Urban Fellows Learn About the Planned Redevelopment of Underground Atlanta

img_5757When Underground Atlanta was redeveloped in the late 80s, the focus was on creating a destination that centered on retail, restaurants, and public space.  While that model worked for many years, it no longer works today.

On August 23rd, Kristi Rooks presented “Creating a Destination at Underground Atlanta” to the Urban Fellows students.  Rooks is a founding partner of Revel, LLC, an Atlanta design firm that was hired by WRS Real Estate to assist with planning the redevelopment of Underground Atlanta.  WRS Real Estate is the South Carolina real estate developer that bought Underground Atlanta from the City of Atlanta earlier this year after four years of negotiation.

The sale includes nine acres of property that covers four city blocks.  Rooks explained that they plan to honor the history of Underground, which is where the first railroad in Georgia began, but that each block will be developed separately and have its own unique identity.  Overall, they are planning for the area to have an “industrial vibe.”

This new mixed-use development will have an industrial vibe and will include student housing, market rate and affordable housing, restaurants, and modest retail.

“We are especially excited about developing “maker” space for musicians, food artisans, artists, and film production,” said Rooks.  These types of spaces are gaining in popularity across the country,combining experiences with retail.  For example, one of the food artisans Rooks hopes to attract is a chocolatier who can make products while patrons watch.  Rooks said their real hope is for these creative businesses to foster an ecosystem that allows other businesses to develop and radiate from the Underground property.

Student housing construction is scheduled to begin next year.  Construction for the other housing will take more time but should begin in 2019.

The Urban Fellows Program is an interdisciplinary initiative of the Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth in the College of Law.  Top graduate students are selected from across Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of City and Regional Planning to study and discuss issues related to urban growth with top decision makers.

Learn more about the Urban Fellows Program.


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