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For Amazon HQ2, developer swears Midtown Atlanta is the perfect fit

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Chunks of developable land, large enough to suit Amazon’s second headquarters, are still available across booming district.

A recent aerial of Midtown’s northern reaches, where one seasoned developer says Amazon would fit like an e-commerce glove.
A recent aerial of Midtown’s northern reaches, where one seasoned developer says Amazon would fit like an e-commerce glove.
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Alongside Atlanta, more than 200 other places are now vying to lasso Amazon’s potentially city-altering second headquarters, but unlike most of the others, the experts are adamant the ATL is a legitimate frontrunner.

One unique aspect working in Atlanta’s favor is options, in terms of developable land. Bezos and Co. could choose from airport-adjacency (Aerotropolis), an underdeveloped sports and government district (The Gulch), or a less-crowded inner suburb (Doraville’s Assembly mega-project).

But one seasoned Atlanta developer wants to send a clear message regarding another, denser intown option: don’t sleep on Midtown.

In an interview with Bisnow Atlanta, Selig Enterprises Chief Development and Operating Officer Steve Baile insisted that Midtown’s reputation as perhaps being too built-out for Amazon’s required 8 million square feet (eventually) is inaccurate.

Prior to Amazon’s deadline for pitches last week, Selig leaders compiled a list of potential sites across Midtown—currently owned by MARTA, MetLife, and of course Selig—that could meet HQ2’s requirements. The list was forwarded up the chain to Invest Atlanta, Bisnow reports.

The meat of available sites—capable of handling almost twice what Amazon would need—is clustered between 17th and 14th streets, along both West Peachtree Street and The Connector.

Options include current parking lots (see: 17th and Spring streets, and another at 14th Street); sites with direct transit connections (MARTA’s Arts Center Station); and a range of Selig-owned sites, including its planned mixed-user at 1105 W. Peachtree and even their land across the highway that houses a self-storage facility and the Silver Skillet. (Bisnow has more site details here).

Baile stressed that while all sites might not be contiguous, Midtown would offer unrivaled walkability and density of condos and apartments for Amazon employees.

In an interview with the website, Midtown Alliance CEO Kevin Green pointed out that, under current zoning, there’s enough developable land left in the core of Midtown to essentially double the submarket’s existing office space (another 45 million square feet, that is).

Another key piece of available Midtown land to recently make news (see below) is found a little farther south, between two tech-focused Portman Holdings towers that are moving forward and The Varsity.

Image courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

Commercial real estate brokers Cushman & Wakefield announced last month that more than 4 acres of mostly parking lots is up for grabs at 680 W. Peachtree St.

One potential, viable use that sellers have evaluated: mixed-use totaling almost 3 million square feet, officials said.

“With the war for talent on the front of every CEO’s mind, any land sites offering close proximity to the bright minds at Georgia Tech should receive strong interest,” Cushman & Wakefield’s Pierce Owings said in a press release. “This 4.1-acre development opportunity sits between Georgia Tech’s main campus, the explosive job creation being generated out of Tech Square, and easy access to the world’s busiest airport via the MARTA North Avenue Station.”

According to a highly scientific Curbed Atlanta poll, more than 60 percent of Atlantans are optimistic, at least, that the Big Peach has a real shot of landing what’s been called a corporate score of Olympic proportions.

But Atlanta reportedly has 237 competitors across North America that submitted proposals before Amazon’s deadline last week.

Still, many national observers have slotted Atlanta in the potential top 10 city finalists, easy, including Moody’s Analytics, which provided a sophisticated analysis last week showing Atlanta finishing in second place behind only Austin.

Meanwhile, Forbes.com made this observation:

“Atlanta is one of the few cities to appear on nearly every list as a possible second headquarters site.”