New renderings of Atlanta’s landmark CNN Center, which was recently rebranded as “The Center,” show an idyllic vision of a thriving gathering spot connecting downtown’s largest attractions.

The building’s vast atriums, which today are mostly empty, are shown filled with passersby perusing restaurants and gathering for drinks. What’s now often a drab dead-zone of concrete between State Farm Arena and The Center is envisioned as a “Hawks Plaza,” boasting an expansive scoreboard and bustling sports bars.

The new marketing materials were recently posted online in hopes of attracting tenants to the reimagined CNN Center, one of Atlanta’s most high-profile revitalization projects that’s helmed by the building’s owners, CP Group and Rialto Capital Management. The two Florida-based real estate firms are tasked with rethinking the longtime home of the country’s first 24-hour news network after the company vacated its offices to move to Midtown — taking its iconic red-and-white CNN sign with it.

 Crew workers were seen removing the iconic CNN sign from the CNN Center downtown on Monday, March 2024. The famous symbol will be refurbished and will find its new home at the Techwood campus by the Warner Brothers studios in Midtown.
Miguel Martinez /miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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Credit: Miguel Martinez

The Center sits on the doorstep of State Farm Arena and on the edge of Centennial Yards, the $5 billion redevelopment of downtown’s Gulch, the tangle of rail lines and parking lots between Five Points and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The renderings show a development that leans into downtown’s sports and tourism attractions.

“When CP (Group) and Rialto execute their vision at The Center, this development will become downtown’s version of The Battery, Ponce City Market and Avalon,” said Nicole Goldsmith, a broker with CBRE in charge of recruiting office tenants to the building. “At the center of Atlanta’s entertainment core ... this will truly be a one-of-a-kind offering in Atlanta’s urban core.”

The atrium of the CNN Center is now as quiet as a library after the media company has largely pulled out of the complex.

Credit: Bill Torpy

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Credit: Bill Torpy

Credit: AJC File

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Credit: AJC File

The new renderings were posted by Atlanta-based Healey Weatherholtz Properties, which was selected to attract retail tenants. The images detail some of the makeover’s most eye-catching areas, including new retail corridors leading to State Farm Arena and Georgia World Congress Center. The renovations include 130,000 square feet of retail space in addition to 920,000 square feet of office and media production spaces. The promotional materials were first reported by Urbanize Atlanta.

Using the slogan “Find your way to The Center,” the marketing campaign tries to cement the complex’s new name into the public psyche — a difficult task for iconic buildings. Chicago’s Willis Tower is still often known as Sears Tower, while Atlantans haven’t fully given up calling Truist Plaza and Truist Park by the former bank name, SunTrust.

CNN Center wasn’t always the building’s name. It was originally the Omni Complex, developed by famed Atlanta real estate giant Tom Cousins. It contained the Omni Coliseum arena that formerly housed the Hawks and Flames, the Omni hotel, office space, a huge atrium and ice skating rink. The short-lived theme park, the World of Sid and Marty Krofft, famous for the 1960s children’s TV show ‘’H.R. Pufnstuf,” occupied a portion of the campus.

But the office space was largely empty until CNN opened its headquarters there in 1987.

CNN announced in January 2023 that it would move its Atlanta operations entirely to a new 30-acre Turner Techwood campus in Midtown, the same place where the network was founded. CNN Center had already slowly been hollowed out over the years since CNN effectively moved its headquarters to New York.

A redevelopment timeline for The Center has not been released, but its potential adds to a wave of investment taking place across downtown.

The Omni Atlanta Hotel recently underwent $15 million in renovations to refresh guest rooms, and the city is preparing to host several 2026 World Cup matches. The Centennial Yards project is also gaining traction and plans to break ground on several buildings by the end of this year.


Future of Downtown

This story is part of an occasional series by the AJC to look at the future of Atlanta’s downtown. Several high-profile developments are poised to bring billions of dollars into the city’s core while it continues to grapple with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and a challenging real estate financing market. Downtown will also soon garner international attention when the World Cup comes to Atlanta in 2026, providing a deadline for the city and downtown stakeholders to make promised improvements.