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Georgia World Congress Center’s pedestrian mall project takes big step forward

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Selection of development team pushes the $36 million entry plaza overhaul closer to reality

a rendering of the front stoop after a revamp
Imagine an entrance plaza that’s more inviting to pedestrians than cars, as it is now.
Renderings: Georgia World Congress Center Authority

The next time Atlanta earns the privilege of hosting a Super Bowl, the city could look drastically different—especially downtown.

If developers’ visions materialize, the Gulch will be stuffed in the next few years with billions of dollars in mixed-use buildings and infrastructure, South Downtown will have undergone a drastic makeover, and Underground Atlanta will have become the attraction it always aspired to be.

And then there’s the Georgia World Congress Center, which, if all goes according to plan, will boast more than 1 million contiguous square feet of convention space—1.5 million square feet altogether—include a dazzling pedestrian mall and a roughly 1,000-room new hotel.

The pedestrian-plaza redo took a major step forward last week, as the partnership of Atlanta-based HGOR and the Manhattan Construction Company earned the bid to develop the first phase of what could be a $36 million overhaul of the convention center’s entry plaza, GWCC officials have confirmed to Curbed Atlanta.

Details about the team’s plans are scant, since officials are still finalizing particulars of the unsigned development agreement, but the first phase is expected to cost about $13 million and transform part of Andrew Young International Boulevard into a more walkable corridor.

And if the architect and builder’s portfolios give any indication what the GWCC’s front stoop could become, stylistically speaking, Atlanta’s convention epicenter could be in for an aesthetic upgrade.

HGOR designed the public spaces at The Battery at SunTrust Park, the green roof at NCR’s new Midtown headquarters, and the masterplan for the massive Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry.

The company also designed Atlantic Station’s Central Park reincarnation, which is currently under construction, and a series of courtyard spaces at Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters.

Manhattan Construction’s Atlanta footprint includes the luxury apartment tower O5 Buckhead and the new World of Coca-Cola project.

The bidding contest for the pedestrian mall project closed in early December.

Meanwhile, the $55 million expansion of GWCC’s convention space is expected to wrap by the end of the year.

Also on the Congress Center campus, a 30-floor, 1,000-key Signia Hilton hotel concept is slated to rise at the northern edge of where the Georgia Dome once stood. It could break ground in the last quarter of 2019, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.