Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens was downtown Thursday afternoon to celebrate the groundbreaking of the first phase of Centennial Yards, the $5 billion revitalization project expected to bring more economic vitality to the city. 

The 50-acre development will take the place of The Gulch, a plot of undeveloped land adjacent to the State Farm Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Centennial Yards will add approximately eight million square feet of residential, commercial, office and retail space to downtown Atlanta.

“This project is uniquely Atlanta,” Dickens said during his opening remarks. “Bringing the public-private partnerships and nonprofit sectors together to dream big, and to execute a plan in a thoughtful and deliberate manner.”

The mayor also said that the objectives of Centennial Yards align with his goals for the city as a whole. Centennial Yards Company plans to set aside roughly 20% of the development’s total residential units for affordable housing. Centennial Yards Company expects the project to bring hundreds of new jobs to the area over the next few years as the development is constructed. The company also promotes economic diversity through its plans to reserve 38% of Centennial Yards’ retail contracts for local women and minority business owners. 

Ambassador Andrew Young is joined by former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, Vice-Chairman of the Atlanta Hawks Grant Hill, Atlanta City Councilwoman Marci Collier Overstreet, and 61st Mayor of Atlanta Andre Dickens during the Centennial Yards groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, November 17, 2022. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

“This is just the beginning,” Dickens said about the project. “And I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

The groundbreaking takes place a year after Centennial Yards Company signed a development agreement with the City of Atlanta. Centennial Yards will incorporate three neighborhoods in downtown Atlanta: Castleberry Hill, Fairlie-Poplar and Sweet Auburn. 
Grant Hill, vice chairman of the Atlanta Hawks and a major investor in the development, said the development will create more space for residents and visitors to live, work and play in downtown Atlanta.

“As the mayor said, he likes to dream big,” Hill said. “We enjoy this opportunity to dream big together, and we ask all of you to join us in this excitement.”

The first phase of development consists of constructing two residential towers: a boutique hotel offering 292 rooms, and an apartment complex containing 304 individual units, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms. Both structures will reach 18 stories and will offer a combined 21,000 square feet of retail space. Centennial Yards Company intends to complete these two structures before the World Cup comes to Atlanta in 2026. 

The 57th Mayor of Atlanta, Bill Campbell, acknowledges the 55th Mayor of Atlanta, Ambassador Andrew Young, during the Centennial Yards groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, November 17, 2022. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

“This is a true phoenix moment for Centennial Yards to rise up and bring forth a transformation of downtown Atlanta while honoring the history that brought us here,” said Centennial Yards Company President Brian McGowan in a press release. “Plans for the new boutique hotel and 304 additional apartments across the street from Mercedes-Benz Stadium where the 2026 World Cup games will be held is incredibly exciting for us.”

Brigitte Broyard, Centennial Yards Company’s vice president of business and workforce opportunity who filled in for McGowan at the ceremony, introduced the towers and a best-in-class Sports and Entertainment District that the development will feature, which is projected to be one of the largest of its kind in the southeast.

“[The district] will provide visitors and locals alike a place to gather and experience the unequal diversity and culture and talent of Atlanta,” Broyard said.

According to Broyard, the company is already planning to develop two additional residential structures in the vicinity, which will add approximately 300 more units to Centennial Yards in the future.