clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Underground Atlanta redo could welcome national grocer, movie theater

New, 52 comments

A smaller, locally based grocery store is still expected to set up shop at the mixed-use redevelopment, too

How one Underground facet is planned to look; Masquerade’s permanent home is seen at left.
How one Underground facet is planned to look; Masquerade’s permanent home is seen at left.
WRS rendering courtesy of S9 Architecture

Underground Atlanta development officials on Thursday gave an indication—albeit vague—about the downtown project’s potential list of incoming tenants.

They did specify that, among other possible lessees, a pastry shop, movie theater, clothing stores, and a small “upscale” local grocer would likely be in the mix. Additionally, a nationally recognized grocery—a smaller one, officials indicated—could make the cut, too.

That’s not quite a departure from developer WRS’s stated aim to steer clear of big-box grocery businesses; the (tentative) prospect of bringing a nationwide chain to a complex that’s been marketing a desire for a mom-and-pop shop, however, could raise eyebrows in the neighborhood.

At this point, WRS is merely weighing its options; it’s still focused on securing a hyper-local grocery business.

“We’ve been contacted by several small—very small-format—national and regional grocers,” said the company’s chief operating officer, Steve Howe, during a community meeting at Underground’s Masquerade music venue. “We’re trying to make the right play here.

“When we first started this project, none of the national grocers wanted to talk to us,” he continued. “Now, we actually have them calling us.”

When the redevelopment was announced, Underground Atlanta was little more than a Johnny Rockets hamburger joint buried in a largely forgotten shopping mall and entertainment district in the Five Points section of downtown, next to the city’s busiest MARTA station.

Now, almost three years after the revamp goals were unveiled, the area has already seen some development—and it’s prepping for much more.

The project is divided up into four different development blocks.

Atlanta’s beloved Masquerade has been built out to be bigger and badder than its former home on Old Fourth Ward’s North Avenue. In March, the iconic venue opened the downtown doors of “Heaven,” its largest concert hall ever, which bears the same name as its top-floor venue at the old haunt.

Living above Underground’s actual underground mall, the new “Post Office” has planted roots. It’s a multistory coworking space—not a real post office—anchored by a downstairs coffee shop.

With five conference rooms and eight meeting rooms, as well as common areas and reservable desk space, Post Office, stationed at the corner of Pryor Street and pedestrian-only Alabama Street, has played a role in bringing attention to the area and its impending revitalization, officials maintain.

Howe also told a few dozen people at the meeting Thursday the company had recently cut ties with its contracted leasing agent, Revel.

Asked by one community member about the circumstances behind the breakup, Howe said Revel had started off strong, but became tied up with other endeavors later on.

“We need somebody 100 percent dedicated [to the project] on-site. They had picked up a lot of different accounts, too,” he said, noting WRS will now handle its own leasing efforts from an office on the Underground property.

Underground spokeswoman Tara Murphy told Curbed Atlanta that the split was made public weeks ago, and that Revel is still addressing some of the letters of intent filed by interested businesses.

The exact names of the tenants have yet to be announced, although Howe said they should be available soon.

A few other announcements of note came in Thursday’s meeting, including: WRS will contract with local creative Toni Williams, who will help organize artistic efforts as WRS’s temporary leader of programming and community art.

One of many projects Williams will head is an initiative to paint murals on unsightly exhaust vents on the property. (The project recently unveiled a “vibrant” branding campaign.)

The air-conditioning system servicing the (sweaty) below-grade section of Underground is also—thankfully—set to be replaced, Howe told Curbed while walking through the underground sections of Lower Alabama Street.

Official renderings for Block Two of the four-block development are slated to be publicized in the near future—at least before the next community meeting scheduled for September, according to Howe.

“When we get the leases finalized—and we anticipate a number of those to be coming soon—we’ll be announcing specific tenants,” he said.

This story has been updated to show a newer development map.

Underground Atlanta

50 Upper Alabama Street, , GA 30303 Visit Website