MARTA and private developer Portman Holdings plan a massive public-private development at the agency’s North Avenue station in Midtown. Portman would develop 480,000 square feet of office space, 10,000 square feet for retail, a 275-room hotel and 800 parking spaces on a lot near the station, which itself would get a face-lift. (ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

MARTA plans major development at North Avenue station

MARTA and developer Portman Holdings plan a massive commercial development at the agency’s North Avenue station in Midtown.

Portman would develop 480,000 square feet of office space, plus additional retail space, a hotel and parking on a lot near the station, according to documents reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The station itself also would get a face-lift.

On Thursday the MARTA Board of Directors was supposed to consider authorizing the agency to negotiate terms of the deal with Portman. But board members delayed action on the proposal until next month to allow more time to consider it.

MARTA and Portman Holdings declined to comment after the meeting.

The proposal is MARTA’s latest effort to encourage development at its transit stations across the region — an effort the agency hopes will produce new transit customers as well as revenue at a time of declining ridership and financial trouble brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

At North Avenue, MARTA hopes to develop a parcel it owns just down the street, according to agency documents. MARTA solicited proposals from developers in the fall, and Portman Holdings — founded by legendary Atlanta architect and developer John C. Portman Jr. — submitted the lone response.

The firm has a track record of Midtown development. Among its projects: the 750,000-square-foot Coda at Tech Square, which opened a year ago; the 352,000-square-foot Anthem Technology Center office development, which opened in February; and the 310,000-square-foot Anthem II, set to open in the spring.

In addition to the 480,000 square feet of office space, the MARTA development would include 10,000 square feet for retail, a 275-room hotel and 800 parking spaces, the documents show.

The development also would include enhancements to the station itself. They include a new covered bus station with a dedicated lobby, space for public events, a dedicated fresh market area and a community meeting space.

The timetable for development is unclear, and the financial terms must be negotiated. But MARTA plans to lease ground and air rights around the station to the developer.

It’s a development strategy MARTA has embraced for years. To date, it has completed or planned transit-oriented developments at 16 stations.

Two are under construction. At the Edgewood/Candler Park station, 208 multifamily units and 10,000 square feet of office/retail space are set for completion in fall 2021. At King Memorial, 300 multifamily units and 10,000 square feet of commercial space are set to open in early 2022.

MARTA is also in negotiations for developments at the Peachtree Center and Arts Center stations.

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