Underground Atlanta to get denser and taller, renderings suggest

Underground Atlanta looks like it’s going high-rise.

New renderings of the project by South Carolina developer WRS show two glass and steel towers and mid-rise structures over a grocery store and the existing tiered downtown shopping mall.

The renderings on WRS’ website, which Creative Loafing published earlier this week, show a far denser development than the shopping center as it currently stands. There’s also, as CL points out, a ton of parking depicted at a site next to the Five Points MARTA station.

A message left for WRS executives on Tuesday was not immediately returned.

The project would appear to have a boulevard feel to it. One of the renderings has the curious inclusion of what appears to be a poster for the classic rock band or film The Doors.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced plans in December 2014 to sell Underground to WRS for $25.75 million. The developers plan apartments, improved retail and a downtown grocery store for an area that sorely needs one.

The development team had hoped to start construction this year but closing of the transaction has been delayed over parking challenges.

Reed recently told a City Council committee the project grew over time, requiring more parking than initially planned.

The lack of parking led to a complicated and controversial land swap between the city and the state of Georgia for downtown land and parking controlled by the state. In exchange, the state will take over Bobby Jones Golf Course in Buckhead and convert it a nine-hold reversible course and into a home for college golf programs and a state Golf Hall of Fame.

Reed has championed the sale as a way to help revitalize downtown and bring much needed services, such as the grocery store, to the area.

Underground has a been an $8 million a year financial burden for the city and selling the mall is part of Reed’s plans to clean up the city’s balance sheet and to help pay for infrastructure costs.

Underground was a hub of Atlanta’s nightlife scene in the 1970s before falling out of favor. It was reborn in the late 1980s as a shopping center, opening to rave reviews. But the center fell out of favor again and attendance declined, particularly after the World of Coca-Cola left for Centennial Olympic Park last decade.

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