Mar 29, 2024 - News

Project that could bring an NHL team back to Atlanta wins approval

A rendering of the exterior of the arena at The Gathering at South Forsyth mixed use development

A rendering of the arena at The Gathering at South Forsyth. Photo: Krause Sports & Entertainment/SCI Architects

Despite Forsyth commissioners approving an agreement to develop an 84-acre site in hopes of attracting an NHL team, developers are expressing concerns over tweaks made to its initial framework with the county.

Why it matters: The Gathering at South Forsyth promises to transform a site that once was slated for a mall into a $2 billion entertainment hub similar to The Battery Atlanta in Cobb County.

The latest: Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with developers behind the project, which would add hotels, 150 homes, 1,800 multi-family units, 1.6 million square feet of office and retail space, and an 18,5000-seat arena along Union Hill Road at Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

  • The development, which will be built in phases, is also close to where the Georgia DOT is building a new Ga. 400 interchange at McGinnis Ferry Road.

What's inside: The MOU stipulates developers will pay for the construction of office, commercial/retail and hotel space, multi-family homes and single-family homes, a fire station and sheriff's office precinct and a connection to the Big Creek Greenway.

  • The county would invest $225 million into the project, contingent upon the NHL awarding a hockey franchise to the area.
  • It would own the arena, but its operator will maintain the facility for the duration of the lease.

Friction point: The Gathering said in its press release that some last-minute changes were "not originally agreed to by the county team empowered to negotiate."

  • Those changes include allowing developers to build retail space and hotels in phase one of the project and construct the arena and 600 planned multi-family units in phase two.
  • Vernon Krause, owner of the property and CEO of Krause Sports & Entertainment, said his partners "will review the changes to see if we can work toward finalization or end our efforts."
  • "However, the county cannot keep moving the goal line if that is to happen," he said.

More than a dozen people spoke in favor of the project, some of whom wore hockey jerseys to show their support.

  • Tom Burgess, a Forsyth resident who plays on two teams for the Atlanta Amateur Hockey League, noted that the metro area has the second-largest amateur league in the country.
  • Betty Russell told commissioners the "intrinsic value of the scope of this amenity destination is priceless" because the county will be able to host events like graduations, concerts and Disney on Ice.

The other side: There were a few residents who were opposed to the project. Brian Hudes said he's concerned that the county-owned arena would not pay taxes.

  • "We're putting $225 million on the line," he said, adding he wants to know if there's a guarantee that the tax base generated by the development will be enough to cover the cost to the county.

What's next: The agreement has to go through another legal review by the county due to the changes. However, even if all parties are satisfied, developers won't turn dirt any time soon.

  • They will still have to go through the planning and zoning process.
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