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Developer adjusts design of downtown project to reflect COVID-19

ajc.com

Credit: Courtesy of Newport

Credit: Courtesy of Newport

The coronavirus is forcing everyone to change their lifestyles, from families to developers. That means more space for people to spread out, bigger and more numerous elevators, and room for outdoor activities like dining out.

German developer Newport this week issued new renderings with virus-inspired changes for its $100 million redevelopment of the 222 Mitchell Street building. Construction will begin early next year and could be finished by 2022.

It is part of Newport’s plan to remake multiple holdings in this shabby area of the city into an attractive area for residents and businesses. Their holdings are next to another proposed development that also promises to help remake the old heart of downtown. CIM Group plans to redevelop the nearby Gulch site, a collection of 40 acres of parking lots and railroad lines, into a $5 billion mixed-use development.

About three-quarters of Newport’s Mitchell street building will be converted to office space. The remainder will be retail. The company altered its design after COVID hit in March, adding more and larger elevators to the 290,000-square-foot building to meet the expected demand for a less-dense gathering of workers and shoppers. It added outdoor seating areas to restaurant space.

A German developer plans to convert the 222 Mitchell Street building, located south of downtown, into offices and retail space. The South DWNTN project is located near The Gulch and CNN Center.
A German developer plans to convert the 222 Mitchell Street building, located south of downtown, into offices and retail space. The South DWNTN project is located near The Gulch and CNN Center.

Credit: Courtesy of Newport

Credit: Courtesy of Newport

The developer also adjusted the design to allow office tenants create separate entrance doors and self-contained lobbies. They expect some tenants will want to give workers extra space to social distance, said April Stammel, senior vice president at Newport.

“In the light of our current environment with COVID, the needs of office and retail are quickly changing,” she said.

Newport will retain many of the building’s historic architectural features. The property comprises three separate structures — the original 1909 building and two 1950s-era buildings that C&S Bank used for an operations facility.

The building’s early 20th century and mid-century modern features will appeal to young professionals, said Brooke Dewey, executive vice president at JLL, which is managing the office leasing. The property is within walking distance of thousands of government and courthouse jobs, and will add top-tier office space the neighborhood lacks.

Newport is calling its master plan to develop the Mitchell Street building and other holdings South DWNTN. Since 2016, the company has acquired 48 buildings in the neighborhood and four acres of mostly unused surface parking lots, which could be used for new buildings. The area now contains dozens of dilapidated brick buildings, many of which are vacant or occupied by cut-rate retailers.

Developers have overlooked the neighborhood for years, but it contains many historic buildings that remain in good condition and include distinctive design features, Dewey said. It’s also near several MARTA rail stops, Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena.

“This is the epicenter of historic Atlanta and they’ve acquired a bunch of buildings that have some really cool features,” Dewey said.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the development also would include residential units.