Atlanta Housing Seeking Developer for Mixed-Use, Affordable Development for Civic Center Site

Atlanta Housing is seeking a private partner to help reverse the negative effects of urban renewal in the Old Fourth Ward
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Atlanta Housing (formerly the Atlanta Housing Authority) has released a detailed Request Qualifications (RFQ) to redevelop the site of the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward. The RFQ stipulates that the project would retain the existing Performing Arts Center, Civic Plaza and at least a portion of the Exhibition Hall while developing the remainder of the site into a mixed-use, partially affordable development.

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In the RFQ, Atlanta Housing states that they are seeking a development partner to develop “13.12 acres of developable land (up to 6M sq. ft. of as-of-right developable area, 4.3M of which is allowed for residential) into a vibrant mixed-use community that includes affordable and market rate housing, office, retail, hospitality and open space that seamlessly integrates with the existing cultural facilities that will remain on site.”

The RFQ makes clear that Atlanta Housing aims to redress the displacement of Buttermilk Bottom, the African American neighborhood which was demolished to make way for the Civic Center in the 1960’s, under the then common pretense of “urban renewal” of a blighted neighborhood. Atlanta Housing also hopes that the project will reintegrate the neighborhood with Downtown, Midtown, and SoNo, while anticipating area projects including development spured by The Stich, the plan to cap I-75/85 between Downtown and the Old Fourth Ward.

The Civic Center has sat vacant since 2014, after the Atlanta Opera relocated to Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. in 2017, The Atlanta Housing Authority acquired the property from the City of Atlanta for $31 million, at which time they announced plans for a mixed-use project on the site. At the time, the Housing Authority promised at least 30% of the units would be dedicated to affordable housing, doubling the private sector’s best offer of 15% affordable units.

The RFQ does not specify the affordable housing split to be required for the development, but it does share a number of specifications for the scope of the project. The undeveloped portion of the site is zoned to allow up to 6.3 million sq. ft. of as-of-right development potential, with up to 4 million sq. ft. of residential under the current zoning designation. For reference, that would allow for 4,000 residential units at 1,000 sq. ft. each, and 1,200 affordable units at a 30% split. However, the RFQ includes test fits for a development up to only up to 1,955,000 sq. ft. of residential space, as seen below.

The RFQ is active through October 15th, 2021. After the RFQs have been reviewed, Atlanta Housing will release a shortlist of candidates on October 28th, who will be asked to respond to a Request for Proposal (RFP). The RFP responses will be due January 28, 2022, and the final selection will be announced at the Atlanta Housing board meeting on April 27, 2022.

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Test Fit of the Site Provided in the RFQ. Rendering: Official

Daniel Alvarado

Daniel Alvarado is an AICP Certified Urban Planner, transportation advocate, researcher and writer originally from San Antonio, Texas. He received his Master's Degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Texas at Austin, where his research focused on the intersection of green infrastructure and transportation. Daniel has been published by Decipher City, Progrss.org, and has contributed to dozens of comprehensive and transportation plans across the country.

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5 Comments

  1. Why doesn’t Georgia State buy this for their College of the Arts? Couldn’t they use the performing arts center, or does Rialto suit their needs? Can SCAD use this? Or why doesn’t Fulton County buy it and put up a proper competitor to Cobb Energy PAC? Tyler Perry?!?? Anyone?!?!??!

  2. Do we know any main contenders for this opportunity? Seems to have tons of potential… with the right partner.

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