Billionaire Tony Ressler, principal owner of the Atlanta Hawks, has been lobbying for a better downtown basically since the moment he arrived here two years ago. And now it sounds like he’ll be tapping highly qualified kin to make that happen.
But will it happen?
As a bit of foreshadowing, perhaps, Ressler told the AJC last year: "This is far too extraordinary a city to have a downtown that isn’t much more vibrant. Our hope, our objective, and certainly the vision that we hope to bring is how do we be a meaningful participant in moving that forward. Really transforming what this downtown area could and should be."
On Friday, the veil on Ressler’s plans lifted a little when the Saporta Report caught up with Mayor Kasim Reed after an Atlanta Committee for Progress meeting. Hizzoner confirmed that a $1-billion, mixed-use project (that’s roughly three times the cost of Ponce City Market’s overhaul) is moving forward that would transform The Gulch around Philips Arena.
Leading the project would be CIM Group from Los Angeles, a heavyweight firm whose urban redevelopment investments span from Santa Monica to SOHO and Brooklyn. One of CIM’s principals happens to be Ressler’s brother, Richard.
Reed told Saporta Report the Gulch redo has been in the works with the Ressler brothers since the Hawks announced they would remain in downtown Atlanta—thanks to a $200-million renovation of Philips Arena. The city is paying about $143 million of that tab with proceeds from an extension of the car rental tax and the sale of Turner Field.
Reed called the developers first-rate, self-capitalized, and capable of handling complex urban redevelopments. A multimodal transportation hub long planned for the site had little support at the state level and showed few signs of going anywhere in the next decade, the mayor said.
In other words, the transit hub has the makings of becoming another Green Line Redevelopment Plan (see below), a Gulch-capping vision that sputtered a decade ago.
In the interview, the mayor said little about what this $1-billion megaproject would actually be, when it would start, or who exactly is involved on the periphery. He did offer these optimistic words, though:
“I think the development around The Gulch is going to be one of the most important developments in the life of our city,” Reed told the website. “We have been talking about The Gulch for at least 30 years.”
So what say you, people of Atlanta?
Will a $1-billion, mixed-use redevelopment of Atlanta’s Gulch actually happen?
This poll is closed
Yes. The local economy is on fire and developers sound motivated.
I’m on the fence. The Gulch is kind of cursed. But this section of downtown needs it.
No. It’s the latest grand proposal for Atlanta that’ll be gathering dust in five years.
Man, I’m too pissed about tax-funded Philips Arena renovations to think about this.