What Will Become of Underground Atlanta?


A few weeks ago, we reported that the City of Atlanta was looking to sell Underground Atlanta, the long-struggling retail destination in the downtown submarket. While Mayor Kasim Reed confirmed that the city will begin the process of unloading the asset, he also divulged that they have no buyers in mind as of yet. Over the years, there has been talk of redevelopment for the retail site, but nothing has come of these rumors as of yet.

So what will happen to Underground Atlanta is the city is indeed able to find a buyer? Five years ago, operating partner Dan O’Leary proposed the site be converted into a casino and accompanying hotel; revisiting this plans seems unlikely given the state’s recent pushback against gambling. Perhaps Georgia State University will continue its real estate acquisition streak and covert the asset better serve its growing student base. Redevelopment projects in urban, historic spaces have been all the rage, so perhaps this site is destined for a Ponce City Market like redevelopment. Since Underground Atlanta is technically a mall, another option for the site would be for an investor to purchase and reposition the property as a more upscale and exclusive retail destination.

The downtown submarket has gotten an incredible amount of attention in the past year for the amount of major projects currently underway. Attractions like the National College Football Hall of Fame, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the new $1 billion Falcons stadium will draw increasing numbers of visitors to the city. Underground Atlanta, if properly redeveloped or repositioned, could benefit from all of the increased tourism and once again become a unique and popular attraction in the city.


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