What does the sale of Underground mean for Atlanta?

Last Thursday we hosted a discussion on what the sale of Underground Atlanta means for the city. In attendance were about 100 people who live, work, or were just plain interested in learning more about what’s planned. Representatives from WRS, the developer who is under contract to purchase the property from the City of Atlanta, were invited but unable to attend.

Prior to the meeting, Creative Loafing was able to post the documents provided to the Atlanta City Council including the proposed plans, the appraisal, and purchase and sale agreement.

City officials have not yet provided information on how the public can provide input on the proposed redevelopment. This event was focused on showing that people are interested in learning more about the proposed project and want to be engaged in revitalizing Underground and its surrounding South Downtown neighborhood.

Before the presentation began, guests were given the opportunity to weigh in on ideas such as whether the redeveloped Underground should be geared more towards locals or targeted for visitors, feature more locally-owned stores or have more national brands, and provide additional parking or promote walkability and transit usage. They were also able to leave comments on their memories of Underground and their visions for the future.

Kyle Kessler, president of the Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association, gave a brief presentation on the history of what we now call Underground Atlanta: from the city’s founding, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the need for viaducts and the fight against decentralization, the rediscovery of the “old town” under the viaducts and the iteration of Underground Atlanta, the construction of MARTA and the second coming of Underground Atlanta, and up to its current state.


After the presentation, people were able to dialogue about the process, the developer’s other projects, how the proposal aligns with previous plans, what considerations are being made for the site’s historic buildings, and how the public can get involved.

Whether you were able to attend are not, we are encouraging you to make your voice heard on shaping the vision for South Downtown.

Thursday was just the beginning of community conversations about Underground Atlanta and will share the questions, responses, and comments as we work to hear from more people. WRS has told us that they are open to community feedback and we want to make sure that feedback is inclusive so please help us get the word out about our survey and upcoming events.

This Wednesday we’re hosting a working session to follow-up on the asset mapping, participatory tools, and storytelling work done during last month’s CodeAcross civic hackathon. And on March 8th and March 21st, architect Jeff Morrison will be leading his Unseen Underground tour as part of the Atlanta Preservation Center’s annual Phoenix Flies.