In a story titled "Hoping to Resuscitate a Portion of the City's Heart," the New York Times chronicles the mixed-use vision for Underground Atlanta and its regression from Atlanta's answer to Bourbon Street, to a touristy "festival marketplace," to the Casino That Never Was and finally to a "tacky, costly hole in the center of the city." An official with WRS, the South Carolina development company that expects to close the $26 million purchase of Underground by September, told the newspaper their redevelopment idea isn't exactly revolutionary. But WRS's timing, the official asserts, "is spot on," in that residents of Atlanta, like other cities, "want to be in urban centers, and they want that authenticity, and they want to be on transit. And that wasn't always the case." Along with a supermarket and renovated subterranean mall, WRS plans to build roughly 900 apartments. If those plans materialize, that could bring downtown a significant injection of invested residents. Nine hundred apartments would be more units than Atlanta's most hyped mixed-use offerings — Buckhead Atlanta, Ponce City Market and Inman Quarter — have combined.
The Times notes that the future of Underground Atlanta is staked on a "radical concept for this sprawl-loving metropolis" — that people might want to live in an area that some still perceive as being overrun with panhandling and petty crime. That being said, signs are beginning to point to a "reawakened neighborhood" south of Midtown, thanks in large part to "the 32,000-student Georgia State University, which has expanded aggressively, building new residence halls and taking over office towers for use as classroom space," the newspaper writes. Another encouraging sign: the collection of old buildings near Underground seeing new life as office lofts and art galleries. The WRS official said a revitalized Underground, ideally speaking, would be the catalyst for much more activity like that.