NEW: Portman, Georgia Tech celebrate opening of Tech Square’s Coda

Georgia Tech and developer Portman Holdings on Thursday celebrated the opening of Coda, the latest addition to Midtown’s Technology Square, hailing the tower as an epicenter for new ideas and technologies.

The $375 million L-shaped tower at Spring and 4th streets in Atlanta is designed to attract corporations and serve the high-performance computing needs of researchers at Georgia Tech and partner companies. It also marks the second phase of Technology Square, the eastward expansion of Georgia Tech’s campus across the Downtown Connector, which has emerged as a magnet for corporations.

In the years since Coda was announced, NCR opened its Midtown headquarters and health care giant Anthem, the parent of Blue Cross Blue Shield, announced plans to occupy two future Portman towers a block south of Technology Square. Norfolk Southern and developer Cousins Properties recently started construction nearby on the railroad giant's new corporate home.

Hundreds of student housing units also have sprouted in recent years on the blocks surrounding Tech Square.

The 21-story Coda features a grand piazza through its center where a food hall and outdoor furniture will beckon students, faculty and tech company workers to mingle. Mini soccer pitches grace the roof of its wings. And a spiral staircase, which links the "Collaboration Core" — a series of six three-story vertical atriums connecting the wings — is believed to be the longest continuous helical staircase in the world.

Coda will help Atlanta compete not only for investments by major corporations but for talent, said Eloisa Klementich, the CEO of Invest Atlanta, the city’s development agency.

“The competition for the smartest and most creative is real,” she said.

What was once the site of dreary parking lots 15 years ago is "now the premiere innovation hub in the Southeast," Georgia Tech President G.P. "Bud" Peterson said.

Georgia Tech and private sector tenants, including Keysight Technologies and the co-working real estate company WeWork, started to move in weeks ago.

The development also included about $15 million in tax breaks provided by the city.

As the research university and business leaders celebrated Coda’s opening, Georgia Tech’s third phase of Technology Square is soon to take shape.

The fiscal year 2020 budget for the University System of Georgia includes $4.3 million in planning and design funds for Phase 3. Georgia Tech also plans to demolish two small office buildings at 828 and 830 West Peachtree Street on the northeastern end of Tech Square.

The buildings were acquired in 2006 and intended for future campus expansion.