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$1B Development Plan For Area Next To Georgia World Congress Center Begins To Take Shape

One of the convention buildings at the Georgia World Congress Center.

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority is flexing its development muscle, this time with plans to add $1B in new commercial and residential projects next to its sprawling convention center campus.

The state-run authority responsible for the 1.5M SF convention center in Downtown Atlanta is floating a new master plan that would see heavy development on state-owned parking lots next to the building and the knitting together of pedestrian access from the Congress Center to Atlanta’s Westside, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported.

A master plan designed by Atlanta architectural firm HKS and revealed during an April 30 GWCCA board meeting shows the potential for new hotels and townhomes on the Blue Lot along Northside Drive, with a possible pedestrian bridge connecting it to the convention center property, according to the ABC. The property could also offer pedestrian access to the Westside BeltLine Connector, a 1.7-mile spur trail to the larger BeltLine that connects the Westside to Downtown directly.

The move would allow the convention center's Northside Drive portion to no longer be “an island unto itself, but part of a larger planned development,” GWCCA Executive Director Frank Poe said during the meeting, according to the ABC. 

HKS envisions GWCC’s Yellow Lot and an adjacent marshaling yard along Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard and property next to MARTA’s CNN Center station as a mix of creative office, multifamily and a grocery store.

The GWCCA oversees operations of the convention center, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new Signia by Hilton hotel and Centennial Olympic Park. The 40-story, 976-room Signia convention center hotel is the most recent new development on the Congress Center property, opening its doors earlier this year.

Officials said the master plan is just an early vision of possible redevelopment options, and no funding has been identified, the AJC reported.

The new master plan comes a month after the GWCCA issued a request for qualifications from development partners to transform the 11-acre green space next to Mercedes-Benz Stadium into 250K SF of entertainment and hospitality uses. The site, sandwiched between Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the Signia hotel, is called the Home Depot Backyard and is used for pop-up events, the AJC reported

HKS partner Sheba Ross said the master plan is fluid and could change due to market forces, the AJC reported. The more immediate priorities will focus on improving pedestrian access throughout the property, Poe said at the meeting.

“This is a framework. It’s a kit of parts that tests all of these ideas,” Ross said.