A Remarkable Rebirth
It’s been more than a year since we kicked off construction to transform Turner Field into our new football stadium. And while the difference within the gates is dramatic, beyond it, more revitalization is in the works.
Alongside our development partner, Carter, we are now engaged in a multiphase movement to revitalize the area around the stadium.
We just built a new digital billboard adjacent to the stadium alongside the Downtown Connector where more than a million eyes see it every day.
Construction on a 676-bed student housing complex is underway just north of the stadium. The privately owned building is the first of several planned student and family residences in the area, and it’s breaking up the vast asphalt parking lots once used by Braves fans.
These are just two of the more visible projects that promise to transform Georgia State Stadium’s surrounding area. The land includes sections of Summerhill, a neighborhood beginning the next stage of its next evolution.
Work is underway to convert vacant, historic structures along Georgia Avenue into a thriving retail and restaurant corridor. Once reenergized by eateries, shops and community staples, that strip — a stadium cross street and a main drag in the area — will be an anchor for a larger vision: a mixed-use redevelopment of Summerhill that serves residents and visitors alike.
Many of these businesses should open later this year and by spring 2019, including a barbecue joint, an “own-premise” brewery (one that crafts and serves its suds on-site) and an ice cream shop, among others.
A sister site for East Atlanta Village java haunt Hodgepodge Coffeehouse is also slated to start service in the near future. Opening a new shop at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard was a no-brainer for owner Krystle Rodriguez (B.A. ’06), who says the location made her feel an instant connection with the university.
The later phases of Summerhill’s makeover plan will bring additional housing and retail hubs, business offices and more.
The latest addition to our growing footprint, our new 8,000-seat Convocation Center will host commencements, concerts, conferences and other large events. The Convocation Center will also become the home court for Panthers’ basketball, replacing the Sports Arena with a modern facility worthy of our winning program.
Gov. Nathan Deal signed off on a $5 million bond to fund the building’s design, and it’s expected to be complete by 2022.
Amid the dust and construction in the area, the positive impact of these projects is already palpable.
According to the Atlanta Police Department, Summerhill’s crime rates have declined, and the implications are significant. A reputation for safety will be a critical part of drawing crowds to the new businesses in Summerhill and to Georgia State events, such as football games and concerts.
At the same time, as residents of each of the stadium-adjacent boroughs become more familiar with the university, our employment and enrollment rates in those communities are on the rise.
After winning the AutoNation Cure Bowl at the end of the 2017–18 season, we’re gearing up for our second football season at Georgia State Stadium and are optimistic about another victorious year. That optimism fills the air beyond the stadium gates, too, because our neighbors are racking up wins right next to us.
Mark P. Becker