Years after being sold by the city to private developers, Underground Atlanta remains years away from promised redevelopment.

A complete revamp of the downtown landmark is set for 2025, the property's general manager Craig Waters told residents at the lightly attended meeting Thursday.

Owned by South Carolina-based developers WRS Inc, the 12-acre property will include a hotel, three residential units — including one designated for affordable housing — and retailers.

January 9, 2020 Atlanta - Picture shows Underground Atlanta on Thursday, January 9, 2020. South Carolina-based WRS acquired Underground Atlanta in March 2018 with plans to build a $300 million blend of apartments, student housing and retail. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
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January 9, 2020 Atlanta - Picture shows Underground Atlanta on Thursday, January 9, 2020. South Carolina-based WRS acquired Underground Atlanta in March 2018 with plans to build a $300 million blend of apartments, student housing and retail. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

The Yotel Hotel, a 350-room building with “cruise ship” like rooms was initially slated for a 2022 opening but has been pushed back to 2023. Specifics on how many rooms the residential buildings will have were not provided.

The project has seen many delays due to permitting and zoning issues, causing a shift in construction start times, Waters said.

Atlanta entered talks to sell struggling Underground Atlanta in 2014, but the $34.6 million deal didn’t close until 2017. Since then, developers have had a series of community meetings detailing their plans and a potential timeline for construction.

Waters said developers expect to spend $400 million to liven up the subterranean mall that first opened in 1969 in the Five Points area of downtown Atlanta.

VIDEO: Previous coverage of this issue

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The developer behind the massive renovation project says its about more than just redeveloping the shopping there.


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Developers are working with The Masquerade to retool the live music venue, said Waters, adding he thinks a new nightclub, Future Show Bar, will add vibrancy to the area.

A new ice cream shop, iScream, is slated to open this weekend. There are also plans for a coffee shop to open for the nearby university crowd.

“We want this to be a cool, eclectic place people can come to,” Waters said.

But even as the developer makes some headway, they still have to contend with other challenges such as crime.

Waters said the development lost a retailer due to the area’s high crime rates. Another retailer was told by its insurance company they had to install impact-resistant windows because of crime.

Underground Atlanta sits in Atlanta police Zone 5, which saw a 16% increase in crime from this time last year. Many incidents are theft, car theft and entering auto crimes.

Waters said security is tight at Underground and Atlanta police have access to their security cameras, adding he keeps in regular contact with the Atlanta Police Zone 5 commander.

“That’s our biggest thing is just staying in communication, they’re our biggest ally,” Waters said of Atlanta police.

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