Five years ago, the Midtown Mile was set to be Atlanta’s answer to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and New York’s Madison Avenue. The stretch of Peachtree Street from 15th Street to North Avenue was going to be a tree-line boulevard filled with luxury apartments, hotels, restaurants, one million square feet of retail space and a streetcar to ferry residents and visitors.
Then the economic meltdown began and the rapid construction that had been taking place in Midtown ground to a halt. The planned streetcar line was removed from the city’s short list of transportation priorities.
After more than two years of recession and the bottoming out of the real estate market, the Midtown Mile is showing signs of life once again.
Daniel Corp and Selig Enterprises announced construction of 77 12th Street, a 22-story apartment building at 12th and Crescent with 300 units and 20,000 square feet of street level retail. Construction is set to begin this fall, and the developers also have plans for a hotel and office space as part of the 12th & Midtown project.
And although not on the Midtown Mile, Novare Group has announced it will build SkyHouse, a 23-story building with 320 luxury apartments on West Peachtree at 12th Street. It will be quick walk to the Mile and its amenities.
The Midtown Alliance’s new CEO, Kevin Green, said the economy slowed the pace of new development and there is still plenty of catching up to do with job growth, but Midtown is positioned to bounce back faster than other parts of the city.
Green said there is a growing segment of the population who want to live in the city and bee able to walk to work, shops and restaurants. “They want to be here instead of getting here,” he said.
Since the recession, there has been more discussion about building a denser city core and Green agrees that more high-rise apartments are needed. “It’s become an attractive option for many,” he said. “It’s great to see Daniel, Selig and Novare are recognizing the need.”
As INtown reported last month, condo sales are on the upswing again, but bringing in new retail to the Midtown Mile will be a different challenge.
Before the recession, there were rumors that Apple was interested in building a flagship store on the Mile along with other high-end national retailers. While those stores have never come to fruition, smaller shops and restaurants – including Ri Ra Irish Pub and the soon to open STK – have made their home on the Mile. Modern home furnishing store CB2 opened a 14,000 square foot retail store at 1080 Peachtree. Green said new retailers will be coming to the Mile and announcements will be made soon.
In the meantime, Green said the Midtown Alliance is working on projects like new unified signage to direct visitors to parking spaces and producing “pop up shopping” events to help existing retailers. On Sept. 8 -11 will see the Vogue Fashion Night Out on the Mile with apparel and jewelry. The popular Holiday Pop Up Shops will also return. The Street Food Thursday event, which brings the city’s food trucks to the park at 15th Street, draws hundreds every week.
Green, who had only been on the job a week when this interview was conducted, said he left his post as executive director at the Clean Air Campaign because of the amazing opportunity to help Midtown grow.
“I’m looking out my window right now and I can already see the efforts that have been achieved and there is much more to come,” Green said.