Atlanta Housing Authority set to buy Civic Center for $31 million


The Atlanta Civic Center could soon have its second act.

On Thursday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced a new plan to sell the city’s aging civic center in a deal officials say will create much-needed affordable housing close to jobs centers in Midtown and downtown and a short walk from MARTA rail.

The plan to sell the theater and surrounding land for $31 million to the Atlanta Housing Authority would mark a fresh start for a land deal that was scuttled last year. Joining the housing authority in the project is Weingarten Realty of Texas, the same firm that had been in prolonged talks with the city to buy the complex before Mayor Kasim Reed pulled the plug last October.

2016 VIDEO: City leaders want to sell Civic Center

Many of the details remain to be worked out, but Catherine Buell, the housing authority president and CEO, said a minimum of 30 percent of the residential units built on site would be reserved as affordable. The site likely will have multiple residential towers, she said.

Construction will take at least two years after the deal closes, which is expected to take place Nov. 1.

“This is the first time that the housing authority will have a dynamic space like this downtown,” Buell said.

Weingarten, Reed said, would be responsible for retail and office space on the site, while AHA handles the residential.

A representative for Weingarten in Atlanta said he was not authorized to comment because of matters of confidentiality.

Reed said the civic center building likely will not be saved, though a smaller performing arts center is under consideration for the site.

The Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, long a money-loser for the city, could be a prime redevelopment site. The city started the process of selling it in 2014, and the following year Reed announced he was seeking a deal with Weingarten for the nearly 20-acre site.

Weingarten previously wanted to buy the complex for $30 million, and announced an ambitious $300 million redevelopment that would raze the civic center and replace it with a mix of apartments, retail, office space and a park

But talks dragged on and Reed ultimately announced he was abandoning a deal last October.

Talks were renewed with the AHA stepping in as lead developer and Weingarten as a partner. The project also will require a substantial project by the city’s Watershed Department to fix storm water issues that regularly swamp the property and those surrounding it during heavy rains.

Reed said the city was examining a larger underground vault or a detention pond that could serve as a water feature similar to the popular Historic Fourth Ward Park and the future Rodney C. Cook Sr. Park on the Westside.

The scuttled sale was seen as a setback, and many in the real estate community said the nearby Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter weighed on the purchase price of the property. Reed said last year that the city would likely wait until a process to seize the homeless shelter by eminent domain was completed before returning the property to market.

Peachtree-Pine’s operations are winding down as officials work to close it and transfer residents elsewhere.

Reed said the closing of the controversial homeless shelter will aid in the area’s transformation. So too will further efforts to rid the area of crime, in particular nearby Renaissance Park.

“Right now that park is a challenge because of the number of drug users and the amount of prostitution that occurs in that park,” Reed said.

Like many growing cities, affordable housing has become a pressing issue in Atlanta. Much of the new development in the city since the Great Recession has been geared to luxury buyers and renters.

A recent investigation by the AJC found the Beltline has so far failed to meet lofty promises of new affordable housing development. 

The city has a number of programs, including one by the city’s development arm, Invest Atlanta, to provide tax incentives in exchange for a percentage of rental units being reserved at rents affordable for working families.

It was not immediately clear how much, if any, tax incentives might be involved in the deal.

The AHA has a few new projects in the pipeline, including a mixed-income development at the former Herndon Homes site near Mercedes-Benz Stadium that is expected to include 700 apartments.

Since the mid-1990s, the AHA has shifted to replace aging public housing stock with new mixed-income communities.

Reed said the project will put “working people and affordable housing in an area of the city where people really want to live and right on transit,” which said is a high priority.

MYAJC.COM: REAL JOURNALISM. REAL LOCAL IMPACT.

AJC Business reporter J. Scott Trubey keeps you updated on the latest news about economic development and commercial real estate in metro Atlanta and beyond. You'll find more on myAJC.com, including these stories:

Never miss a minute of what's happening in local business news. Subscribe to myAJC.com.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs seek community input on improvement plan
Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs seek community input on improvement plan

In early 2017, the Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts was awarded a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to complete the AeroATL Greenway Plan. When complete, it will be a comprehensive trail master plan for the Aerotropolis area, connecting the communities around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Each of the...
BREAKING: Arrests made in robberies targeting Asian businesses
BREAKING: Arrests made in robberies targeting Asian businesses

Two of the three people wanted in connection with a string of violent robberies targeting Asian businesses have been arrested, according to the FBI. The names and charges of those arrested have not been released. FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said details would be released later Wednesday. According to officials, the trio robbed 10 restaurants, spas...
Atlanta wins COPS grant to expand BeltLine patrol unit
Atlanta wins COPS grant to expand BeltLine patrol unit

The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded a 2017 Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program grant to the city of Atlanta. It was among the recipients for a $1.875 million award, which will fund 15 additional Path Force officers over three years. The Path Force is a dedicated unit of the Atlanta Police Department that patrols the Atlanta BeltLine&rsquo...
Road to Bethlehem closed for 60 days
Road to Bethlehem closed for 60 days

The Georgia Department of Transportation will be shifting traffic on the roundabout project in Walton County at State Route 81 and Bold Springs Road in Bethlehem. This section of Bold Springs Road is 8.2 miles northeast of Loganville. The construction will detour traffic for Bold Springs Road headed westbound by way of Bold Springs Church Road beginning...
Runoff election early voting begins Nov. 27 in Peachtree Corners
Runoff election early voting begins Nov. 27 in Peachtree Corners

Early voting in the runoff election for Peachtree Corners City Council Post 4 between the incumbent Jeanne Aulbach and candidate Joe Sawyer begins Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 1. Voters may cast their ballots between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Peachtree Corners City Hall, 147 Technology Parkway, Suite 200. City Hall is the only location for this runoff...
More Stories