Mayor Kasim Reed announced that the City of Atlanta has sold the Civic Center to the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) for $31 million. Mayor Reed was joined by AHA President and CEO Catherine Buell and Invest Atlanta General Counsel and Senior Vice President Rosalind Rubens Newell for the announcement. AHA will partner with Weingarten Realty Investors to develop plans for the site, which is expected to result in a $300 million total investment, and will commit to 30 percent affordable housing at a time when affordability and mobility are the most important issues facing our city.
“I am pleased to announce today that the City has closed on the sale of the Civic Center to our partners at the Atlanta Housing Authority, which has committed to making 30 percent of new residential units at this property affordable to low-income and working families,” said Mayor Reed. “Good things take time. Through its focus on affordable housing, the redevelopment of the Civic Center property will give families and working people the opportunity to live in an area with access to transit, employment and good schools. Moreover, this new development will be an asset to the neighborhood, further adding to the vibrancy and vitality of Midtown and Downtown Atlanta. I am thankful to our partners in this effort, and am excited to see what the future holds.”
Through its HomeFlex program, AHA will build 250 low-income housing units. Through its bond inducement requirements, Invest Atlanta will support development of at least 10 percent workforce housing units. Overall, at least 30 percent of new residential units will be affordable to low-income and working families.
“We’re happy that we can help execute this game-changing acquisition,” says Catherine Buell, president and CEO of the Atlanta Housing Authority. “As the site land owner, we can collaborate with all parties in a way that allows AHA to structure and guarantee a level of permanent affordability.”
The mixed-use development will also incorporate retail and commercial space, with consideration given to a performing arts venue.
“The redevelopment of the Civic Center will be a transformative project for north Downtown, bringing new jobs, investment, and amenities to the area,” said Rosalind Rubens Newell, general counsel for Invest Atlanta. “It will also create much-needed affordable workforce housing in the heart of our city, making it easier for more city residents to live near employment centers like Midtown and Downtown. Today’s announcement represents another important step forward in our work to increase economic vitality, mobility, and equity for all Atlantans.”
AHA will also partner with Southface Energy Institute to emphasize green building and sustainability efforts, and will develop a program to ensure residents are able to be part of the development effort and the sustainability movement.
“The potential for the Civic Center redevelopment is quite limitless. Mayor Reed is leading the charge for the City of Atlanta, and this project is a testament to his commitment to sustainability and resilience. As a long-term partner to the City, Southface is truly excited by the outcomes of the project and we look forward to supporting the Mayor in achieving his vision for affordable, healthy and efficient housing,” said Andrea Pinabell, president of Southface.
The City of Atlanta issued a request for proposals to purchase and redevelop the Civic Center in 2015. After initial conversations for a sale stalled, Mayor Reed sought out new opportunities to jumpstart the process and to redevelop the site. At the same time, the city was losing affordable housing units, making the need for additional affordable housing an urgent priority. In 2016, Mayor Reed approved an ordinance requiring developers receiving public subsidies and incentives to set aside 15 percent of units for affordable housing.
Mayor Reed announced plans to sell the Civic Center to the Atlanta Housing Authority for redevelopment in August of this year. The facility was built in 1968 in the historically African-American community known as Buttermilk Bottom. The Civic Center is no longer in use, but was previously a performing arts center; the site also included the SciTrek museum, and has been used as a location for multiple television shows and feature films.