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South Downtown’s long-languishing Norfolk Southern Building to be rehabed

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Twin historic structures spanning Nelson Street along the Gulch will be turned into residences

A pair of eight-story white classical buildings, conneced by a five-story bridge over the street.
The complex spans the Nelson Street Bridge.
Georgia Trust

A large historic building at the cusp of the Gulch in South Downtown will be transformed into residences as the neighborhood enters what could eventually be viewed as a renaissance.

Filings for a Special Administrative Permit (SAP), provided by Central Atlanta Progress, show that CIM Group is hoping to adaptively reuse the long-vacant Norfolk Southern complex.

The developer, who is planning a billion-dollar redevelopment of the adjoining Gulch area, bought the building for $25 million last year.

Spanning two blocks of Ted Turner Drive (formerly Spring Street), the classical white building originally housed operations for the railroad, overlooking the rail yards and train station that once filled the Gulch. The building has stood abandoned and neglected for years.

Permit filings indicate the two buildings—connected by a five-story bridge that spans the closed Nelson Street viaduct—will become 246 one- and two-bedroom residential units. Paperwork shows that there would be 90 studios, 108 one-bedroom units, and 48 two-bedroom units. 50,000 square feet of retail space could fill the lower floor of the building, facing Ted Turner Drive.

It wouldn’t be hard to imagine the Gulch-facing portion of the building to one day house retail facing the planned new development as well.

Facades of the building.
Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein via CAP

While there is no parking required in the district, the project will include 271 spaces for residents and an additional 149 for the non-residential uses. The 420 spaces are 147 less than the maximum allowed under zoning.

Drawings show that the facades will be restored, with unsympathetic renovations being peeled off to return the building to its original state. Eventually, a rooftop sign facing downtown could be added.

As part of the project, sidewalks would be widened along Ted Turner Boulevard, and the developer indicates they would like to reopen the Nelson Street Bridge to link the neighborhood to Castleberry Hill.

The announcement comes as the surrounding neighborhood expects to see a massive boost, with the redevelopment of Underground and Newport’s eight-block project pending.

Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein via CAP
Surber Barber Choate + Hertlein via CAP