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Maria Saporta WABE

Philips Arena overhaul could include The ‘Gulch’

The $1 billion redevelopment of the Gulch, in downtown Atlanta, is headed by a company whose subsidiary just sold a 70 percent stake in a Brooklyn project to raise money. Credit: curbatlanta.com
Rendering of new Philips Arena

Rendering of how the revamped Philips Arena will look in the fall of 2018 (Special: Atlanta Hawks)

Original Story on WABE by Maria Saporta

The $192.5 million renovation plan for Philips Arena could also include upgrades to land between Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Underground Atlanta and Centennial Olympic Park. According to this week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle, that includes what some call the “gulch.”

The gulch is the property under the Georgia World Congress Center and Philips Arena crisscrossed by railroad tracks.

During a Nov. 1 press conference, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta Hawks principal owner, Tony Ressler, expressed interest in developing beyond the stadium.

It’s even possible that Ressler’s brother — Richard Ressler, founder of Dallas-based development company CIM Group — could end up being the developer of the area around Philips.

“You’ve got Richard Ressler, who has expressed interest in developing the gulch,” Reed said during the press conference.

Tony Ressler elaborated, “As we said from the first day we took over (the NBA franchise), we were committed to rebuilding … the Atlanta Hawks foundation to help develop the downtown area to be the best center it can be.”

“My brother’s CIM Group is probably the largest urban developer in America today,” Ressler continued. “He has been spending time in Atlanta looking to figure out ways they can help. We have tried our best to participate in the redevelopment of a worldclass franchise here for the next 35 years.”

The $192.5 million renovation of Philips includes an 18-year lease extension for the Atlanta Hawks to remain in the downtown Atlanta arena through 2046.

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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  1. Carl Holt November 5, 2016 11:32 am

    Does this include the potential MMPT?Report

  2. Chad Carlson November 5, 2016 4:04 pm

    Potential is the key word, there’s no money to pay for it currently.Report

  3. Chad Carlson November 5, 2016 4:07 pm

    If development includes massive parking lots and fancy high-priced hotels for those from out of town like what Arthur Blank is envisioning around the new Falcons Coliseum, we should have no part of it.Report

  4. Thomas Wheatley November 5, 2016 5:49 pm

    I have asked the administration about how the MMPT would play a role and have only been told that it’s not a priority for Reed.Report

  5. Burroughston Broch November 6, 2016 5:12 pm

    The railroads own the Gulch property and thus the air rights. Notice that they are not mentioned in the article.Report

  6. Burroughston Broch November 6, 2016 5:16 pm

    I suspct the MMPT is a dead project. Atlanta City doesn’t want it, the Federal government has gone silent, and the railroads don’t want it.Report

  7. writes_of_weigh November 7, 2016 10:13 pm

    The MMPT site is at a little ol’ rail junction once known as Terminus, and much like an acorn is to an oak tree, provided for the most important raison d’ etre of Atlanta’s position as a logistics hub……namely CONNECTIVITY. IF there might one day be H-S-R service to/through Atlanta, the radiating lines MUST CROSS somewhere. Currently that point known to some railroaders as the “zero milepost”, which is within the general “gulch” area, and the gist of this article, is precisely located to connect Florida and Georgia’s coastal rail traffic to mid-western routes and gulf coast rail traffic to the Carolinas and on to the northeast. I’m absolutely certain that someone must have the tens of billions of dollars which might be needed to “undo” this minor junction so that it won’t be in ya’lls way!?!Report

  8. Burroughston Broch November 8, 2016 11:03 am

    Which is precisely why the present owners will hold onto their property. They might be persuaded to sell the air rights for a very large sum.
    Don’t forget the railroads have been in business in Atlanta for over 170 years and have bought generations of politicians, bureaucrats, and judges. They have immense political power -remember when ACOG tried to shut them down during the 1996 Olympic Games?Report


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