At long last, the Atlanta Housing (AH) board of commissioners has tapped a team to redevelop Old Fourth Ward’s long-dormant Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center site.
The joint venture of Tishman Speyer, headquartered in New York, and Atlanta’s H.J. Russell & Co. secured the coveted job of breathing new life into the 14-acre property, touting plans to build 1,300 new residences. Details on their winning proposal were scant at AH’s monthly board meeting, but the 1,300 housing units include 430 units that the agency is defining as affordable, because they’ll be priced at or below 100% of the area median income.
An evaluation committee made up of AH officials, City of Atlanta representatives, Invest Atlanta, and the community narrowed down the list of proposals from a final list of three development teams. Trish O’Connell, AH’s deputy chief real estate officer, call the Tishman-Russell joint venture’s the “best and final” during the agency’s May 25 meeting.
The decision ends years of delays for the much-needed redevelopment. It’s also the first AH vote by four new board members appointed by Mayor Andre Dickens earlier this month: Sarah Kirsch, Doug Hooker, Duriya Farooqui, and Larry Stewart.
The property, which includes the iconic Civic Center Auditorium, has sat vacant since 2014. Texas-based developer Weingarten Realty (now Kimco Realty) had in 2015 contracted with AH to redevelop the site, then owned by the city, at a projected cost of $300 million, but the firm abandoned the deal in 2016.
AH took the Civic Center off the city’s hands for $31 million in 2017, as part of the housing authority’s effort to streamline the site’s redevelopment.But the redevelopment plan stalled when the agency found itself ensnared in an unrelated legal battle with developer Integral Group around the same time. AH and Integral reached a settlement agreement in February.
Once AH and its selected developers finalize a master development agreement—a process Jones has told Atlanta Civic Circle should happen quickly—agency officials will seek financing and establish a project timeline.
Tishman Speyer and H.J. Russell’s blueprints for the Civic Center are expected to incorporate ideas from University of Maryland graduate students, who recently won a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development contest to brainstorm ways to reinvent the site. How their ideas, which included more and cheaper residences, will factor in remains to be seen.