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151-year-old downtown Atlanta church offers part of property for development

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First Congregational Church dangles .8-acre site, heavy on parking lots now, in hopes of capitalizing on recent growth

How the site (outlined in red) relates to the rest of eastern downtown.
How the site (outlined in red) relates to the rest of eastern downtown.
Courtesy of First Congregational Church

On the eastern flank of downtown Atlanta, the advent of high-rises and other recent growth hasn’t escaped the notice of one relatively ancient congregation.

At 151 years old, First Congregational Church has hosted parishioners on the same downtown block—now the corner of Courtland Street and John Wesley Dobbs Avenue—since a couple of years after the Civil War.

Now, in response to a surge of residential and commercial activity, especially on the part of Georgia State University, church officials are marketing a little more than half of the land they own as a prime development site, according to a Request for Proposals provided to Curbed Atlanta.

The lot in question, as seen a year ago.
Google Maps

The offering in question is .8 acres, mostly consumed by surface parking, with a low-rise structure in the middle that serves as the church’s rentable annex (originally a fire station) near the corner of Ellis and Courtland streets.

No minimum bid price was specified.

The intent is for First Congregational Church to partner with a developer to create “high-quality, urban real estate development that helps to advance the church’s mission while enhancing downtown” at the “heart of the growing Georgia State University campus,” reads the RFP.

Site overview.
Courtesy of First Congregational Church
A rendering of nearby tower The Mix, which is rising now.
The Mix

Officials note that neighboring parcels not included in the package “are prime for assemblage.”

Church leaders have partnered with Atlanta-based Bleakly Advisory Group, a real estate development consulting firm, in hopes of striking a deal.

According to research in the RFP, downtown’s supply of multifamily units has more than doubled since 2000, as 21 complexes have opened with nearly 4,000 residences.

Site context.
Courtesy of First Congregational Church

More specifically, the paperwork acknowledges recent GSU-related additions, which include a 2,000-dorm complex, the trendy One12 Courtland tower finished in recent years, and a rising, 26-story tower of upscale student apartments by South City Partners called The Mix.

Partnering with the right developer, as the church’s senior minister, Rev. Dwight D. Andrews, writes in the RFP, will “enhance our congregational mission and bring us new neighbors, while we continue to thrive here, hopefully for at least another 151 years.”

Responses to the RFP are due by February 22.

What’s not for sale: the sanctuary.
Courtesy of First Congregation Church