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Developers are planning to transform 10 acres of industrial land in South Downtown into a mixed-use community built on digital infrastructure and blockchain technology.

Forge Atlanta, an Urbantec Development Partners-led project, will combine research space for life sciences companies with multi-family housing, retail and entertainment venues.

The site is located at Ted Turner Drive and Whitehall Street and includes 3.8 million square feet of mixed-use space and 1.2 million square feet of residential space.

The project would be a hub in the city for life science research, an industry that has become a major economic catalyst during the pandemic. Around $70 billion of public and private capital was invested in life sciences-related companies in 2020, a sharp increase from $38 billion in 2018, according to research from real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Atlanta is a major player in medical research, and several attempts have been proposed to jump-start health innovation districts. Past proposals have targeted properties in Midtown, the city’s center of tech development, leaving Forge Atlanta as one of the first headed for the core of downtown.

The project sits at the nexus of growth within Atlanta’s tech sector and increasing development for South Downtown, where transformation along The Gulch and Newport RE's revitalization of 222 Mitchell St. are reshaping the core into a more dense and walkable urban community.

Urbantec plans to integrate applications of blockchain technology — another growing trend in Atlanta’s business ecosystem — across the development for companies and residents, though they have not yet determined which types. They've considered creating a token economy, where digital assets are used to exchange goods and services, and using smart contracts, which are agreements between parties written into code on a blockchain, as options.

The property is further south of major development in the core. Accessible by the Garnett MARTA station, it’s roughly 1.5-miles from the Atlanta University Center, one mile north of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and within a half-mile radius of Centennial Yards. Directly across the street is the Georgia Department of Driver Services.

“Because of us, [Centennial Yards and 222 Mitchell Street] are infill,” Urbantec COO Pietro Doran told The Atlanta Business Chronicle. “They’re not the frontiers. We are now integrated straight into the central business district.”

Urbantec, led by founder Jae Kim and Doran, bought the 10-acre property for around $26 million in early 2021. The idea for Forge Atlanta evolved from Kim’s previous $400 million Augury Square “smart city” venture that never came to fruition.

Urbantec settled on the property for a number of factors, though chiefly for the lower land value costs in downtown and its proximity to emerging entrepreneurial activity at the AUC colleges.

The underdevelopment of the property was also a plus. Building away from higher density areas thwarts displacing existing residents, which was ideal, Doran said. One apartment complex currently sits on the property, and Urbantec is in conversations with the property manager to navigate the relocation process of tenants.

Kim aims for Forge Atlanta to become a catalyst for the area, where operating alongside Centennial Yards and 222 Mitchell Street can create an “in-your-face, technologically unapologetic 21st century” downtown ecosystem.

“We saw a chance to become a transitional area,” Doran said.

Urbantec has yet to set a timeline for completion, but Kim envisions breaking ground next fall. Nelson Wakefield Beasley & Associates will serve as architects. Kimley Horn will take up engineering and Morris and Manning & Martin LLP will act as legal counsel.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Savannah Sicurella

Quelle/Source: The Business Journals, 25.10.2021

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