CIM Group has released renderings of its proposed redevelopment of The Gulch, a warren of below street-level parking lots and viaducts adjacent to Philips Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as the Atlanta City Council questions the potential cost to taxpayers.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has endorsed using public financing via bonds to get the $3.5 billion project off the ground. The Gulch would be transformed into a massive mixed-use development with 9 million square feet of office space, 1,000 residences (with a minimum of 200 units being affordable housing), 1,500 hotel rooms and 1 million square feet of retail and restaurant space. The development of the site would require the building of a $500 million platform to raise the development to street level and preserve parking and existing rail lines.
The site has also been touted as a location for Amazon’s second headquarters, dubbed HQ2.
Bond money generated for the project could reach upwards of a billion dollars and would primarily come from two sources: the Westside Tax Allocation District (TAD); and the Enterprise Zone Bond (EZ Bond).
Last year, the State Legislature passed a bill, which stipulates that any urban redevelopment project in excess of 400-million dollars can qualify for a sales tax exemption. The EZ bonds would allow CIM to use roughly five-cents of the City’s 8.9-cent sales tax to help fund the project. Eighty percent of that money is from the State of Georgia’s share of the sales tax; the remaining 20 percent is from Fulton County’s Local Option Sales Tax. Atlanta’s Municipal Option Sales Tax would remain untouched.
With the approval of the Atlanta City Council, the lifespan of the Westside TAD would be extended ten years to 2048, to help pay off the City’s commitment to the development.
The City does not pledge any portion of its General Funds toward the project. However, Atlanta City Council members at the Aug. 20 meeting questioned who would be responsible for services like fire and police. Council President Felicia Moore said she believed the general fund would eventually be impacted by the project and called for total transparency on the project.