MARTA North Avenue development takes step forward

A massive commercial development at MARTA’s North Avenue station in Midtown took a step forward Thursday.

The MARTA Board’s planning committee approved a resolution authorizing the agency to negotiate with Portman Holdings to develop 480,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet of retail, a 275-room hotel and 800 parking spaces at the station. The development also would include station improvements, including a covered bus station, space for public events and a fresh market.

Portman submitted the only response to MARTA’s request for proposals from developers. At least one board member is concerned about the lack of competition.

“In my 58 years of living, the only time I’ve seen when institutions actually get the benefits of competition is when there’s more than one bidder,” board member Roderick Edmond said at Thursday’s meeting. He cast the lone vote against the resolution.

If the full board approves the resolution next week, MARTA must still negotiate details of the development. Agency officials expect to brief the board on the progress of those negotiations within 60 to 90 days.

If it comes to pass, the North Avenue project would be Portman’s latest development in Midtown. The company’s projects in the area include Coda at Tech Square and the Anthem Technology Center – both completed – and the Anthem II development, expected to open next spring.

MARTA has encouraged “transit-oriented development” around its stations to generate revenue and passengers for its rail and bus services.