Atlanta receives $33 million from Centennial Yards to invest in housing, jobs

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

Atlanta has received a significant investment from the group behind the creation of a mixed-use mini-city downtown.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms accepted a large ceremonial check of $33.5 million from the Centennial Yards Company at City Hall on Thursday.

The company is a partnership between an affiliate of the California-based developer CIM Group and a group led by Atlanta Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler.

Centennial Yards will be a $5 billion, 50-acre site adjacent to the State Farm Arena and Mercedes Benz Stadium. The redevelopment will create apartments, office space, retail, dining and entertainment venues in the area previously called the Gulch, which is currently used for parking and rail lines below street level.

The ceremony comes a week after the city approved the company’s special administrative permit application, which is needed for building permits on massive projects. Centennial Yards president Brian McGowan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution “a series of milestones” have occurred to reach this moment.

“It has all the elements for tremendous success but we’re really at the very beginning of the process,” said CIM co-founder Richard Ressler.

Atlanta City Council supported the project in a 8-6 vote in 2018. It was controversial because the developers will get a financing package worth $1.9 billion in bonds and reimbursements, not including interest, through 2048. That tax revenue normally goes to the state, city, Fulton County and Atlanta Public Schools.

But supporters said the developer supported community benefits that outweigh public costs.

“This was very, very contentious, as you could imagine. It took a lot of courage for council members to stand with us on this,” Bottoms said.

The city council will draft legislation to allocate the $33.5 million to the general fund budget before the end of November, Bottoms said. Although Bottoms is not running for reelection, she said her administration will work with the council to codify the funds for the uses agreed upon in the 2018 vote.

Bottoms said the funds will support a $28 million affordable housing trust fund focused on anti-displacement and home down payment assistance. She promised to build a $2 million Center for Transportation and Logistics, which will be held at Atlanta Technical College to expand workforce training opportunities.

The mayor also vowed to launch a “guaranteed income” pilot program to give eligible families “extra help” covering food, housing, and transportation expenses.

“This is not so people can get a check and stay home,” Bottoms said.

Bottoms also said the city will create a child savings account program to give young children a “one time seed deposit to start a bank account” in an effort “build positive lifelong financial habits.”

Finally, Bottoms said the project will generate an additional $12 million in economic development to create a small business hub and a local hiring program.

Brigitte Broyard, a CIM associate vice president and EBO manager, said the project will also support female and minority-owned small businesses by giving those companies 25% of the entry level jobs for construction and 10% of all construction jobs.

“This … is going to create equity and and inclusion opportunities for diverse companies to the tune of about $2 billion,” said Ernest Ellis, greater Atlanta chapter president of the National Association of Minority Contractors.

“I have not seen a project like this come — not even to concept— but to reality.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters J.D. Capelouto, Andy Peters and J. Scott Trubey contributed to this article.