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Portman’s $1 billion Midtown move: MARTA’s North Avenue Station, Patterson funeral home

David Pendered
MARTA, North Avenue Station, skylight Skylights are a signature of MARTA's North Avenue Station. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

By David Pendered

Portman Holdings has set its sights on $1 billion in development in Midtown – the $400 million remake of MARTA’s North Avenue Station, and the $600 million development a half-mile away, at the former H.M. Patterson & Son-Spring Hill site.

Portman, Midtown

Portman Holdings proposes $1 billion in development project in Midtown at two sites: The former Patterson & Son Spring Hill site, and MARTA’s North Avenue Station. Credit: Google Earth, David Pendered

The proposed development at the MARTA station is contingent upon approval by MARTA’s Board of Directors. At its June 11 meeting, the board is slated to vote on a staff proposal to begin negotiations with Portman for a single tower with space for office/hotel/retail. No residences are planned.

Portman has initiated governmental and public reviews of its plans for towers with office/hotel/residential/retail uses at the site of the former funeral home, 1020 Spring St. A Portman subsidiary paid $38.5 million for the site on Dec. 19, 2019, Fulton County tax records show. The county had valued the property at $8 million, tax records show.

Still to be determined is the appetite in the financial and consumer markets for big developments planned before COVID-19. City and regional planners also have a hand in reviewing the proposals before construction can begin.

If both projects proceed as planned, Portman would bring a significant amount of product to Midtown within five years. The two projects would provide a total of:

The skylights focus the view of surrounding structures like a picture frame at MARTA’s North Avenue Station. Credit: Kelly Jordan

  • Office – 1,180,000 square feet, presumably top-of-the-line Class A space. This total space is about the size of Lenox Square;
  • Hotel – 625 rooms;
  • Residences – 375 units in a 36-story tower at the Patterson site; no residential use at the MARTA site;
  • Parking spaces – 2,450.

Portman’s flag in Midtown recently has been raised above 1.3 million square feet of buildings that primarily provide office space. The first opened in 2019 and the third is to open in 2021. These include, according to information provided by MARTA:

  • Coda at Tech Square, opened in May 2019 at the site of the historic Crum & Forster Building with 645,000 square feet of mixed use office/retail space;
  • Anthem Technology Center, a build-to-suit structure that opened in February with 352,000 square feet that’s fully leased to Anthem, operator of Blue Cross Blue Shield in Georgia;
  • Anthem II, a build-to-suit structure with 310,000 square feet that broke ground in May 2019 and is to open in Spring 2021, and is 85 percent leased to Anthem.

Portman’s plans at MARTA’s North Avenue Station are the latest to be announced. They were presented May 27 by Debbie Frank, MARTA’s director of transit oriented development, to the Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee. The committee has purview over the city’s relation with MARTA.

The station site includes 1.6 acres of land, plus air rights, according to documents MARTA provided in 2019 in the request for proposals.

The proposed $400 million development is one building, though it may appear to be three structures, Frank said. The stack of uses include:

MARTA’s North Avenue Station would be retooled into a highrise office/hotel structure wtih 800 parking spaces and 10,000 square feet of retail space. Credit: MARTA

  • Street level – 10,000 square feet of retail;
  • Lower levels, unspecified – 800 parking spaces;
  • Upper levels, unspecified – office space, a total of 480,000 square feet; hotel rooms, 275 with, presumably, public space for guests that’s not specified.
  • No residences are planned.

Atlanta City Councilmember Amir Farokhi said he is glad to see a development planned at a site he said was, “dramatically underused.”

“The questions will come as this project starts to take place,” Farokhi said. “I’m happy to see the vision.”

Portman presented its plans on May 12 to the Development Review Committee, of Midtown Alliance. Plans call for a dense development at the site of the H.M. Patterson-Spring Hill site. Plans also are due for review by the Atlanta Regional Commission and GRTA, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

Portman Holdings is pursuing plans to build a development with apartments, hotel, office space and 1,650 parking spaces at the site of the former Patterson & Son-Spring Hill Chapel. Credit: MARTA

 

The proposal to build a development above and around MARTA’s North Avenue Station would replace the current Brutalist-inspired architecture with one that appears to favor glass and steel. Credit: MARTA

 

MARTA planners intend ask MARTA’s Board of Directors to authorize the start of negotiations with Portman Holdings to design and build a mixed use project on 1.55 acres at the North Avenue Station. The site is located in a burgeoning neighborhood in the southern reaches of Midtown. File/Credit: MARTA

 

MARTA, North Avenue Station, skylight

Skylights are a signature of MARTA’s North Avenue Station. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

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David Pendered
David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.

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