Two of Atlanta Housing’s long-overdue redevelopment projects, the Atlanta Civic Center and Bowen Homes, are finally showing serious signs of promise, after years of disruptions knocked them both off track.
Eugene Jones, AH’s chief executive, announced Wednesday at the housing agency’s monthly board meeting that it had executed a master development agreement for the long-idle Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center property—and secured a $40 million Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant to revitalize the Westside’s former Bowen Homes public housing site and surrounding neighborhoods. AH owns both properties.
Atlanta Civic Center
AH’s board of commissioners last August selected the joint venture of Republic Properties, the Michaels Organization, and Sophy Capital—two national developers and a local minority-owned investor—to build 1,311 new residences on about 15 of the iconic Old Fourth Ward property’s 20 acres. Executing the master development agreement with them allows the project to move forward.
The potentially billion-dollar mixed-use project envisions 305 government-subsidized rental units, another 220 units priced as affordable for households earning up to 80% of the area median income (AMI)—or $77,120 for a family of four—and 786 market-rate units. The project includes restaurants, retail, office space, and a hotel, according to the development team’s winning bid in 2022.
The Civic Center has been sitting idle since 2014, as two previous redevelopment plans for the site fell apart—one last August, when New York-based Tishman Speyer unexpectedly backed out of a deal with AH without explanation, and another in 2015, when Texas’s Weingarten Realty (now Kimco Realty) withdrew from a similar agreement.
The $40 million Choice Neighborhoods grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development goes to AH and the city of Atlanta to fund construction and infrastructure improvements to the 74-acre Bowen Homes site and the adjacent Carey Park neighborhood, along with a portion of Almond Park and segments along the Donald Lee Hollowell and James Jackson Parkways—collectively designated the Bowen Choice Neighborhood.
“This grant will be transformational for the Bowen Choice Neighborhood, as public and private resources are combined to create new affordable housing, improve neighborhood amenities and provide new opportunities for current and former residents,” AH CEO Jones said in an announcement.
The Bowen Homes site has been growing over with tall grass and weeds since the former public housing project was demolished in 2009. Last October, AH finally picked The Benoit Group and McCormack Baron Salzer as master developers for the massive mixed-use project, which will include 2,000 new housing units—1,800 of them rentals. More than 40% of those units—825 apartments—will be priced as affordable for households earning up to 80% of the AMI.
When AH picked The Benoit Group and McCormack Baron Salazar last fall, it said the project would break ground in late 2023 or early 2024. That news came about 12 years after the local neighborhood planning unit (NPU-G) helped craft a blueprint for the community’s revitalization in 2010.
The housing authority’s board of commissioners was initially supposed to tap a development team to lead the Bowen Homes-area project in February 2022. But when Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced his office had brokered an unexpected settlement in an unrelated legal battle between AH and developer Integral Group—a years-long saga over development rights to other AH-owned properties—the board backburnered a planned vote on a master developer for Bowen Homes.
The first phase of construction is expected to wrap in 2025, although the entire project could take until 2032 to complete.