Beltline integration is the primary goal of a new mixed-use project that had its ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday in the bustling Krog Street area.

Junction Krog District, a six-story development at the corner of Irwin Street and Auburn Avenue, is planned to bring new restaurants, office space and a public gathering space along the Beltline’s eastside trail. Portman Holdings, the developer of the $85 million project, said its focal point is its 7,000-square-foot public porch on the ground floor, which is supposed to become the area’s next hip hangout spot.

“The point is to keep the porch fun and active for everybody and a place where folks want to hang out that live here, that walk here,” Mike Greene, Portman’s vice president of development, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “... Outdoor spaces can feel so vacant sometimes if they’re not activated, so that’s our goal.”

Located near the popular Krog Street Market, the Portman project will include 130,000 square feet of office space, multiple balconies and three restaurants. While tenants haven’t been finalized, Greene said the restaurants will likely include a coffee or beverage spot in the main lobby in addition to a pop-up kiosk for snacks, alcoholic beverages or desserts, both of which will primarily serve Beltline users. The public area will also incorporate art, such as murals and sculptures.

Portman purchased the 1.4-acre property for $5.5 million in 2018 with plans to build a 200-room boutique hotel, but Greene said they pivoted due to COVID-19′s lingering effects on Atlanta’s hospitality industry. Junction Krog District gets its name from the property’s prior use as a train refurbishing center. A train junction matched the developer’s goal of Beltline connectivity.

“It’s all about people at the end of the day, so having a design that allows for people to connect with each other, it speaks our language,” said Clyde Higgs, president and CEO of Atlanta Beltline Inc.

The project is expected to be complete by 2023.

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