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Global health district secures lease at Midtown’s Tower Square

A rendering of the conference facility of the new Global Health Innovation District (Special)

By Maria Saporta

With the signing of a 200,000 square foot lease in Midtown, Georgia has taken a major step to create a global health innovation district.

Global health leaders on Tuesday announced that the lease will bring new life to the now-empty 47-story tower once used by AT&T and its predecessor companies — BellSouth and Southern Bell. It is located at the entrance of the North Avenue MARTA Station.

When the Center for Global Health Innovation opens about a year from now, the collaborative space will serve as an intersection of global health, health technology and life sciences. It will help solidify the Atlanta region as the world’s global health capital.

“It will serve as a magnet,” said Clark Dean, a founding board member and executive managing partner of the Transwestern real estate company, which helped put together the project. “The economic development potential of this is enormous. People want to locate their businesses in places where they can be challenged and enlightened by others. It’s not just technology. It’s not just life sciences. It’s not just public health. It’s not just nonprofits. It’s all of the above.”

Maria Thacker Goethe, CEO of the Center for Global Health Innovation, wrote in an email that while Atlanta has been known as “the epicenter of public health,” it has never had a physical place where the greater global health community can come together.

“The Center for Global Health Innovation will transform health outcomes through collaboration of our global health community with private sector innovators and leading researchers in one physical space,” Thacker Goethe said.

The Center also will fulfill two separate decades-long dreams, Goethe added.

A rendering of the conference facility of the new Global Health Innovation District. (Special.)

In 1999, the Atlanta Coalition for Global Health was formed by Dr. Bill Foege to find ways for global health organizations to collaborate more effectively. At the same time, the bioscience sector envisioned a bold initiative to build a central location to catalyze the growth of the life sciences industry.

“The launch of this Innovation District realizes both of these dreams centered around collaboration,” Thacker Goethe said. “It creates a mission-driven, neutral epicenter to enable more effective industry partnerships; a place to bring traditional and non-traditional partners together to enable each other to realize their shared goals.”

Atlanta is home to leading global health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC Foundation, the Task Force for Global Health, the American Cancer Society, MedShare, MAP International and the Carter Center among numerous other global nonprofits.

Those entities feed off of Georgia’s research universities, including Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia.

The region also has a strong foundation in the life sciences and digital health sector, including UCB, Alcon, Sharecare, Microsoft, Boehringer Ingelheim, Takeda, Becton Dickinson, VERO Bio, MiRus, McKesson, Jackson Healthcare, Azalea Health and more.

The new district is being launched by a strategic partnership that includes an anonymous West Coast foundation, Atlanta-based Sharecare and Transwestern.

It is the culmination of a four-year-long effort begun by 60 of Atlanta’s global health leaders and over 200 community volunteers across leading organizations convened by the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Deloitte, Georgia Bio and the Georgia Global Health Alliance — the latter two merged to form the Center for Global Health Innovation.

Thacker Goethe said the new district will be a natural extension of Tech Square. “This District is going to be the heart of innovation in the Southeast out of which we will not only grow economic opportunities but also address important health equity issues,” Thacker Goethe said.

Dean said the Center already has raised about $30 million to build out the new space, and it has another $30 million in pending grants for programming. But Dean said this is just the beginning. He envisions the Center attracting many other partners – corporate and philanthropic – who want to develop relationships in the global health and bio-science fields.

Chris Port, executive vice president of CBRE, is leading the leasing team for the Tower Square facility along with his partners Kyle Kenyon and Alex Port.

“Tower Square is proud to house this exciting innovation cluster,” Port said. “The building’s combination of premium location and visibility, institutional-grade infrastructure, column-free interiors, activatable balconies, and large-scale common area amenities, makes it perfect for businesses and institutions who want to attract the best minds in health and technology.”


Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


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