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First look: Developer CIM’s vision for a reborn Atlanta Gulch

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In Atlanta’s quest for Amazon HQ2, underutilized downtown gulley is a favored site

The overarching Gulch vision, complete with new construction aplenty.
The overarching Gulch vision.
Renderings courtesy of CIM Group; designs, Perkins + Will

The clearest indication of what national developer CIM Group could have in store for Atlanta’s woebegone Gulch has emerged.

Project leaders with Los Angeles-based CIM attended a work session today with city officials to discuss the Gulch’s tax allocation district, part of ongoing talks spearheaded by the mayor’s office seeking ways to revitalize the most underutilized section of downtown—and at what cost.

CIM officials also shared the vision for what would essentially be a mini city within downtown: a new network of streets, buildings, and parks where little more than railroad infrastructure and tailgating spaces exist today.

Plans are tentative, and any development would likely be rolled out in multiple phases, but CIM’s ambitions for the Gulch parcels it’s assembling could constitute between a dozen and 15 city blocks, with between seven and 12 million square feet of new construction.

Office, residential, retail, and entertainment—but not hotel—uses have been discussed. Public green spaces and MARTA accessibility would also be an emphasis, a rep tells Curbed Atlanta.

CIM’s portfolio includes large-scale redevelopments in the downtown districts of major cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City’s Brooklyn.

Of a comparable scale to the Gulch proposal is a CIM project set to consume nearly 27 acres of downtown Miami, the Miami Worldcenter, which is also rising next to a sports arena and rail transit. (See that vision in a video here).

It’s the largest construction site in Miami history and the nation’s second-biggest mixed-use project behind Hudson Yards in New York, as Curbed Miami has relayed.

The Gulch today.
Photos: Curbed Atlanta

The Gulch site has long been viewed as a frontrunner in Atlanta’s quest to lasso Amazon HQ2’s 50,000 jobs, which the online goliath has indicated will eventually require some 8 million square feet of space.

Amazon reps toured the Gulch site in the spring, but the company has been mum on the subsequent selection process, and private developers—like city and state reps—are all forbidden to discuss dealings.

With or without Amazon, the public-funding carrot for CIM to overhaul the Gulch could be tempting.

If CIM can promise up to $3.5 billion worth of development in the downtown chasm, city officials have indicated that $900 million in public financing could be at the company’s disposal, as the AJC reported this month.

But with $5 billion worth of development, the public financing could reportedly spike to some $1.75 billion—more than twice what neighboring Mercedes Benz-Stadium received. That matter has yet to come before the Atlanta City Council.

This bird’s-eye-view rendering, also released today, indicates how the Gulch redevelopment would relate to downtown’s western flank and Westside residential neighborhoods.