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Renderings: Downtown’s Times Square-esque transformation to launch soon

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Expect beaming billboards, massive art installations, and architectural lighting to start appearing in early 2019

a rendering of the light boards to come
Get ready for ads and artwork at high-visibility downtown sites, such as Embassy Suites.
Renderings: Central Atlanta Progress

Downtown Atlanta isn’t exactly famous for being a hot nightlife spot—or a particularly dazzling place after dark.

That could change, to some degree, soon.

Thanks to a budding initiative called the Atlanta Arts and Entertainment District, the city’s central neighborhood is primed to transform in a way that some might find reminiscent of New York City’s Times Square. Only more spread out and on a smaller scale.

Last year, the Atlanta City Council approved legislation based on a pitch by Central Atlanta Progress that called for the relaxation of ads and signage regulations.

The ordinance slashed height restrictions for advertisements and paved the way for light projections, glowing billboards, and other forms of signage.

On Wednesday, Central Atlanta Progress announced the first 13 sites that are expected to get Arts and Entertainment District installations, which are expected to begin being pieced together and adorned on downtown buildings in late February. Or right after the Super Bowl has left town.

The Westin hotel.

The sites on deck for bright, gleaming upgrades include 101 Marietta Street, 79 Marietta’s parking deck, Embassy Suites at Centennial Olympic Park, Peachtree Center, and the Westin hotel at Peachtree Plaza.

Right now, 101 Marietta Street is the only site that has officially entered the permitting process, according to a CAP spokewoman.

Plans call for beaming billboards, massive art installations, and architectural lighting peppering downtown, as well as parts of Castleberry Hill and Vine City.

Additionally, revenue-sharing deals with participating advertisers will help fund public art and entertainment programming in the area, according to CAP.

The Westin hotel.

Although it’s not part of the AAED project, some might consider the replacement of the iconic Equitable sign atop 100 Peachtree Street to be one of the first pieces of downtown’s bright, electronic makeover.

The sign, which has glowed bright with white lettering for some 50 years, is being converted into a 174-foot-long, lighted board that will display not only the logo of the building’s new main tenant, Georgia’s Own Credit Union, but information about upcoming community events.

The Embassy Suites hotel.
Peachtree Center.
79 Marietta Street, a lipsticked pig.
101 Marietta Street.
101 Marietta Street.
A map showing where the first 13 installations will go.

This story was updated on November 15, 2018 at 12:05 p.m. to indicate that the first 13 sites had not all begun the permitting process. The 101 Marietta Street location is the only one for which permit applications have been filed.