After much debate, Atlanta City Council agreed yesterday, by a vote of 10 to 4, to turn the aging 380,000-square-foot Civic Center ("The Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center," if you're fancy) over to Invest Atlanta, which will seek bids from developers. The hope — and it's a hope that will sound familiar to those who have been following the similarly motivated sale of Underground Atlanta — is to transform the Civic Center from an entity that is projected to lose $400,000 a year through 2017 to something lovely and useful, say, some housing, retail, a hotel or offices for Georgia's burgeoning film industry. Opened in 1967, the 4,600-seat venue underwent a $2 million renovation in 2001 but now needs significant (and pricey) repairs. Whispers of wrecking balls have been flying around since at least 2007 and now seem pretty much inevitable. Family Feud should go ahead and start packing up its podiums.
Council members were at first hesitant to hand over the 16 acre property, worrying that in doing so, they would lose all oversight or ability to control what ultimately ended up in the space off Piedmont Avenue and Ralph McGill Boulevard. To calm those concerns, the Kwanza Hall-sponsored ordinance added an amendment requiring Invest Atlanta to brief the Council on the Request For Proposals before getting developers or the public involved. Using an RFP format lets the city set goals like providing affordable housing, creating jobs, adding green space or setting up a record-breaking mega strip club. (Note: One of those is fairly unlikely. You can decide which.) Despite its broke-down nature, the city expects the Civic Center to fetch at least $42 million.
What needs to happen in that space?
· Atlanta City Council OKs sale of civic center [11 Alive]
· Atlanta City Council OKs sale of civic center [Atlanta Business Chronicle]
· Civic Sale [Curbed Atlanta]
· A divided council takes another step towards selling Civic Center [AJC - Behind paywall]