Three groups, including a development group that includes Georgia State University, have submitted bids to take over Turner Field once the Atlanta Braves move to suburban Cobb County in 2017.
Not all three bids are equal. The Georgia State University bid, in conjunction with real estate firms Carter and Oakwood Development, is widely seen as the leader. It’s already been touted by Mayor Kasim Reed (who will make a final decision on the matter), and it meets all the criteria set forth by Reed, incorporating affordable housing as part of the mix.
The other two bids, meanwhile, seem more more quixotic than realistic. Mercury Youth Organization proposes a billion-dollar makeover of Turner Field, complete with a retractable roof, a conversion of part of the facility to an arena and a 40-story tower. But with no listed financial backing, it’s hard to see Mercury Youth Organization gain any traction. A third bidder, Rita World Pearl Kingdom LLC, is an unknown quantity, with no address or Internet information.
So that leaves the Georgia State University development bid as basically the leader. One concern from others involved: why didn’t the project attract more attention from other developers? One issue that that keeping the facility standing in some form was a priority for Reed and other city officials, and there just aren’t that many creative reuses for a ballpark. (We have a unique situation here: remember, Turner Field was built as an Olympic stadium, and the Georgia State University plan calls for a reconfiguration to match the original oval.) Other developers were interested in gambling being part of the mix: Reed is against gambling, and there’s no guarantee the state will approve it down the line. And at least one developer walked away because any development will need to meet a city plan that’s still under development. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Reed said another interested firm decided against Turner Field because, under the request for proposals process, the prospective developer is asked to incorporate elements of a community “Livable Centers Initiative” study now underway.
Many stadium residents called for the sale of the ballpark to be delayed until after the completion of the community study next year, but city officials said the ballpark must be sold prior to the Braves’ departure in late 2016.
Fulton County Chairman John Eaves said regardless of the bidders, he was glad for what he called an open process. His hope, he said, is for the “concerns and wishes of community be factored in the overall decision making process.”
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