Hartsfield-Jackson hotel project faces more delays

A rendering of the new design for the hotel to be built next to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Source: Majestic Realty Co.
A rendering of the new design for the hotel to be built next to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Source: Majestic Realty Co.

Plans to build a Hilton hotel steps away from the domestic terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are being delayed again, this time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The developer of the hotel has asked for an extension of the due diligence period to allow it more time to address the challenges from the “continuous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the financial, hospitality and travel industries," according to a statement from Hartsfield-Jackson. Air travel is still down more than 60%, according to passenger data from the Transportation Security Administration.

Plans for constructing a hotel at the airport have been bounced around since 2014.

Over the years, the project has encountered delays and changes to the concept. Developer Majestic Carter — a team of Majestic Realty Co. and real estate firm Carter — has worked on seeking financing and approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration for the design and redesign.

Airport officials say the impact of the pandemic may lead to modifications of Majestic Carter’s plans for the hotel, and any new design will require review by government agencies.

“We are considering the challenges the hotel project is facing due to the pandemic as we work to a reasonable extension of the due diligence period,” the airport said in its written statement.

The City of Atlanta, which owns and operates the Atlanta airport, agreed to a six-month extension and is negotiating an amendment to the lease with the developer. The due diligence period had been set to expire Nov. 12, and was extended for 60 days while negotiations continue on the terms for a longer extension.

The due diligence period allows the developer time to complete land surveys and geotechnical testing and for city, state and federal agencies to review plans. It’s also when financing is secured.

Majestic declined to comment.

Majestic Carter was chosen for the contract in 2015. In 2016, then-Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed held a press conference saying construction would begin by early 2018 and be completed in 2020.

That didn’t happen.

The airport in 2017 agreed to a $500,000 annual discount on rent to the hotel developers as a concession for reducing space for the hotel by a couple of acres.

Majestic Carter originally planned to build an InterContinental hotel next to the airport, but last year developers announced it would be a Hilton. The 14-story, 541-room hotel was tentatively scheduled to open sometime in 2022.

Last year, to make way from the first stages of construction, the airport relocated shuttle pickups and closed the West economy parking lot.

Majestic Carter has received permits for land disturbance work and for the first phase of structural design. Last year, fencing was erected and pre-construction work began, including preparation for utilities.

The Atlanta City Council will have to approve extending the due diligence period to May 2021.

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