Mayor Kasim Reed Announces Sale of Underground Atlanta

On December 17th, Mayor Kasim Reed announced the sale of Underground Atlanta to WRS, Inc. for $25.8 million. WRS, Inc., a real estate investment company based in South Carolina, has developed over 30 retail anchored shopping centers with over seven million square feet of retail space since 2001. Tentative plans for redevelopment include mixed-use retail and housing. The sale will result in $8 million annual cost savings for the City.

“The sale of Underground Atlanta is another milestone in the revitalization of our downtown corridor,” said Mayor Reed. “WRS Inc. brings a high level of expertise and strong track record of successful developments to an area of the City in need of a fresh approach. Based on the city’s track record with Ponce City Market, the Lakewood Fairgrounds (now EUE Screen Gems) and Buckhead Atlanta, I am confident that we will succeed in transforming Underground Atlanta into a vibrant component of our city’s commercial business district.”

The Downtown Development Authority (DDA) was created in 1982 by state law to revitalize and redevelop Atlanta’s central business district. The City and DDA have jointly owned Underground Atlanta since August 1986. In March 2014, the City purchased a long-term sublease to make the property available for revitalization and redevelopment.  

WRS, Inc. has a significant track record in retail development. WRS, Inc. has developed over thirty anchored shopping centers covering seven million square feet of retail space and has also aided in the development of more than 100 additional retail projects encompassing more than ten million square feet of retail space. Notable development projects in the WRS, Inc. portfolio include the Horizon District in South Carolina, an urban research district that will contain over 2.5 million square feet of mixed-used space with street-level retail, restaurant and office space, and workforce housing. The company has also developed a number of retail anchored projects for nationally known corporations including Belk, Wal-Mart, Staples, Kohl’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“WRS, Inc. is committed to leveraging Underground Atlanta as a catalyst for long-term economic and social sustainability in downtown Atlanta,” said Scott Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of WRS, Inc. “Development plans for the site will create a community rather than a destination, making Underground Atlanta a place where people can live and shop every day.”

WRS, Inc. was selected through the DDA’s competitive procurement process. The transaction details will be presented to the Atlanta City Council and the DDA board for approval next month.

Atlanta’s hospitality and tourism industry generates $11 billion annually. A revitalized Underground Atlanta will complement several new downtown attractions, including the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the College Football Hall of Fame and the new Falcons Stadium which will open in 2017. In January, the New York Times featured downtown Atlanta as one of the “52 Places to Go in 2014.”


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