Apr 11, 2024 - Real Estate

South Downtown's new owners plan community's comeback

An aerial photo of a downtown area with a street grid and trees and a large stadium in the background

The South Downtown project covers 10 city blocks near Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Photo: James Cool

Two Atlanta tech entrepreneurs are betting on co-working and housing to help historic South Downtown find its future.

Why it matters: The neighborhood south of Five Points is where railroad workers, settlers and merchants started writing Atlanta's story in the early 1800s.

  • It has all the bones a good community needs — rail transit stops, a walkable street grid, authentic buildings — yet has struggled to gain traction.

Yes, but: Today, the 10-block area is part of a multibillion-dollar development boom kicking into overdrive to accommodate the 2026 World Cup and a never-ending need for more housing.

Catch up quick: In January, David Cummings and Jon Birdsong of Atlanta Tech Village purchased all but one of the 50 parcels and histori buildings that German developer Newport RE spent years assembling and renovating.

  • Newport had grand plans of wooing residents, workers and shoppers to the neighborhood but was hobbled by the pandemic, war in Ukraine and high interest rates.

Zoom in: The South Downtown team's 40-year vision kicked off shortly after getting the keys by opening a second Atlanta Tech Village location called Mason's.

  • 150 members of the Buckhead space who live in Midtown, Old Fourth Ward or Castleberry Hill have signed up to use the space in addition to 50 new members.

The team plans additional co-working spaces coupled with housing, retail and restaurants. They're prioritizing work on Mitchell Street's historic Hotel Row district and preparing for the World Cup.

State of play: On Monday, the newest Spiller Park coffee shop location opened on Hotel Row. Tyde Tate Kitchen, the second location of the Chattahoochee Food Works' Thai restaurant, opened this past year.

What they're saying: Between CIM Group's Centennial Yards construction spree, Underground Atlanta's new life as a nightlife spot, and the continued draw of Atlanta United, all the signals are pointing to progress.

  • "There are all these forces that are saying, 'this is going to work, this is going to work, this is going to work,'" he said.

The big picture: On a recent walk in the neighborhood, Birdsong pointed out where several parking lots in their portfolio could become housing and potential shops and services to make the community a full-service neighborhood.

What's next: Several parcels are near MARTA's Garnett Station and are prime spots for pop-up experiences greeting soccer fans hopping off transit to attend the World Cup festivities.

The bottom line: Rebuilding a neighborhood is a heavy lift that requires investment, patience and community support. "We're going to be patient but also acting with urgency," Birdsong says. "We're placing all our bets on Atlanta."

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