$6.5 billion investment planned for downtown Atlanta over 5 years

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) — Downtown officials shared a new investment map that outlined $6.5 billion south of downtown over the next five years.

“This investment is really bringing in retail. It brings restaurants. It brings better public and green spaces for people to enjoy on their lunch break or between meetings,” said Alena Green, director of Central Atlanta Progress economic development.

Green compiled those data from recently completed, underway, or planned public and private projects in South Atlanta on 65 acres in downtown Atlanta.

“We’re going to see a doubling of residential units in our downtown over the next 5 years,” Green said.

She said many new resorts will have nearly a quarter of dedicated affordable units.

She added that there are already signs the downtown area has revitalized significantly since the height of the pandemic.

Green said traffic was up 50% year over year.

In Summerhill, which has seen significant recent development, some neighbors have said they are concerned that this growth will prioritize the affluent.

“I feel like if I work here, I should be able to live here in the city too,” Messiah Jones said. “I shouldn’t have to stay on the outskirts and work in the city,” Jones said.

CBS46 contacted the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association. The agents provided this statement in an email:

Ensuring that these projects contribute to good infrastructure for people in the city center – we totally agree.

We’re really excited and believe these projects have huge potential for positive impact.

Fortunately, urban planning trends and the growing understanding of good urban planning are on our side! That said, the parking lot stands to threaten everything. No matter what’s built, if lawmakers, developers, and Atlanta residents can’t agree on embracing carless transit, we’re destined for traffic jams and sad blocks of nothing but parking lots forever. Glad to see City Council (Dozier) in conversation with developers (CIM) regarding parking minimums etc.

The timeline, policy, funding, etc. also pose a threat to them. As residents, we are delighted to have all the opportunities these developments promise (places to dine, shop, socialize, etc.), but if history and past mistakes/experiences have taught us anything, is that we could wait years (or forever) for the promised evolutions. However, it is these past disappointments that make clear progress and the gradual activation of ongoing projects extremely exciting!

We also want to include that PUBLIC space and PUBLIC access are essential. While all of these entities own their separate (massive) parts of downtown, they have all the more responsibility to provide quality public space accessible to all as this is currently lacking and developments in Atlanta tend to create beautiful rooftops, courtyards, etc. to office workers or residents of an apartment complex or by admission ticket.

David H. Henry