Paces Properties' plans to resurrect the decrepit Atlanta Dairies complex on Memorial Drive are real — and they have the potential to be spectacular. The 11-acre site at 777 Memorial Drive, technically in Reynoldstown but a proverbial stone's throw from Grant Park and Cabbagetown, has been a moldering eyesore since Parmalat abandoned it in 2004. Paces — the developers behind Krog Street Market — filed plans to rezone the property last fall and closed on it in December. In an exclusive conference call with Curbed Atlanta, execs David Cochran, George Banks and Merritt Lancaster provided all sorts of details about their plans for the $125-million project dubbed simply "Atlanta Dairies" — an undertaking that will include retail, commercial, office and residential pieces with an "Americana and entertainment focus."
· The retail components will be built in three existing buildings, including the main structure (the brick building with the curved front) and everything to the east. According to Paces officials, tenants are slated to include "live music, indoor and outdoor," a "bowling, skee-ball and pinball bar," a "24-hour diner" and "some sort of literary center" with a coffee shop feel.
· Paces wasn't ready to announce any possible tenants — they hope to do so this spring — but retail offerings would follow the Americana, "Levis and Redwings" type of theme. They hope to include a pharmacy as well, but they insisted, "no chain stores, no drive-thrus."
· The three buildings to the west of all that, which were damaged by a tornado in 2008, will all come down. Office space — which may include a recording studio — will rise instead, as well as 300 new-construction apartments. The lone available rendering suggests this facet of the project will look distinctly modern — a contrast to its historic neighbor.
· In the middle will be "the yard" — a large outdoor plaza with the potential to host live music, movie screenings, flea markets, a beer garden and private events, officials said.
The hope, Paces executives said, is for ground to break this September, though they'll be doing preliminary site work in the meantime. From there, the commercial components would likely take a year to complete, with the apartments (which will include a parking deck) finishing somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 months. Perkins + Will, the firm behind the Beltline's design, is leading the way on the architecture side of things.
The concept is partly inspired by Portland, Oregon's Kennedy School, and Paces officials said they were keenly aware of what they wanted to include before they approached prospective tenants. They learned a lot from the Krog Street project, they said — and not just that old buildings have character. "If you make a place that's a unique experience and a destination," Banks said, "the people will come, and they will spend money."
— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Tyler Estep