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Atlanta’s latest ‘Yards’-titled project is expected to rise from the Gulch

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At $5B, the city’s most substantial redevelopment is reportedly called “Centennial Yards” now, with a goal of launching in 2020

The Gulch’s current parking lots and railroad tracks, where “Centennial Yards” is planned.
The Gulch’s current parking lots and railroad tracks, where “Centennial Yards” is planned.
Curbed Atlanta

Quarry Yards, Pittsburgh Yards, Atlantic Yards, Pullman Yard, Madison Yards, Amour Yards, Artisan Yards, Assembly Yards, Stockyards, The Railyard, Hulsey Yard, Tilford Yard, Switchyards, Saltyard, Kirkyard, Iron Yard (RIP), English Avenue Yards, Scotland Yard, Yard House, unkempt yards of Atlanta ... meet the new yard in town.

While certainly not unique to Atlanta, the city’s yard-naming craze has extended down to the Gulch and the most substantial nongovernmental development in the region, which is henceforth to be called “Centennial Yards.”

That’s according to a report by the AJC, which chronicles other behind-the-scenes happenings for a $5 billion proposed mini-city that could literally lift up a long-neglected section of downtown Atlanta.

Leaders with Los Angeles-based CIM Group will reportedly be pitching the Gulch Centennial Yards at a Las Vegas convention next week to potential tenants (early anchor ideas: museums, tech companies, big retailers, and smaller concert venues).

But first, a platform that could cost a half-billion dollars and take several years to finish would have to be built over the 40-acre pit of parking lots and rail lines. It could create a dozen to 15 new city blocks, according to the AJC report, which includes an updated site rendering. Work is expected to begin next year.

The Gulch could look drastically different if CIM’s vision for up to 12 million square feet of new construction is realized.

CIM’s titanic vision could take between five and 15 years to be fully built, and leaders say it’s being designed to be synergistic with both State Farm Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as a destination for sports fans and concertgoers.

Earlier this year, CIM acquired the last component needed to launch its multi-billion-dollar Gulch redevelopment: a lease to air rights, which allows for building in airspace near CNN Center.

CIM reportedly acquired for $13 million the air rights lease from CNN Center’s original developer Cousins Properties. The move gave CIM total control of the 40-acre Gulch.

The legal challenge filed by an activist group called Redlight the Gulch is still pending, however.

Aggravated by an incentives package that includes almost $2 billion in public monies, detractors have called the Gulch deal a major “scheme” benefitting developers, with one facet—a sales tax exemption—they believe is unconstitutional.

The Norfolk Southern Buildings beside the Gulch, as seen last summer.
Curbed Atlanta

Meanwhile, CIM Group has teamed with Stream Realty Partners for a roughly $70 million redevelopment of Norfolk Southern Buildings, along the Gulch’s eastern rim.

It’s expected to wrap next year and bring hundreds of lofts and apartments—and possibly the redevelopment’s first significant signs of life.

UPDATE, 1:58 p.m. Below is a screenshot showing the revised vision for a transformed Gulch, via the Centennial Yards project’s promotional website:

Centennial Yards