GSU and developers, rec authority strike $30 million deal over Turner Field
The ambitious plan to turn Turner Field into a massive mixed-use development took a big step forward today, though it will be a while yet before the property officially changes hands and shovels start digging into the ground.
Mayor Kasim Reed announced on Thursday a signed purchase and sale agreement on the site between the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority and the Georgia State University Foundation, Carter USA, and Oakwood Development, another step in a deal that was announced months ago. The parties plan to finally close the $30 million deal by December.
GSU wants to use the soon-to-be-vacant ballpark and 67 acres for buildings that will include student housing, classrooms, and stadiums for Panthers football and baseball stitched into a mixed-use development featuring shops, restaurants, and offices.
“The big vision … is wrapping around that residential, commercial, retail,” GSU President Mark Becker said at a small ceremony at the foot of the Hank Aaron statue outside Turner Field on Thursday morning. The school also needs to ink a formal agreement with the GSU Foundation, and the deal is subject to approval by the public university system's state overseers, the Georgia Board of Regents.
For the past year, neighborhoods and planners have worked together on a Livable Centers Initiative study aimed at improving connectivity and turning the area into a vibrant community. Three concepts for the site show parks and buildings crisscrossed by a grid of streets that connect to surrounding neighborhoods.
Neighbors in Summerhill, Peoplestown, Pittsburgh, Mechanicsville and Grant Park have long pressured the city to make sure they get something better than a bunch of parking lots out of the acreage, enjoy new amenities and job opportunities for residents, and don’t get priced out of their homes.
The announcement was a celebration day for Suzanne Mitchell, president of Organized Neighbors of Summerhill, who sat on the second row at Thursday’s announcement. She said neighborhood association presidents, GSU, and developers will start meetings next week about the project in general and about a community benefits agreement as well.
“We will get something in writing” for community benefits, she said.
Reed told the reporters, elected officials, neighborhood residents and other guests that the development will make the area one of the most attractive, vibrant, and livable places in the city. He also said a university will be a draw and inspiration to young people in nearby neighborhoods. Long-discussed plans for transit to the massive development could come to fruition if voters approve a tax hike to expand MARTA inside the city limits this November.
“Turner Field may no longer be a baseball stadium but it will still be a field of dreams,” he said.
Reed said construction will take place over the next five years.