Loft apartments to fill former Norfolk Southern building in downtown Atlanta


The Los Angeles developer behind plans to turn downtown Atlanta’s Gulch into a massive mixed-use development wants to transform the hulking old Norfolk Southern building it bought there last year into loft apartments and commercial space.

CIM Group and development partner Stream Realty plan to convert the building along Ted Turner Drive into 246 apartments and reserve about 50,000 square feet for commercial space on the ground floor and viaduct levels of the complex.

The plan was outlined in a request for a special administrative permit.

CIM is the company behind grand plans to turn 27 acres of the Gulch — the swath of parking lots and weedy rail beds downtown — into a mini-city of office towers, residences, hotels, retail and restaurants. The site is seen as a contender to land Amazon’s second headquarters if the e-commerce and tech giant picks Atlanta for “HQ2” and its promised 50,000 jobs.

Last month, Atlanta was named one of 20 communities on Amazon’s shortlist.

But development of the Gulch is not contingent on landing Amazon, people familiar with the project say.

The Norfolk Southern building is adjacent to the Gulch development site and the Richard B. Russell Federal Courthouse downtown. But the permit sought to redevelop the building is separate from the broader Gulch plans.

CIM acquired the Norfolk Southern railroad office complex last summer. In the letter to the city, CIM’s law firm, Wilson Brock & Irby, said the redevelopment will bring life to buildings closed for more than a decade.

The developers plan to widen the sidewalks along Ted Turner that front ground floor commercial space. The developers said they also are working with the city for Tax Allocation District funds to assist them in meeting “the city’s affordable housing goals.”

CIM and Stream also want the Nelson Street bridge reopened for a pedestrian and bike link to Castleberry Hill. The developers also said they will maintain architectural details including the buildings’ “ornate copper canopies” at the complex’s entrances.

CIM co-founder Richard Ressler is the brother of Hawks lead owner Tony Ressler.

For the past few years, the Hawks and partners have discussed the construction of an entertainment district and mixed-use development surrounding Philips Arena. In December, CIM outlined plans for the Gulch project, which would be the largest single development project downtown since Portman’s Peachtree Center started in the 1960s.

CIM wants to build more than 9 million square feet of office space, 1,000 residences, 1,500 hotel rooms and 1 million square feet of retail space. It’s a project clearly aiming for the attention of Amazon as it scours North America for its new second headquarters.

Amazon is seeking 8 million square feet of office space by 2027, and CIM’s development timeline anticipates completion that same year.

The proposed mini-city would stretch from CNN Center to the north to the federal courthouse complex to the south, and from the Five Points MARTA station to the east to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the west.

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