Development partners with ties to the Atlanta Hawks are in talks to acquire a key building vital to the redevelopment of south downtown and the Gulch, four people familiar with the matter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The people said an affiliate of Los Angeles-based CIM Group wants to acquire the former Norfolk Southern railroad building at Spring and Nelson streets, a move that offers a glimpse into an expanding, but still secretive plan by the partners to revitalize the city’s core.
It’s unclear when or if a deal for the building will close.
The eight-story complex is more than a mile walk south of the arena near the Richard B. Russell Federal Building, suggesting the franchise’s partners have a more expansive real estate footprint in mind than just the immediate area of Philips Arena.
A spokeswoman for Norfolk Southern declined to comment, citing policy on real estate matters.
CIM Group founder Richard Ressler did not immediately return messages seeking comment. Ressler is the brother of Hawks lead owner Tony Ressler.
Attempts to contact a Hawks representative were not immediately successful.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said a deal to overhaul Philips Arena would lead to downtown redevelopment.
CIM’s plans for the massive building aren’t clear, but the building could be prime for a Ponce City Market-style rehab into loft office space, retail and residences.
The old Norfolk Southern building is seen as an anchor for redevelopment of south downtown.
The railroad company quietly solicited requests for proposals for the building, as well as adjacent land and two brick buildings south of the main complex across Peters Street.
German developer Newport US RE is buying up blocks of historic buildings and land downtown, and it is negotiating to purchase the nearby former C&S Bank headquarters building on Mitchell Street. The firm at one point also had interest in the Norfolk Southern property.
A South Carolina group, meanwhile, closed in March on its purchase of Underground Atlanta with plans to convert the struggling mall into a mix of retail and apartments.
The Hawks and the city of Atlanta recently completed a deal for a $192.5 million overhaul of Philips Arena, including $142.5 million in public financing.
In March 2016, amid arena negotiations, the AJC first reported the team’s discussions with the city about an entertainment district and mixed-use development near Philips. In June, the AJC first reported the Hawks and their partners were in advanced discussions with key land owners, including the city and Norfolk Southern, to acquire or take on development rights to parcels in and around the Gulch.
But at the time, it wasn’t clear which parcels the partners had in their sights.
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