Sale of Turner Field closes – beginning a new chapter

By Maria Saporta

The sale of Turner Field to Georgia State University and Carter closed today – one of the most visible transactions during Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration.

The future of Turner Field was thrown into question when the Atlanta Braves surprisingly announced in November 2014 that they were moving to Cobb County and leaving the location where they had been for nearly 50 years. The Braves lease tend with the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority ended Dec. 31, 2016.

At the time of the announcement, Reed pledged to find a good alternative for Turner Field.

Turner Field

The Hank Aaron statue watches people going to the last Braves game at Turner Field (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“When this chapter of Atlanta’s history is written, I believe the sale of Turner Field will be counted among the most consequential redevelopment efforts in the life of our city,” Reed said in a statement Thursday.  “For the first time in over 30 years, the promise of a best-in-class mixed-use housing and retail development will be realized.”

Reed also praised the neighborhoods around Turner Field as well as Georgia State and Carter for working together to improve the area.

“The redevelopment offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring new amenities, transit and infrastructure to the Southeast stadium neighborhoods of Summerhill, Peoplestown, Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh and Grant Park,” Reed said. “The development team will also prioritize minority contractor participation and will ensure affordable housing is available for working families.”

After thanking Georgia State, Carter and Atlanta City Councilwoman Carla Smith, Reed said: “Finally, I want to thank the neighborhood residents and community leaders for their engagement, thoughtful ideas and hard work in getting this project done.”

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Reed said he had just signed one of the final documents needed to close the sale of Turner Field, which he said would happen any day.

Turner Field Hank Aaron

Mayor Kasim Reed announces Turner Field deal as Scott Taylor and Keisha Lance Bottoms listens (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Georgia State,, along with the Carter, Oakwood Development and Healey Weatherholtz joint venture, plan to build a mix of housing, retail, and athletic and academic space on the 68-acre site. Georgia State plans to convert Turner Field into a new home Panthers football.

Within the new ownership structure, Georgia State will control 38 acres, including the stadium and the Blue Lot, formerly the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. The Carter-led joint venture is purchasing 16 acres and ground-leasing an additional 13.5 acres from Georgia State.

The stadium conversion will begin in February, and a future phase of Georgia State’s portion of the redevelopment is planned to include a new baseball park at the site where Atlanta Fulton County Stadium once stood.

“We are extremely pleased to officially acquire the Turner Field site, and we are excited to be moving forward with a plan that will be transformative for the city and for Georgia State,” Georgia State President Mark P. Becker said in a release.

The Carter-led private development team will immediately commence plans for private student housing, market-rate multi-family and retail.

Turner Field

Turner Field part of redevelopment proposal by Georgia State University and Carter (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“Our joint venture looks at this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help transform this historic part of our city for generations to come,” said Scott Taylor, president of Carter. “We plan to reposition Hank Aaron Drive as one of Atlanta’s great streets and to strengthen the site’s connection with the surrounding neighborhoods with strong amenities and inclusive design.”

The Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, which owned Turner Field, agreed in August to sell the property for $30 million. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents approved the sale in November.

In an interview in December, Becker also talked about how Georgia State plans to honor legendary Braves player Hank Aaron, also known as the homerun king.

Plans for a Georgia State baseball park will be located on the site of the original Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, where Aaron hit his historic 715 homerun. Becker said GSU plans to pay tribute to Aaron and the Braves at that site.

When asked about the future of the Hank Aaron statue that is now in front of Turner Field, Becker said: “The statue will go where Hank Aaron wants it to go.”

For more information on the project, click on stadium.gsu.edu.

 

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.

