordable housing to make sure that we live up to the mayor’s (goal of building) 20,000 more affordable housing units,” Jones told the board.