Times Square of the South Coming to Atlanta
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Times Square of the South Coming to Atlanta

Is an Atlanta Times Square possible? "In the history of the Southeast there is no other project bigger than this one. I see Centennial Yards being compared to a LA Live.” said Steve Koonin.

In addition to being the AJT’s managing publisher and interim editor, Kaylene Ladinsky is the president of Americans United With Israel.

  • Rendering - One Centennial Yards, the first ground-up tower at the Foster + Partners and Perkins & Will-designed Centennial Yards master plan in Downtown Atlanta. // Photo Credit DBOX for Centennial Yards
    Rendering - One Centennial Yards, the first ground-up tower at the Foster + Partners and Perkins & Will-designed Centennial Yards master plan in Downtown Atlanta. // Photo Credit DBOX for Centennial Yards
  • Rendering of Centennial Yards, Current photo of the property formerly known as The Gulch.
    Rendering of Centennial Yards, Current photo of the property formerly known as The Gulch.
  • Rendering - New pedestrianized routes, shared surfaces, and landscaped plazas as “a vibrant public realm that can accommodate a broad range of experiences and opportunities, while providing outdoor gathering spaces for all Atlantans.”
    Rendering - New pedestrianized routes, shared surfaces, and landscaped plazas as “a vibrant public realm that can accommodate a broad range of experiences and opportunities, while providing outdoor gathering spaces for all Atlantans.”
  • Rendering - New pedestrianized routes, shared surfaces, and landscaped plazas as “a vibrant public realm that can accommodate a broad range of experiences and opportunities, while providing outdoor gathering spaces for all Atlantans.”
    Rendering - New pedestrianized routes, shared surfaces, and landscaped plazas as “a vibrant public realm that can accommodate a broad range of experiences and opportunities, while providing outdoor gathering spaces for all Atlantans.”
  • One Centennial Yards is designed to provide open-air environments on every floor, with terraces on every level, large retractable doors on the building’s amenity floor, and landscaped rooftops. The building was designed with the post-pandemic workspace in mind, providing tenants with opportunities to gather and connect outdoors.
    One Centennial Yards is designed to provide open-air environments on every floor, with terraces on every level, large retractable doors on the building’s amenity floor, and landscaped rooftops. The building was designed with the post-pandemic workspace in mind, providing tenants with opportunities to gather and connect outdoors.
  • Rendering - Mitchell Street Residential living space for professionals, students and empty nesters.
    Rendering - Mitchell Street Residential living space for professionals, students and empty nesters.

One of the best staycation attractions in Atlanta is about to increase in size, entertainment and economic growth. For many years, the 22-acre Centennial Park, created directly after the 1996 Olympics, is a place Atlantans go to hang out for the day, play in the water sprinklers, enjoy festivals and concerts and the surrounding attractions.

On Nov. 5, 2018, the City Council voted to approve the Centennial Yards development, a master planned development that will transform the Gulch area, which is nearly 40 acres of undeveloped land, into 35 usable acres.

There will be approximately 12-15 new city blocks in the heart of Downtown Atlanta. The site will provide direct pedestrian access between State Farm Arena, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Georgia World Congress Center, CNN Center, Centennial Olympic Park and the Castleberry Hill neighborhood, including a new location to host Peach Drop on New Year’s Eve — a family-friendly “Times Square of the South.”

Rendering – New pedestrianized routes, shared surfaces, and landscaped plazas as “a vibrant public realm that can accommodate a broad range of experiences and opportunities, while providing outdoor gathering spaces for all Atlantans.”

Anchored by Centennial Park, the Centennial Park District now includes all the local attractions that surround the park: National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, Children’s Museum of Atlanta, Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, City Tours with ATL-Cruzers, SkyView Atlanta Ferris Wheel and the CNN Center, State Farm Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The iconic Omni Hotel at CNN Center looms over Centennial Park and has been a popular destination since opening its 28-story tower in 2003. Connected to the CNN Center as well as State Farm Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center, the Omni is right in the middle of the action.

The Centennial District has been a staycation staple for many residents of the Southeast for almost a decade.

Rendering – One Centennial Yards, the first ground-up tower at the Foster + Partners and Perkins & Will-designed Centennial Yards master plan in Downtown Atlanta. // Photo Credit DBOX for Centennial Yards

“In the history of the Southeast there is no other project bigger than this one. I see Centennial Yards being compared to a LA Live,” said Steve Koonin, CEO of the Atlanta Hawks and Chairman of the Georgia Aquarium.

Steve Koonin is CEO of the Atlanta Hawks and Chairman of the Georgia Aquarium.

