Massive Atlanta project aimed at Amazon HQ2 to have hearing

A massive project designed to fill part of downtown Atlanta’s Gulch with enough office space for Amazon’s second headquarters project is scheduled for a public meeting on Thursday morning.

Developer CIM Group is expected to present their proposal to a development review committee meeting for Special Public Interest District 1, which represents downtown. The meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. at the offices of Central Atlanta Progress at 84 Walton Street.

The meeting will not include comments from the public, but will involve questioning by the board of the developer.

CIM is seeking a special administrative permit that requests variances from current city requirements that mainly relate to project aesthetics. The conceptual plan calls for more than 9 million square feet of office space, 1 million square feet of retail and restaurant space, 1,000 residences and 1,500 hotel rooms.

It’s an enormous undertaking rivaling in scope downtown’s Peachtree Center development.

CIM’s project would rise on 27 acres in the Gulch, the weedy tangle of parking lots and rail lines that stretches from Philips Arena and CNN Center to north and the Richard B. Russell Federal Courthouse to the south. The site is bordered by Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the west and the Five Points MARTA station to the east.

It’s a project clearly aiming for the attention of Amazon as the e-commerce giant scours North America for a new second headquarters that could one day employ more than 50,000 workers.

Last week, Amazon named Atlanta as one of 20 communities on its shortlist for the project.

The state hand-delivered its proposal for Amazon’s “HQ2″ Oct. 19, and included the Gulch and dozens of other potential development sites around the metro area.

Amazon is seeking 8 million square feet of office space by 2027, and CIM’s development timeline anticipates completion that same year.

In November 2016, the Atlanta Hawks and then-Mayor Kasim Reed announced a deal for a $192.5 million overhaul of Philips Arena, which includes $142.5 million in public funds. As part of the project, Reed promised a major redevelopment would come to downtown.

CIM was founded by Richard Ressler, the brother of Hawks lead owner Tony Ressler.

The team, CIM and city officials have discussed a downtown entertainment district for a few years. It would bring a mix of uses and include shopping and dining similar to L.A. Live outside Staples Center in Los Angeles or The Battery Atlanta outside the Braves’ SunTrust Park.

But the CIM concept is considerably larger.

Documents submitted to regional planners and first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution show the Gulch land carved into 18 parcels. The concept included at least nine skyscrapers that will be 225 feet or higher, including one rising to 500 feet or about 40 stories, according to documents filed with the Atlanta Regional Commission.

CIM’s plans divide the site with a grid of new streets or “driveways,” and the project also would create new entryways to the Five Points MARTA station and the one that serves Philips Arena and CNN Center.

CIM, meanwhile, has been an active buyer downtown. This summer, a company affiliate acquired south downtown’s Norfolk Southern complex, an aging stretch of buildings near the federal courthouse. The acquisition sparked speculation of a far broader redevelopment vision as the Norfolk Southern site is about three-fourths of a mile from Philips Arena.

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