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City of College Park wants Airport City project to be dense, dense, dense

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Municipal leaders suggest raising the development’s square footage almost threefold

a rendering of the massive project
This mammoth idea makes the Gulch’s footprint look tiny.
AAC Group, via AeroATL

The City of College Park reportedly wants to squeeze as much construction as humanly possible into the massive mixed-use district that could one day serve the areas around Atlanta’s airport.

How much? About four Atlantic Stations’ worth.

Dubbed “Airport City,” the project was pitched earlier this year as a way to enliven a largely vacant, formerly residential spread of 320 acres in College Park. It’s proposed to rise around Camp Creek Parkway, just west of the world’s busiest passenger airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International.

Airport City represents a substantial piece of the “aerotropolis” efforts—launched in 2015 to boost the no-man’s land around the airport—led by neighboring municipalities, a coalition of business heavies, developers, and airport officials.

Master developer AAC Group had been brewing plans to inject a whopping 3.5 million square feet of construction into the huge plot, but College Park officials are calling for more—much more.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, city leaders are vying for 10 million square feet of new development, which would obviously spike construction costs significantly.

The live-work-play project was initially expected to cost between $500 million and $1.5 billion; under College Park’s vision, Airport City could cost upwards of $3 billion, which has developers raising their eyebrows.

It’s not often that a project of that stature and density actually comes to fruition in America, an AAC rep told the paper.

The closest thing Atlanta has to a project like this is downtown’s Gulch redevelopment proposal, which is still in its infancy. (Atlantic Station, by contrast, counts about 2.5 million square feet of offices, residences, hotel uses, and retail, with more in the pipeline).

Additionally, infrastructure costs for the site have jumped since the project’s inception: What was once estimated to cost between $12 million and $15 million could now run the developer up to $40 million.

That’s largely because so much landscaping and demolition would need to take place before new buildings can ascend.

City officials aren’t totally wedded to that 10 million square foot goal. Although, in order to secure tax subsidies needed to pay for infrastructure, the project would need to bring at least 7.5 million square feet of development to the table, the ABC reports.

It doesn’t sound as if AAC is opposed to boosting density; the developer just wants to establish a more feasible goal before construction crews start rolling on site.

Groundbreaking for Airport City was initially slated for next month, although AAC and the City of College Park will need to meet and map out refined plans before that can begin.

City officials are aiming to have a new contract whipped up before a September 4 city council meeting.

An updated timeline punts the construction launch to late October or early November.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

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