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Contemplating a Midtown ‘fantasy’ arrangement for Amazon’s HQ2

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Reader, like many, asks: Could recent office activity be a game-changer in Atlanta’s Amazon quest?

A parking lot in Midtown Atlanta that came up for sale last year.
This 4.1-acre lot bounded by Spring, West Peachtree, and Third streets, and Ponce de Leon Avenue hit the market last fall, marketed as “Ponce & 3rd.” Could it help accommodate HQ2?
Google Maps

AT&T officials made headlines recently in announcing the telecommunications titan will soon vacate a substantial piece of vertical Midtown real estate: the 49-story West Peachtree Street tower that bears the company’s name.

Owned by New York-based Icahn Enterprise Holdings, the building—a fixture in Midtown’s skyline for nearly 40 years—encompasses more than 1 million square feet.

It wasn’t long before real estate observers—include one big-thinking Curbed Atlanta reader—connected the dots that so much available office space would satisfy Amazon’s immediate needs for the first steps of a second headquarters.

Like many Atlantans (and prominent, local developers) a reader we’ll call Mike began brainstorming about how Amazon’s HQ2 might fit, puzzle-like, into Midtown’s fabric. Could it be a viable alternative to plans for downtown’s Gulch, which has generally been considered the Atlanta HQ2 frontrunner?

With a hypothetical approach he calls “more fun than Fantasy Football,” Mike presents ideas that could qualify, in the parlance of millennials, as both woke and lit.

He begins, “What if....”

...

1. Icahn sells Amazon the ATT building, which they are vacating. (That’s an instant 1 million square feet that satisfies Amazon’s initial Phase One needs). The building has a direct entrance to the North Avenue [MARTA Station], which is located at the southern end of the complex. Icahn bought it for $345 million. But will he sell it to Bezos for the capital investment that Amazon has pegged for Phase 1 ($300 to 600 million)?

...

2. The entire block immediately to the west—Ponce & 3rd, where Cristo Rey was—is/was on the market. Did someone buy this? I can’t find a record of it. But let’s pretend that [John Portman & Associates] buys it, because they own parcels directly to the north, or Amazon buys it and uses it to build Phase Two buildings.

[Editor’s note: We’ve followed up with the company marketing Ponce & 3rd when it was coming up for sale last year, and we’ll post any updates].

Image courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

...

3. Finally, [Design Principal] Luca Maffey from Portman comes in to transform the North Avenue MARTA Station into a focal point for this zone, as he states his desire to do in this article. See the question, “Finally, what places in Atlanta do you love the most?”

And the parking lot he mentions just south of the Fox Theatre would be amazing for a huge public space like those globes that Amazon just built in Seattle.

[Note: Developers, in realty, are planning a hotel for that property, but let’s not get hung on reality.]

...

4. The huge parking lot north of The Varsity (696 Spring Street and 670 Spring Street gets developed with beautiful Amazon buildings to tower over the Connector, just like NCR headquarters up the street.

Some side notes regarding this zone:

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5. Portman has that second parcel (next to Anthem) for a planned tower at 714 W. Peachtree Street. More Amazon space could even go here, no? (Which could prove awkward if Amazon gets into healthcare and ends up as a competitor against Anthem).

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6. The Spring Street parking deck between 4th and 3rd [streets] gets demolished, and a new building is put up in that Anthem block with the other Portman buildings—or someone figures out an ingenious way to build over it.

...

Quick—someone CC Bezos.