New Underground Atlanta Owner Assembles Design Charrette to Envision ‘Next Chapter’

First draft master plan looks at historic buildings, residential options, retail and entertainment concepts, programmable indoor and outdoor public spaces, and plans for vertical growth with the addition of taller buildings
New Underground Atlanta Owner Assembles Design Charrette to Envision 'Next Chapter'
Photo: Official

Underground Atlanta’s new owner this month hosted a three-day design charrette with some urban planners, architects, engineers, and placemaking experts to “imagine a denser Underground Atlanta with multifamily residential options, a renewed street-level experience, and activated outdoor green space,” according to a press release Tuesday.

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The team, which was assembled by Shaneel Lalani, CEO of Billionaires Funding Group (BFG), and HGOR, an Atlanta-based urban design, placemaking, and landscape architecture firm, envisioned the first drafts of a master plan for the storied district. To follow the charrette, Shaneel and the team look to source community feedback to help inform the final master plan for the revitalization of Underground Atlanta.

“Our hope with the redevelopment of Underground Atlanta is to create the right environment for the city and a gathering place for Atlantans of all ages to utilize,” Lalani said in Tuesday’s announcement. “We commissioned the design charrette as the first step in creating a uniquely activated entertainment district that will restore the sense of wonderment and excitement around Underground Atlanta. We look forward to the opportunity to speak with the community to hear their thoughts on what uses will best serve the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods and the city to allow us to create an informed plan for this project.”

Representatives from each design firm along with city officials and other key community leaders took part in the design charrette to identify key opportunities for growth around Underground Atlanta.

The group split into three teams each focusing on different elements of the project. Following Lalani’s vision of a multi-phased redevelopment, the team presented a first draft of a master plan that addresses the rehabilitation of existing historic buildings and structures; incorporates viable residential options to address the need in the market; creates engaging retail and entertainment concepts at both the street level and within the underground mall around Kenny’s Alley; adds programmable indoor and outdoor public spaces and rehabs existing public areas, and includes plans for vertical growth with the addition of taller buildings for a variety of potential uses.

The team also placed an emphasis on the immediate need for onsite activation and programming to engage the Atlanta community and the over 8,000 current residents around downtown to create positive activity at Underground Atlanta in a safe way.

“Underground Atlanta will always have a place in Atlanta’s history as well as the feeling of nostalgia among the many who visited the district over the years,” A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress (CAP), said. “To ensure the success of Underground’s next phase, we must revive its sense of relevance. I was inspired by the conversations and initial plans that were presented at the charrette, and the team’s understanding of what is needed to create a great place within our Downtown community. I am impressed with Shaneel and his team’s vision to reestablish Underground Atlanta’s importance in our city’s future.”

HGOR led the charrette under the leadership of Founding Partner and Principal Bob Hughes.

“The revitalization of Underground Atlanta represents a remarkable opportunity to create an engaging and welcoming public space at the heart of our city in Downtown Atlanta that pays homage to its past and honors the community it’s serving,” Hughes said. The design concept that resulted from the charrette supports the massive investment and transformation of Downtown into a retail, residential and cultural hub.”

In addition to the design charrette, BFG continues to generate momentum in other ways including the hiring of Leasing Director India Turkell. Turkell will focus on retail and restaurant leasing for the 400,000 square-foot district.

“BFG and our partners are full steam ahead on bringing this historic district back to life, and a key piece of the process is creating the right tenant mix,” Lalani said. “With India’s experience working within a key retail market in Miami, she fits perfectly on our team as we look to create a new center of gravity downtown through diverse retail, restaurant and experiential offerings.”

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

2 Responses

  1. Please bring back some old memories. Do not trying to copycat Buckhead or Atlantic Station. Do it your own way to make it beautiful. Get rid of those junk store around them and turn them into a much better to it a successful for people to enjoy both work and live around the area.

  2. The sad part about this is that they didn’t invite downtown neighbors to the charrette to ask for our input

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