102715 ATLANTA: — Hawks owner Tony Ressler (from left), his son Oliver Ressler, and general manager Wes Wilcox look over Philips Arena as the team prepares to play their first regular season basketball game “home opener” against the Pistons on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / ccompton@ajc.com

Hawks, city in talks for entertainment district at Philips Arena

The Atlanta Hawks are in discussions to redevelop the area surrounding Philips Arena into a mixed-use entertainment district, multiple people with knowledge of the negotiations told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The plan, which would involve investments of hundreds of millions of dollars, could rank among the largest commercial redevelopments conceived for downtown Atlanta in a generation, according to several people who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.

The discussions are fluid and coincide with negotiations with the city over a major Philips Arena renovation, which was first reported by the AJC in October. It’s unclear when a deal could come together, though state legislation could be required to clear the way for the project.

Among the ideas under consideration is a complex similar to L.A. Live at the Staples Center in Los Angeles that would include more retail and restaurants and perhaps offices and residences, said two people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The Hawks also are using the mix of shops, offices, restaurants and residences the Braves plan next to their budding Cobb County ballpark as a model for the NBA franchise’s redevelopment plans.

The potential Hawks project — combined with CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium, the nearly $1.5 billion Falcons stadium, the College Football Hall of Fame and other attractions around Centennial Olympic Park — is aimed at cementing the western edge of downtown as one of the Southeast’s biggest entertainment draws.

Mixed-use developments next to arenas are becoming more common as a way for teams to diversify their revenue streams and as a pitch to local and state governments to support a bevy of incentives.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Kasim Reed declined to comment. The Hawks cited in a statement a policy of declining to comment on potential development deals.

“As we have previously stated, we are working with the city on tenant improvements to Philips Arena and its environs,” the team said in the statement.

The Hawks are said to have their eyes on a number of downtown properties near the park and Philips Arena, including a portion of the tangle of parking lots and rail lines in downtown known as The Gulch, two of the people said.

Earlier this year, Reed said during a meeting with the AJC’s editorial board the proposed renovations of Philips Arena could total $200 million to $300 million, and that the city could afford to finance $100 million to $150 million in public money.

Click here to read the full story at MyAJC.com, or check out the Tuesday print edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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