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Plans to move historic Amtrak site

ATLANTA (Atlanta Biz Chronicle) -- Atlanta developer Carter is among the real estate companies vying for a piece of a 12.5-acre property near Atlantic Station that could involve new terminals for Amtrak and Greyhound.

Carter has submitted proposals to the State Road and Tollway Authority to develop the transit-oriented project.

The Authority owns the site at 17th Street and Northside Drive by IKEA and the Norfolk Southern Corp. rail line and across from the Atlanta Water Works. Amtrak has chosen the property to contain a facility that would replace its historic Peachtree Street station, according to marketing materials for the site involving the authority, the real estate company Lionstone Group LLC, and a local commercial real estate brokerage.

The latest wrinkle is the possibility of a new Greyhound Lines Inc. terminal on the site, according to people familiar with the plans.

Carter declined to discuss that possibility, but confirmed it has responded to the request for proposals to develop the 5.8-acre parcel abutting Northside.

Greyhound built its downtown terminal for the Olympics, and it was meant to be a temporary site.

The state is also marketing the adjacent parcel Northside and 17th Street that could eventually contain new retail and apartments. Together, both parcels would form a more than 12-acre mixed-use, transit-oriented development between Midtown's office towers on Peachtree, Atlantic Station and the emerging retail districts along Northside and Howell Mill, known as the Westside. It would also join other nearby projects in the works, including Pollack Shores Real Estate Group's apartment development at 16th and Mecaslin.

"We plan commercial and retail uses, and we are working on an idea for the site that could have a transportation component," Carter President Scott Taylor said. "Amtrak is part of this plan. We're waiting to see if we're selected."

The state has hired the commercial real estate brokerage Major & Arroll LLC to market the Northside/17th site, said authority spokeswoman Malika Reed Wilkins.

Initially, the process yielded three proposals from developers, but she offered few details. "One proposal remains under review," she said. "Since we are currently in the middle of the procurement, we typically keep specific proposal information confidential during this time."

It's an important urban infill site, especially for the Northside corridor. Georgia Tech professor Mike Dobbins said the school has studied how to better connect the areas along Northside back to Atlanta's downtown core.

In an interview with Atlanta Business Chronicle earlier this year, Dobbins described the corridor as "ragtag," but Tech's civil engineering and urban planning students have tried to come up with ideas to transform it into a "grand boulevard." Unlike Atlanta's most famous corridor, Peachtree Street, Northside faces a lack of identity.

The proposed development along Northside could help change that. There's a possibility Cobb County could hook its transit services into the site, Dobbins said. How to connect this site and Northside Drive to Midtown and downtown has a lot to do with what happens next along 17th, 14th, 10th, and Marietta streets, and North Avenue, and what transportation options are provided, said Jon Tuley, a principal planner with the Atlanta Regional Commission.

"When you look at a map or aerial of Midtown and downtown Atlanta, we have the core covered with good transit, bike and [pedestrian facilities]," he said. "We need to start focusing on our east-west connections. Maybe this site and the desire to connect Northside Drive and Atlantic Station to Midtown could serve as a catalyst for that discussion."

The project is nowhere close to as large as downtown's Gulch, nor is it intended as an alternative to the 120-acre site near the Georgia Dome, CNN Center and Philips Arena. It would be anchored by a multimodal passenger terminal. The Gulch is estimated to add almost 6 million square feet of office, retail and residential space.

It was recently added to a national list of infrastructure projects to be expedited through federal environmental review and permitting.


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