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Microsoft Announces Major Atlanta Investment, Including 90-Acre Campus, Housing, Data Centers

Microsoft Real Estate Portfolio Manager Jeffrey Brown at Microsoft's under-construction Atlantic Yards office in Midtown Atlanta.

Microsoft is shedding more light on the ambitious plans it has for its recent real estate purchase in Atlanta, including carving out a portion of Quarry Yards for affordable housing and other community infrastructure needs.

In a multifaceted announcement Thursday, the technology giant confirmed that it plans to expand its corporate presence in Atlanta, including creating a data center region in both Fulton and Douglas counties and adding many more employees to its roster in the metro area.

“These are all significant investments and put Atlanta on the path toward becoming one of Microsoft's largest hubs in the United States in the coming decade, after Puget Sound and Silicon Valley,” Microsoft officials said in a press release.

Last September, Microsoft purchased 90 acres contiguous to Westside Park at Bellwood Quarry in Atlanta from former baseball star Mark Teixeira, who previously planned to develop a mixed-use project there. The tech giant said 25% of that acreage will be set aside for affordable housing and other needs for the local community, including retail and groceries.

While Microsoft has unveiled its sweeping intentions for Quarry Yards and Atlanta, some details are still unknown, including how many people it ultimately plans to employ in the region and how much office it intends to build. Bisnow previously reported, through sources with knowledge of the plans, that Microsoft aims to develop a corporate campus at Quarry Yards that would eventually house 15,000 employees, a number that would rank Microsoft among the 10 largest employers in Metro Atlanta.

“When we open the doors to our offices in Atlantic Yards this summer, we will be able to seat 2,500 employees across the region, including our sales locations in Alpharetta, Buckhead and Midtown. And this number will grow further as we scope and build out facilities in Quarry Yards and Quarry Hills,” Microsoft officials said in a release.

Last year, Microsoft announced that it planned to lease Hines' 700K SF project in Atlantic Station. Once occupied, Microsoft officials said it would be home to 1,500 employees. Microsoft President Brad Smith, speaking during a press conference Thursday morning along with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Gov. Brian Kemp, said more jobs were to come.

“We are going to be creating jobs here and we want to fill them with people who are growing up here,” Smith said.

With the Quarry Yards project, located on the Westside of Atlanta within the Grove Park neighborhood, Microsoft officials said in a release that the company wants to take its time to make sure that the impact does not create “downsides” that “can outweigh this promise” of “huge potential.”

Those efforts include continued neighborhood outreach before making decisions about the design of Quarry Yards, committing to being "a carbon negative, water positive, zero-waste" company by 2030, as well as reinvesting in the community.

During Thursday's press conference, Bottoms commended Microsoft's approach to economic development, especially in the Westside of Atlanta, by not pushing existing residents out of the conversation.

“A lot of times, our communities are looking through the windowpane, their noses pressed against the glass, thinking and feeling that this progress is for somebody else,” she said.

The cities of East Point and Palmetto are to be part of a planned expansion for Microsoft's data center footprint. The company didn't release any details on the number of data center buildings that would be involved. Last year, Microsoft's Azure division purchased a site in Palmetto in a development called Shugart Farms where it plans to build a 250K SF data center.

“We have worked hard to build a vibrant community to attract investment and growth. Having a brand name like Microsoft locate in our city speaks to the quality of our community,” East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham said in a release.