Goodbye proposed Amtrak and Greyhound transit hub near Atlantic Station? Hello Fuqua's new development
Fuqua heads to Loring Heights for his latest mixed-use development
A nearly 14-acre swath of land west of Atlantic Station has remained vacant for the better part of the last decade. But what was once set to become a multi-modal transit hub could now be turned into a mixed-use development by an all-too-familiar face: Jeff Fuqua.
The vacant site located down the street from Atlanta Waterworks at the southeast corner of 17th Street and Northside Drive had once been eyed as a possible transit-oriented development that would include new Amtrak and Greyhound stations. Local real-estate developer Carter led the talks with Houston-based real-estate company Lionstone and the State Road and Tollway Authority, which each owned roughly half of the total land.
But the property went back on the market after Carter's talks broke down. SRTA Director of Marketing and Communications Malika Reed Wilkins tells CL the authority has received numerous inquiries for the site over the years. A key component for Carter's transit-oriented development included approximately $6 million in federal funding from Amtrak to help build a new ADA-compliant station and platform. However, the talks stalled, the federal cash eventually expired, and the deal fell apart.
"The loss of these funds, coupled with no other federally designated funds for the station and necessary track improvements, moved designing and funding a project that successfully incorporated transit as well as retail and residential uses from difficult to financially unfeasible," Wilkins says.
Once Carter withdrew its offer, SRTA placed the property, a frequent staging area for Hollywood film productions, back on the market. Fuqua Development approached SRTA with an offer, Wilkins says, and entered into an agreement with the authority. We've reached out to Lionstone to confirm the sale of the adjacent lot. According to Fulton County property records, both parcels of land comprising the site are worth more than $32 million.
"SRTA owning this vacant land is not the highest and best use of the property, and we look forward to returning it to the city of Atlanta’s tax rolls so it can provide some value for citizens and property tax revenue for the city," Wilkins says.
SRTA declined to disclose the sale price until the deal was finalized. But Fuqua's initial Loring Heights proposal — it comes on the heels of projects in Buckhead, outside Decatur, Morningside, and Glenwood Park, among others — includes approximately 350 multi-family units, 100 detached townhomes, and more than 35,000 square feet in retail space. Current plans call for a parking deck to be enclosed within the multi-story building and a surface lot near the retail shops. We've reached out to Fuqua for more information about the project that, according to his website, is "situated at center court in a dynamic burgeoning west midtown submarket."
Ron Grunwald, land-use chair for the Loring Heights Neighborhood Association, tells CL that Fuqua has met with him twice to discuss the project's impact on the community. He says Fuqua's proposal is an "appropriate" project that could benefit a neighborhood keen on redeveloping the nearby Bishop Street corridor, where two more multi-family units are being proposed, each with about 250 units, and Stoddard's Range and Guns is about to open for business.
Fuqua's plan isn't perfect, in Grunwald's opinion. He says he would have liked to have seen a proposal with more density. And Grunwald has yet to see the site's architectural style. But overall, he says, Fuqua has been "proactive" and "accommodating" in the process. The developer also agreed to provide a traffic study for the development's impact on the bustling intersection, Grunwald says.
"I think Fuqua's proposal has elements that are good for the neighborhood," he says. "They're proposing what they're proposing. They're proposing restaurants and townhomes that would be really nice. I think it continues the development of Atlantic Station to the west. They are positive aspects. I'd always like to see more density. But I know the reality too, though, that density doesn't always become warranted or it isn't in the budget."
Grunwald says Fuqua's project will need to go through the city's rezoning process to allow residential and commercial uses on the site. That process will begin during a Loring Heights Neighborhood Association land-use meeting that's scheduled for next Thursday at 7 p.m. inside Midtown Church. That meeting will be followed by a full LHNA meeting on Oct. 27, where residents are expected to vote on whether they favor rezoning the land.
We've reached out to Amtrak and Greyhound to hear what's next for both companies in Atlanta. If we hear back, we'll post an update.