7 replies
  1. InfraredGuy says:

    Unless and until the City of Atlanta takes an AGGRESSIVE approach to crime in the form of car break ins, car jacking, home invasions, drive by shooting and assaults on the streets, all Developments that include retail sales and residential housing in the downtown area will have limited success It’s a sure bet part of this deal has or will include some form of public financing like a TAD which only hurts the public school system which the City claims to care about but really does not. The people who suffer the most from this crime wave is the poor minority’s mostly elderly who can’t afford to move from these areas and have to live with the thug gangs. The APD has been reduced to an investigative role not a prevention role in law enforcement due to inaction by elected City leaders, lots of finger pointing but no real action, so will go the legacy of Reed.Report

    Reply
  2. atlman says:

    InfraredGuy

    Pardon me, but when was the last drive-by shooting ANYWHERE in Atlanta? You have no idea what you are talking about. You are also unaware that crime rates – including murder and violent crime – are lower now than they were in the early 1970s. Lower than they were before Maynard Jackson ushered in the new leadership. Lower now than they were before the white flight to Cobb, Gwinnett and the suburbs that happened as a result of the new political leadership. You are also unaware that businesses and residents are already moving into downtown, midtown and other parts of non-Buckhead Atlanta that were previously considered “high crime” and “unsafe” and have been for several years. Just yesterday, Athena Health announced yet another expansion downtown, bringing in another batch of over 1,000 highly paid tech workers. Most of whom will likely stay in the new massive condo development that is being built right across the street from where Athena Health, NCR and a bunch of other companies are relocating and expanding, overlooking the much-maligned Beltline and not far from the streetcar route in an area that you probably regard to be a high-crime war zone filled with driveby shootings and car jackings because you have never set foot in that area, you know absolutely no one who lives in that area and know nothing about it.

    Look, I am no liberal. I dislike the fact that Atlanta’s leadership is uniformly liberal and Democrat, as are urban leaders generally. However, the Atlanta leadership is far more moderate and pro-business than urban leaders in, say, Detroit. And Reed – save on social issues – has been the most pro-business and centrist of the bunch. It was Reed who actually went out and hired a competent police commissioner. It was Reed who pressured MARTA to hire a competent leader. It was Reed who stood up to the public employee unions and got the pensions situation under control. Back when he was in the legislature, it was Reed who helped force out the worst members of the APS school board, and in the process helped create the mechanism that allowed governor Deal to step in and save DeKalb County’s accreditation by doing the same. It was Reed who hired a competent police commissioner who increased the size of the police force by nearly 50%, stepped up patrols and substations, handed out new equipment and technology AND DID IT DURING A RECESSION WHEN FAR LESS REVENUE WAS COMING INTO THE CITY (in contrast with the typical urban political regime which uses recessions as an excuse to gut the police force). Now unfortunately the increased spending and emphasis on the police force seems to have come at the expense of the fire department, but that is another story for another day. A story that you do not know? Of course not because you do not live in the city!!! But THAT is why crime fell in Atlanta during Reed’s tenure even as it increased in places like Chicago and Baltimore. And it is because of the drastically lowered crime rates that businesses and lots of residents are now paying exhorbitant sums of money to move into areas of the city that they would have been too terrified to spend 5 minutes in during the day – let alone spend the night – as recently as the Shirley Franklin administration.

    Those are the facts from someone who actually lives in the city. And while I have many of areas that I disagree with Reed, I shudder to think of what would happen were he to be replaced with the likes of Vincent Fort or Cathy Woolard. But that is the future, but right now I am enjoying the present: more jobs, more businesses and restaurants, more families and young people, more parks, and much more safe as compared to a few years ago. It more than makes up for losing the Braves and Thrashers. Were folks such as yourself to actually come inside the city and talk to some of the people who live there, you would know that.

    P..S. the vast majority of the new police officers that were hired during Reed’s tenure? White males. But then again, you would actually have to live in the city or spend time in it to know that.Report

    Reply
  3. Burroughston Broch says:

    atlman InfraredGuy   Drive-by shootings are all too common in Atlanta City, and we’ve all seen them spread across local news. “If it bleeds, it leads” is the news media mantra. No one keeps track anymore except the police. Go to the AJC and develop your own statistic, if you want.
    Your demand for a statistic doesn’t invalidate what InfraredGuy posted.Report

    Reply

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