The development partners of Georgia State University on Thursday unveiled what they see as the new gateway to downtown, with new design concepts and a name for the planned $300 million mix of residences, retail, and offices around the former Turner Field.
The project, called Summerhill after the historic neighborhood that surrounds the stadium to the north and east, will start with the reinvention of boarded up storefronts along Georgia Avenue into a mix of shops, restaurants and a brewery/beer garden.
The development team, led by Atlanta-based Carter, plans to start renovation in November of nine aging brick buildings it controls there as well as construct new buildings for a mix of food, services and retail.
The first phase of the project is also expected to include a new 700-bed, $70 million student housing building just north of Georgia State Stadium. The student housing project will break ground in February, said David Nelson, senior vice president at Carter.
In an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Carter officials outlined what they see as the first projects that will help create a critical mass for future development. The interview came as Georgia State kicked off its inaugural football season Thursday in its newly christened stadium with what was expected to be a sellout crowd of 25,000.
Carter President Scott Taylor said the company has a corporate campus to the north and additional retail slated for additional phases. He said the development team plans to pitch businesses that desire to be close to downtown, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and a major research university. But the draw, he said, is also about being part of a neighborhood.
Many businesses start their search in Buckhead, Midtown or the Central Perimeter area, but “we are trying to really shift that conversation so that people think about Summerhill,” Taylor said. “This is really the gateway to downtown.”
Nelson said the student housing project, to be developed by a partner out of Texas, should be completed by summer 2019. Shops and restaurants along Georgia Avenue are expected to open before kickoff of the next football season.
Though Carter declined to name tenants, the company said about 20,000 square feet of the 55,000 square feet in the first phase of retail is spoken for, with announcements of tenants to follow in the coming weeks.
“All are intown operators,” Nelson said. “All live and work here in town.”
A grocery store is planned in a later phase.
The first phase, the bulk of which centers along Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard and Georgia Avenue just north of the stadium, also will include a boutique hotel, 175 townhome-style rental homes and a mid-rise loft office building geared toward smaller companies in what Braves fans might remember as the Gold Lot.
The development partners also are considering homes for purchase in the first phase.
The partners plan hold quarterly meetings with the five stadium neighborhoods, with the next on coming Sept. 23. The meetings, birthed in the Livable Centers Initiative planning meetings that coincided with the sale of the stadium property to Georgia State and its partners, are designed to get feedback from the community, Taylor said.
“This will be a bottom up process, not top down,” Taylor said.
Georgia State and joint venture of developers Carter, Oakwood Development and Healey Weatherholtz closed in January on their acquisition of the ballpark and surround parking lots.
The deal marked a new era for The Ted and the neighborhoods around it.
Georgia State opened the converted stadium in August after a $26 million renovation with the high school football in the Corky Kell Classic. The Panthers will play six home football games, and has plans for occasional soccer and lacrosse matches and concerts.
Most of the athletic association staff have moved into the office building that formerly housed the Braves executive offices, said Georgia State Athletic Director Charlie Cobb. The university’s hospitality school soon will be based in office space at the stadium.
A Panthers baseball field in the footprint of the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium will follow in the years ahead.
“From a recruiting standpoint, having your own facility and having one with the history of this facility is hugely beneficial for our football program but also to all our teams,” Cobb said.
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