Developers chosen to give old Georgia Dome site a mixed-use makeover

Group that worked on the Braves’ Battery development to helm redo of 11-acre Home Depot Backyard greenspace near Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Panthers fan Benjamin Willis and Falcons fan Steven Lance (center) are seen playing corn hole by the Home Depot Backyard before the Falcons season opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Atlanta.
Miguel Martinz/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Panthers fan Benjamin Willis and Falcons fan Steven Lance (center) are seen playing corn hole by the Home Depot Backyard before the Falcons season opener against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023, in Atlanta. Miguel Martinz/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

The development team behind The Battery in Cobb County has been selected to build an entertainment district on the 11-acre lawn in the shadow of Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) placed a public call in April seeking developers to reimagine land that was once home to the Georgia Dome and is currently known as the Home Depot Backyard in downtown Atlanta. The authority favors a potential entertainment complex to complement downtown’s roster of sports and event venues. A team consisting of Pope & Land Real Estate, Fuqua Development and Nelson Worldwide were selected among the applicants, according to the state’s procurement registry.

The team of finalists, which was first reported by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Pope & Land and Fuqua are both based in Atlanta, while Nelson’s headquarters is in Minneapolis.

The state owned and operated GWCCA told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in April that the public bid, called a request for qualifications, was an “exploration process” to evaluate the best use for the Home Depot Backyard’s greenspace. It’s top priority would be adding new attractions and connectivity between Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the 1.5-million square foot congress center and the newly opened Signia by Hilton high-rise hotel.

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

No budget was set for the project, and the development’s scope was estimated to span 250,000 square feet. GWCCA said Tuesday morning it is confident the selected development team “will bring a transformative and vibrant entertainment experience to our campus.”

“We will utilize the time ahead to put an agreement in place and plan to explore and define the types of entertainment and amenities that will best serve our diverse audience and enrich the GWCCA campus,” the authority said.

Opened in 2018, the Home Depot Backyard is used as flexible space for pop-up events throughout the year, including many centered around the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United and other events taking place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

While hospitality was mentioned in the request for qualifications, it did not mention any residential or office components, both real estate segments that have gotten a lot of focus in downtown.

Separate from the Home Depot Backyard redevelopment plan, the GWCCA in May unveiled a new master plan consisting of more than $1 billion in potential projects, including greenspace, mixed-use development and new pedestrian infrastructure.

Most of that potential development focused on 20 acres of parking lots north and west of the convention center, which was earmarked for potential live-work-play community projects. Like the Home Depot Backyard vision, the projects are theoretical and financing plans have not been set.

Drone aerial photos of the Georgia World Congress Center shot on Friday, May 3, 2024 including parking lots that could be redeveloped.   (Ben Gray / Ben@BenGray.com)

Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

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Credit: Ben Gray for the AJC

GWCCA Executive Director Frank Poe told the AJC in May that he wants his authority to add to the wave of investment and ambitious projects gaining steam across downtown, including the $5 billion Centennial Yards on the doorstep of the convention center.

“We don’t want to be chasing after it,” Poe said of oncoming downtown development. “We want to be part of the conversation and forward-looking with the property we control.”


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.