When the Georgia Building Authority closed the bidding process last week for 27 prized acres of dormant but historically significant land east of downtown, the list of bidders vying for the property was heavy on familiar names in Atlanta’s development world.
And then there was the dark horse: Atomic Entertainment LLC.
That unknown Atomic Entertainment had offered $8 million—tied for the highest bid with a joint venture by experienced locals Fabric Developers and Civitas Housing Group—indicated the group was motivated.
But who were they? The Internet and various public records yielded few clues.
In an interview today with Curbed Atlanta, Atomic Entertainment’s leader Adam Rosenfelt—a longtime movie producer who’s compiled a team of developers—shared his vision for what he hopes Pullman Yard will become, should his bid be selected by the state this summer. In short, Rosenfelt foresees an inviting and “cool mixed-use destination” that stresses historic preservation, and a movie factory that’s basically the antithesis of walled-off fortresses for film production.
Atomic’s ideas are competing with another mixed-use, preservation-first plan called the Pullman Preserve by the Fabric and Civitas team, the other leading bidders. Bidding stipulations released earlier suggest the GBA will pick the highest bidder they see fit.
Other bidders in the running are JoJo Investments LLC (bid: $5.7 million), Pratt-Pullman Partners LLC ($5.65 million), and Pope & Land Enterprises Inc. ($5.6 million).
The GBA is expected to review bids and select a winner in mid-June, and state officials predict Pullman Yard’s sale will officially close July 25.
That would mark the end of nearly three decades of state control—and a new beginning for one of the largest undeveloped tracts left in Atlanta, which for many years has been underused, apart from occasional movie and television shoots.
Atomic Entertainment is owned by Rosenfelt and his wife, fellow producer and business partner Maureen Meulen. Rosenfelt and his cohorts had been scouting the country for an ideal setting to build an entertainment and arts district, to no avail, when associates in Atlanta pointed them toward the Pullman Yard property about eight months ago. Upon visiting the site, Rosenfelt said he was blown way.
Rosenfelt’s team includes “some of the larger historic redevelopers in the country” and others local to Georgia with experience in preservation, though he declined to specify.
“There has never been a thought of getting rid of the [Pullman Yard] buildings—they’re the coolest aspect of the land [and] what drew us to it,” Rosenfelt told Curbed. “We’re very clear that we want to retain and maintain not only the historic integrity of the property, but we’re very sensitive to the environmental needs of the property as well ... We intend on retaining most of the forest and a creek on the property and all historic buildings.”
Atomic’s arts-and-entertainment district idea calls for an affordable-housing component—to include short-term rentals for people in the movie and film industry—alongside other residences, retail options (emphasis on restaurants and bars), and offices alongside digital incubator, live performance, and film space. Only one building on the 27 acres would be reserved for what might be called a stage, Rosenfelt said.
“That stage will be open to a lot of things. We’re going to create what we call an ‘art gym’ where people could come in from the community to join, as with a fitness gym, to use the facilities and cameras,” said Rosenfelt. “It would be really interactive ... We want people like artists and young professionals to want to live there full-time.”
As for a timeline, Rosenfelt said his team is prepared to begin work immediately, but the duration of construction would hinge on myriad factors including testing of materials on site. There’s no template around the country, he said, for what his group is planning.
“That’s what’s so exciting about this,” said Rosenfelt, “it hasn’t really been done, in terms of the components we’re discussing.”