A New Vision for Atlanta’s Civic Center
Transforming a vision for an affordable residential community and cultural district in the heart of Atlanta from planning to solicitation to implementation
The Atlanta Civic Center is a site with deep significance to the city – both as a vestige of unfortunate Urban Renewal-era displacement of Black families and as an anchor in the Atlanta arts community over the subsequent 50 years. U3 Advisors hopes to honor both legacies throughout its next phase of life.
Atlanta Housing (AH) first engaged U3 Advisors in early 2018 to provide strategic real estate consulting services in connection with its development of the Atlanta Civic Center site, located at the edge of the city’s thriving Midtown district. AH closed on the 19-acre site in December 2017 with the goal of developing a truly mixed-income community to stabilize a neighborhood facing significant gentrification. In addition to low-income, workforce, and market-rate housing, AH envisioned civic space anchored by a renovated performing arts center, a grocery store, a school, office space, and more retail.
U3 assisted AH in engaging the architectural services of Beyer Blinder Belle and Lord Aeck Sargent to assess the reuse potential of the former Boisfeuillet Jones Civic Center building and develop a conceptual framework plan for the site. U3 then worked with AH to evaluate different development approaches and financial transaction structures in preparation for bringing the site – and its development concepts – to market through a developer solicitation process.
U3 was re-engaged by AH again in 2021 to competitively market the site to developers. Over the course of 12 months, U3 coordinated a two-step Request for Qualifications / Request for Proposals process with agency staff, which included managing market analysis and publishing and evaluating the solicitation. To ensure fair comparisons could be made between distinctly unique proposals, U3 assisted AH in analyzing financial models and affordable subsidy structures, leveling bids, conducting developer interviews with agency staff, and advising AH on the negotiation of term sheets and Best and Final Offers.
With U3’s guidance, AH selected a proposal that will result in the creation of more than 1,500 multifamily units (39% of which would be affordable). U3 remains involved in guiding AH in negotiating definitive documentation for conveyance to the selected developer.
In parallel with the predevelopment process for the mixed-income housing, U3 worked with AEA Consulting to understand how the 4,600-seat Performing Arts Center could be reactivated as a cultural hub. After interviewing a cross-section of the Atlanta arts ecosystem, U3 guided negotiations with the selected developer to create a business plan that could restore the previously long-vacant Performing Arts Center to its nationally relevant role.
By full build-out, the $1B+ development is expected to produce 2.2M square feet of residential, commercial, and civic space.