Following suit with cities across the nation, Atlanta now has a “Yards” project of its own on the rise. When complete, Centennial Yards — a $5 billion proposed redevelopment project — will lift up a long-neglected section of the downtown area previously known as the Gulch.
The project’s recently announced name is an homage to the site’s once bustling rail hub and Centennial Olympic Park. When complete, Centennial Yards will feature:
• A new network of pedestrian and transportation infrastructure
• 1,000 residences, 1,500 hotel rooms, and retail and office space
• A pedestrian plaza and green space connecting the area to major sports venues
Here, we break down this massive megaproject by the numbers.
12 to 15 new city blocks
The Centennial Yards project is expected to create somewhere between 12 and 15 new city blocks, according to an AJC report, which includes an updated site rendering. Work is expected to begin in 2020, and the project will take between 10 and 15 years to fully complete.
40 feet below street level
This site is among the most challenging in Atlanta, as the property is crisscrossed by rail lines and parking lots that sit about 40 feet below street level. Before construction can begin, a $500 million platform will have to be built over the 40-acre pit of parking lots and rail lines. The platform itself is expected to take two to four years to finish.
$13 million in air rights
Earlier this year, CIM Group (the development company leading the project) acquired the last component needed to launch the Centennial Yards project: a lease to air rights, which allows for building in airspace near CNN Center. CIM reportedly acquired the air rights lease from CNN Center’s original developer, Cousins Properties, for $13 million, giving the developer total control of the 40-acre site.
$50 million community benefits package
As part of their agreement with the city of Atlanta, CIM Group will provide a $50 million-plus community benefits package that includes affordable housing as well as economic and workforce development. The developer has agreed to set aside 38% of construction contracts for minority- and women-owned businesses.
$2 billion incentive package
To make this project a reality, the city of Atlanta offered a nearly $2 billion incentive package to CIM Group, which is almost entirely comprised of publicly funded bonds. Local activist groups have argued that the deal unjustly benefits the developers, arguing in particular that the sales tax exemption is unconstitutional.
The financing package also triggered a battle between the city and Atlanta Public Schools over the use of school property taxes to fund development. In January, the two sides came to a compromise that ended the dispute, but APS said the city hasn’t fulfilled all its commitments.
Though the project has encountered its fair share of controversy, there’s no doubt that Centennial Yards has the potential to completely transform downtown Atlanta if construction moves forward as planned. This is certainly one to watch in the months to come!