“Bernie Marcus started the renaissance of turning the downtown area around when he built the Georgia Aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium created huge opportunities for restaurants, hotels and other attractions to blossom in downtown. Now Centennial Yards is emerging in the center of downtown Atlanta. It will add a live, work and play destination that the city has been lacking. The Atlanta Hawks are proud to play a part,” said Koonin.

The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau reported $16 billion in hospitality revenue and an estimated 57 million visitors in 2019. In 2020, the 74 percent occupancy rate tanked to 36 percent immediately when COVID hit. In 2021 48 percent occupancy and the rate has already increase dramatically for as of the 1st quarter of 2022.

One Centennial Yards is designed to provide open-air environments on every floor, with terraces on every level, large retractable doors on the building’s amenity floor, and landscaped rooftops. The building was designed with the post-pandemic workspace in mind, providing tenants with opportunities to gather and connect outdoors.

The Centennial Yards project is bordered by Centennial Olympic Park Drive, Mitchell Street, Richard B. Russel Plaza, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Ted Turner Drive, as well as portions of Marietta and Forsyth Streets.

One Centennial Yards is designed to provide open-air environments on every floor, with terraces on every level, large retractable doors on the building’s amenity floor, and landscaped rooftops. The building was designed with the post-pandemic workspace in mind, providing tenants with opportunities to gather and connect outdoors.

The CIM Group is a development company that specializes in turning difficult property into community gems. Richard Ressler, co-founder and principal of the Los Angeles-based group, teamed up with his brother, Tony Ressler, who is also the owner of the Atlanta Hawks, on the $5 billion Centennial Yards project.

The brothers created Centennial Yards Co., which presented a $33.5 million check to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in October 2021, where she announced,

Rendering: One Centennial Yards will provide 28 stories and over 500,000 square feet of office space. The tower comprises three slender towers. Its façade is inspired by the industrial and railroad heritage of Downtown Atlanta. It features 19,000 square feet of amenities and 21,980 square feet of outdoor spaces.

“We have established a new model for leveraging land development to achieve both economic growth and community good. Never in the history of our city has a single development deal been negotiated in a way that will have such far-reaching, generational impact. The Gulch redevelopment will not only physically bridge the gap between the east and westsides of Atlanta, bringing economic vitality to a long-undeveloped part of downtown, but also affordable housing, workforce training, enhanced public safety, and job opportunities throughout the city. I am grateful for the approval by the Atlanta City Council and look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that as our city grows and prospers, our communities are not left behind.”

Centennial Yards, formerly known as the Gulch until the developer rebranded the area in May 2019 and hired economic development expert Brian McGowan, president at Centennial Yards – A CIM Group Company to oversee the project.

Brian McGowan is President at Centennial Yards – A CIM Group Company

The AJT contacted CIM Group to get the status of the project, since COVID obviously interfered with their original timeline.

“This will be a very exciting year for Centennial Yards. We’ve cleared a number of hurdles and will now have several buildings under construction by year end. In fact, if you look at the site now – dirt is already moving, and a new residential building is open and operational. We are excited to partner with the City to give Atlanta the downtown that it deserves,” said McGowan.

Rendering of Centennial Yards, formerly known as The Gulch – Before and After

Brandon Sutton, vice president of marketing and communication reported the project is moving on as planned, including:

• 6 buildings under design currently – representing approximately 1200 apartments and 600 sf. of commercial office space

• Breaking ground on a 232-unit residential building on Mitchell Street designed by Cooper Carry this summer – scheduled to deliver in 2024

• Another 54-unit residential building on Elliott Street designed by Praxis 3 and JW Robinson that is scheduled to break ground in late 2022

• Wild Leap Brew Co. planned opening in the Canyon late summer 2022

• SAP review underway on 290-key hotel – planned groundbreaking early 2023
• Subsurface sewer line infrastructure construction is underway and scheduled to complete by end of 2022

• Nelson Street bridge construction is on track and scheduled to be complete by early 2023

Centennial Yards will be one of Atlanta’s best-connected neighborhoods — adjoining Castleberry Hill, Fairlie-Poplar and Sweet Auburn. Minutes from anywhere in the Metro area via bike, MARTA or highway. A mix of residences for creative professionals, students and empty nesters.

A.J Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID).

A.J Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID), said, “Centennial Yard has the potential to be that ‘once in a generation’ development that can change the way we look at real estate in the city. Historic projects like Portman’s Hyatt Regency, the development of Lenox Square, and the creation of Ponce City Market come to mind as just a few comparisons that have had major impacts on the community both here and elsewhere.

“We are excited to witness their project pipeline ramping up quite rapidly and we look forward to the day when the buildings of Centennial Yard join the postcard of downtown Atlanta assets.”

Check back for news updates as this story continues to develop. 

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