Expert busts the 'Midtown Mile' myth

midtown mile ~ what now, atlanta?

Will Midtown's proposed retail epicenter, the Midtown Mile, ever be completed?

Yes. But it's not that easy.

Midtown Alliance, a business association, published a report in the 90s called "Blueprint Midtown" that discussed the need for a retail centerpiece on the Peachtree corridor in Midtown Atlanta.

Nicknamed "The Midtown Mile," the corridor begins on North Avenue near the Fox Theatre and ends just past 15th Street on Atlanta's famous Peachtree Street, a $2 billion retail district.

The vision of Midtown Mile is one million square feet of retail space with a 16.5-mile streetcar system running from Downtown to Buckhead. Blueprint Midtown called for combining existing retail with new development by Atlanta's top developers.

After two decades, only fragments of the vision have materialized. Now, the Midtown Mile lacks connectivity as outlined in Blueprint Midtown, much like the rest of Atlanta. There are pockets of decent retail and restaurants with nothing in between.

Some of the finished projects on Peachtree Street include 1010 Midtown, 12th and Midtown and The Loews Hotel. The vision is developing in baby steps as the available space in the aforementioned properties are slowly being absorbed with quality tenants.

Let's examine the most recent additions to the Midtown Mile:

CB2 has recently opened a 14,000-square-foot space at the 12th and Midtown complex alongside some relatively new restaurants: RiRa Irish Pub, Ra Sushi and Piola. Exhale Spa recently opened across the street, occupying more than 20,000 square feet.

STK restaurant is the highly anticipated addition to the Midtown Mile, opening soon. The trendy steak house from New York is known to be a celebrity hang-out at their high-profile N.Y., L.A., and Miami locations.

For years, rumors have been floating about an Apple Store and a Saks Fifth Avenue, but that hasn't be confirmed.

With the recent economic crash and real estate bubble burst, the rest of the high-rise developments along the Midtown Mile appear to be on hold.

So what about the future?

We don't foresee any new skyscrapers (vertical development) breaking ground for at least five years. The land values along Peachtree Street can not justify one-off retail developments but instead need the extra vertical, mixed-use component to make the financials work.

The architects of Midtown Mile should continue to focus on their block-by-block approach, starting on 14th Street and stretching to 8th Street. Any development past there is not realistic for the time being.

Here's the solution: It takes a foot at a time to make a mile.

(Photo credit: Atlanta INtown)