Publix opens new Summerhill store in a former Turner Field parking lot

Grocery store rises above asphalt outside the former Atlanta Braves stadium
Atlanta city officials, including Mayor Andre Dickens, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a Publix in Summerhill on June 21, 2023.

Credit: Courtesy photo

Credit: Courtesy photo

Atlanta city officials, including Mayor Andre Dickens, attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a Publix in Summerhill on June 21, 2023.

The parking lot where millions of baseball fans parked for decades to attend Atlanta Braves games is now a critical food option for one of Atlanta’s fastest-changing neighborhoods.

Publix opened a location in Summerhill, south of downtown, on Wednesday morning, providing fresh food access to an area that’s lacked a grocer for generations. Located at 572 Hank Aaron Dr., the store acts as a capstone to the neighborhood’s rapid transformation from Turner Field into a mixed-use district with hundreds of apartments, restaurants and retail shops. Georgia State University assumed the former Turner Field, turning it into a football stadium and the university has also built a new 8,000-seat convocation center just a few blocks north along Georgia Avenue.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens ushered dozens of customers into the store after cutting a grand opening ribbon Wednesday, adding that the neighborhood has been starved of basic necessities like groceries for too long. John Helton, the president of Organized Neighbors of Summerhill, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he’s been waiting for this day for decades.

“When I moved in 22 years ago, there were great promises of all the wonderful things to come very soon,” Helton said. “And then for all kinds of reasons — economic, political — we’ve just been stagnant for years and years.”

This is the exterior of the new Publix at Summerhill, which opened June 21, 2023.

Credit: Photos courtesy Brandon Amato on behalf of Carter

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Credit: Photos courtesy Brandon Amato on behalf of Carter

The 50,000-square-foot grocery store will be joined by 35,000 square feet of ancillary restaurants and retail, including a Piedmont Urgent Care by WellStreet that’s scheduled to open in July. While the neighborhood currently lacks a dedicated urgent treatment center, Summerhill was the original home of Piedmont Hospital in 1905 before it moved to Buckhead in 1957.

The Braves announced in 2013 that the team would leave the historic — albeit long-neglected and underinvested — neighborhood and build a new ballpark and mixed-use entertainment district in Cobb County. Under then-Mayor Kasim Reed, the city along with the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority, sought developers to transform the area.

Georgia State and a private development team including Atlanta-based Carter, K. King & Company and Healey Weatherholtz Properties were the winning partners selected to chart the future of the former Turner Field site and the surrounding sea of parking lots.

Scott Taylor, Carter’s CEO and president, said $850 million of projects have already been completed or are currently in progress.

Branch Properties, an Atlanta-based developer that specializes in grocery store-anchored projects, was brought on to assist with the Publix. Brett Horowitz, a partner with Branch, said the new store will act as the primary grocer for Summerhill and several other nearby neighborhoods south of I-20, such as Mechanicsville, Peoplestown and Grant Park.

Horowitz added that he expects other urban food deserts undergoing revitalization efforts to attract grocery stores as they build more density.

“The grocers follow the rooftops,” he said. “It’s not vice versa usually, where they put their anchor down and let the rooftops come to them.”

In addition to new food access, the neighborhood will soon have additional transportation options. MARTA broke ground last week on the Summerhill Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) line, which connect the Atlanta Beltline Southside Trail to the Five Points MARTA station through an electric bus route. It’s expected to be completed by summer 2025.