For years, questions have swirled around what may become of Underground Atlanta, a tired tourist attraction and former nightlife mecca that’s seen several ups and downs across recent decades.
Today, WRS has lifted the veil on its plans for a substantial portion of the historic property, which the South Carolina-based developer officially bought from the City of Atlanta for about $35 million in early 2017, following delays.
In addition to the Masquerade music venues that operate at Underground now, the four-block redevelopment in one of Atlanta’s oldest sections will welcome an international hotel unique to the market, an LGBTQ+ -friendly club, and building’s worth of workforce housing, according to WRS officials.
A letter of intent has been signed with another housing piece (270 units), while 300 apartments are proposed and several retail and office slots reman available, per officials.
The most significant new signing is hotel brand YOTEL, which plans to open its first Atlanta outpost in what WRS has designated Block One, at the northwest corner of Pryor and Upper Alabama streets.
The 1.9-acre site is planned to have direct tunnel access to the MARTA Five Points Station.
YOTEL operates hotels in airports and city centers around the world, from London and Istanbul to San Francisco and Singapore. The concept is said to be cost-friendlier than traditional hotels, inspired by the “luxury of first-class airline travel and the ability to incorporate ultimate comfort and convenience into compact spaces”—and thus rooms that are known as “cabins.”
Construction is scheduled to begin next summer, with an opening pegged for fall 2022, according to WRS.
The property is expected to incorporate “open spaces with [a] gym, restaurants, bars, rooftop pool and outdoor terraces for coworking, informal meetings and relaxing,” per a press release.
Underground’s central location and quick access to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport were selling points for YOTEL operators, noted WRS president and CEO T. Scott Smith.
Also planned is a cabaret, restaurant, and dance club called Future geared toward the LGBTQ community. It’ll be built out in a two-story, 14,000-square-foot space in Block Four, fronting Alabama Street, Underground’s central artery.
The concept will be open for lunch and dinner, and owners Keith Young and Hoosh Mishu have signed a 10-year lease, officials noted. Phoenix, an Atlanta professional drag queen and veteran of RuPaul’s Drag Race, will lead the cabaret show.
Meanwhile, the 130 units of what WRS is calling workforce housing will be shifted from Block Two, as previously planned, to Block Three, a 3-acre site where Central and Alabama streets meet.
Developer Prestwick Companies has named the project The Avery, and 104 of the one-to-three bedroom units will be reserved for families earning 60 percent or less of the area median income. The rest will be market rate, per developers.
At the base, expect a mix of street retail that’s aimed at Georgia State University’s growing student population.
The rentals “will provide much-needed housing options to support the community being created as well as the broader downtown population,” reads a company statement.