Shaneel Lalani outside Underground Atlanta.

WRS, the South Carolina development company that purchased Underground Atlanta in 2017 with plans to transform it into a mixed-use development, has sold the property to a local real estate investment company.

A press released announced that Shaneel Lalani, CEO of Billionaires Funding Group (BFG) and Lucky Fortune, is acquiring Underground Atlanta “with plans to maximize the potential of the historic entertainment destination and connect the storied district with the investment and growth happening in Downtown Atlanta.”

Work stalled on the project before the coronavirus pandemic began, but WRS told INtown over the summer that it planned to resume modifications to existing space in the autumn. In 2019, WRS had announced that a hotel, LGBTQ-centric nightclub, and apartment complex would be built at Underground, but those projects never came to fruition.

Lalani said the multi-phased redevelopment completed around the four blocks of the property – Pryor, Central, Wall and Alabama streets – would initially include multifamily residential, street-level retail and structured parking.

Future development will include “engaging street-level retail, restaurant and entertainment concepts.” Alabama Street will be transformed into “an activated, walkable streetscape.” Lalani said security would be a top priority.

Lalani plans to extend the nightlife and energy created by the the popular Masquerade music venue in Kenny’s Alley by creating outdoor patios and places for bands to perform.

“We are passionate about Downtown Atlanta and its future as a lively city center with walkable streets and exceptional entertainment,” Lalani said. “We look forward to immersing ourselves in the community and working with the brightest minds in the business to bring the vision for Underground Atlanta to life.”

Lalani said he would assemble a team of top real estate experts to collaborate on the project, including civil engineers, urban planners, architects and JV partners. He is also commissioning a feasibility study for the district.

Lalani said he was open to exploring partnerships with the right investors, but intends to retain an ownership stake in each parcel to ensure consistency throughout the district.

According to the press release, Lalani has worked in retail his whole life, starting out as a store clerk, and he bought his first real estate property in 2012. He has since grown BFG’s real estate portfolio to more than one million square feet of commercial, retail and office space, with the vast majority of properties located in Georgia. The core business strategy for BFG is to buy underperforming assets and add value through renovations and leasing strategies. Lalani is also the CEO of Lucky Fortune, a coin operated amusement machine (COAM) company, which is licensed by the Georgia Lottery Corporation.

 

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.