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Downtown’s massive ‘The Stitch’ project rolls forward with year-long feasibility study

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Panel discussion offers a hint at what could be in store to reconnect Midtown and downtown.

More than a year ago, a grand idea to knit the fabric of Midtown and downtown back together emerged in the form of “The Stitch.”

Now, Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) is working to move the project forward, with a study underway to delve deeper into its massive potential.

At a panel discussion last night, hosted by the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, experts spoke on the feasibility, economic implications, and potential impact of the ambitious undertaking.

Moderated by Jennifer Ball, the VP of Planning and Economic Development for CAP, the session included representatives from Jacobs—the engineering firm brought in to execute the initial vision—as well as David Scott of DaVinci Development Collaborative, who is currently heading the latest study, and architectural designer Luca Maffey of John Portman and Associates.

Ball noted that the vision for bridging The Connector has been advancing for nearly two decades, stressing that the project would be nothing short of transformational for the North Downtown neighborhood.

The new study will ultimately result in an “implementation plan,” according to Scott, with “a list of stakeholders a couple pages long” having input into the process.

Overall, the initial planning concept called for new public parks and plazas to be constructed to cap the Interstate 75/85 gulch from Spring Street to Piedmont Avenue.

The development would also include new high-rises, containing a mix of residences, offices, retail, and possibly even hotels, intermixed with restored historic buildings such as the Medical Arts Building.

Jonathan Bartlett, a Jacobs real estate strategy consultant, conceded the project will be “hugely expensive.” But with the potential to increase the value of the surrounding buildings by 25 percent, encourage denser redevelopment in the adjacent neighborhood, and even create new land from the area above the interstate, the economic impact of capturing untapped value alone could exceed $3 billion, officials believe.

Bartlett added that the site would “make an excellent spot for a humble book seller to place their headquarters.”

The new study will be completed in 12 months.