Development proposals for two MARTA stations fall through

The MARTA board of directors voted to rescind plans to move forward on a proposal by Cousins Properties and Integral Group for a 3 million-square-foot mixed-use development at its Arts Center station in Midtown.  (AJC file photo by REANN HUBER/REANN.HUBER@AJC.COM)

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The MARTA board of directors voted to rescind plans to move forward on a proposal by Cousins Properties and Integral Group for a 3 million-square-foot mixed-use development at its Arts Center station in Midtown. (AJC file photo by REANN HUBER/REANN.HUBER@AJC.COM)

Agency says it will seek new plans for Arts Center, Peachtree Center

MARTA’s plans to encourage development around transit stations took a big hit Thursday when the agency rescinded plans to work with companies at two stations.

The MARTA board of directors rescinded plans to move forward on a proposal by Cousins Properties and Integral Group for a 3 million-square-foot mixed-use development at its Arts Center station in Midtown. The board also rescinded plans for a 45,000-square-foot development at Peachtree Center station by RD Management and Kelco/FB Wincoff LLC. Both projects had been under negotiation for years.

Jacob Vallo, MARTA’s senior director of transit-oriented development and real estate, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the projects languished for different reasons but would move forward eventually. The MARTA board authorized a new solicitation for the Arts Center project Thursday.

“We understand that not all projects work out for all parties,” Vallo said.

Thursday’s moves come as MARTA presses ahead with developments at numerous stations — part of a long-term strategy to encourage dense residential and commercial development to generate passengers for its transit service.

Mixed-use developments are under construction at the Edgewood/Candler Park and King Memorial stations. Last year MARTA and Portman Holdings announced plans for a massive commercial development at North Avenue station.

MARTA is preparing to seek proposals for developments at its Bankhead and Five Points stations. And developments at numerous other stations are in various stages of planning.

The Arts Center project would be one of the biggest MARTA developments. Cousins and Integral proposed a combination of residential, retail, office and hotel buildings above the station. Negotiations on the specifics began in 2016, and Vallo said the specifics changed over time. But negotiations never led to a final agreement.

“Both parties felt fatigued with time that had passed” and believed it was “necessary to move on,” he said.

Atlanta-based Cousins Properties issued a statement about the project Thursday.

“The timing of the project relative to our other development efforts in Midtown was not a fit at this time,” the company said. “We value our relationship with MARTA and look forward to working with them in the future.”

Two years ago Cousins announced a merger with Dallas-based TIER REIT, a rival developer. Cousins’ Atlanta holdings include the Promenade, the NCR headquarters and the new Norfolk Southern headquarters — all in Midtown.

Vallo expects plenty of interest in the new Arts Center solicitation.

“We have received a lot of unsolicited interest in Arts Center development in recent years,” he said. “With Midtown as hot as it is, we want to turn right back around” and seek proposals.

At Peachtree Center station, New York-based RD Management had proposed a mix of residential and commercial space. Negotiations began in 2018, but Vallo said MARTA has not heard from the company in two years.

“We felt like there was no longer interest on the part of the developer to move forward,” Vallo said.

RD Management did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Vallo said MARTA will seek new proposals for the Peachtree Center station, though not in the immediate future. He said the project will benefit from the planned extension of the Atlanta streetcar east to Ponce City Market.