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Massive Midtown Project Tweaked For Greater Connectivity

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There's renewed hope a gigantic, three-tower project that could transform the feel of Midtown will be less daunting fortress and more inviting pedestrian haven. A key takeaway from an Atlanta Business Chronicle report about the 98 14th St. project being green-lighted by city planners last week is news of recent tweaks that call for greater connectivity — both within the project and to its Midtown neighbors. A deal on the four-acre, former "symphony center" site was expected to close last week. Developers hope to erect some 1,300 residential units, 340 hotel rooms and 90,000 square feet of retail (for context, that's about one-sixth of the core retail at Atlantic Station) by the year 2020. The same architects behind Phillips Arena — the team at pronunciation-proof Arquitectonica — are designing the 2-million-square-foot Goliath, and city leaders seem pleased with recent street-level changes.

The tallest 98 14th St. tower would climb to 720 feet, making it three feet shorter than the cylindrical Westin Peachtree Plaza and the sixth tallest structure in Atlanta. At the base of those towers, plans now call for a grid system with wide sidewalks and parallel parking — a "boulevard feel" meant to foster the retail element, one official told the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Should agreements with adjacent property owners such as Cousins Properties and Hines come through, we can expect a "Spanish Steps"-inspired stairway connecting to One Atlantic Center, a new road to West Peachtree Street and paths cutting to 15th Street and other sky-rises in the neighborhood, the newspaper reports.

Of course, we've all seen big plans like these crash and burn before. But some feel this market is hot enough to be different.

Earlier this year, a majority (44 percent) of voters in a highly scientific Curbed Atlanta poll said they believe the project will partially come to fruition, while 18 percent think nothing at all will happen. And 38 percent of voters are pure optimists who believe the whole shebang will eventually be built.

· City greenlights $650M 98 14th St. project [ABC; subscriber]
· Will Trifecta Of Midtown Towers Actually Happen? Vote Now. [Curbed]