The LEED-certified garage, which will begin construction later this year, comes as Zoo Atlanta had just shy of 1 million visitors last year, close to its peak of 1 million-plus guests in 2000 when pandas Lun Lun and Yang Yang first arrived. The zoo also is investing close to $100 million in an expansion of its footprint expected to be complete in 2019.
Grant Park and other areas near Turner Field could also see more foot traffic in the years to come as Georgia State University and developer Carter & Associates plan a $130 million mixed-use redevelopment of the former home of the Atlanta Braves.
“The existing parking facilities do not serve the park, the zoo or the neighborhood,” Reed said. “We know we will need additional capacity at the zoo as it becomes a more popular attraction.”
Reed said the restaurant will offer regional food “in a sit-down setting,” but did not offer other details. The garage also will include security cameras linked with the city’s video surveillance to provide safety, an issue important to the community.
The Atlanta City Council in March agreed to float more than $30 million in bonds for the project.
City Councilwoman Carla Smith, who represents the area, said at the March meeting that the idea of a pay lot could put the kibosh on the bad habits of some zoo visitors. She said some visitors leave behind trash after having cookouts and food in the free lot, taking up spaces that others could use to park their vehicles
“We kind of take free stuff for granted and we are not respectful,” she said