The clock is ticking for Atlanta to put its best foot forward for a global audience. With the city's first FIFA World Cup match just 767 days away, it's time to push reality aside and dream big for a moment. We're the home of the world's busiest airport and the Olympics' 100th anniversary, after all. When pressed to produce, history shows we can. 

 But we've got more than a few important holes to fill. 

Below is a quick roundup of weighty ideas and development proposals that could make ATL shine brighter—if they somehow found a pulse again. 


Details: At 45 stories and 800,000 total square feet, this artful shard called “Fifty” sprouted from the ashes of an equally ambitious office proposal at 50 Allen Plaza that was nixed by the Great Recession. About 20,000 square feet of retail and amenities galore were also in the mix, as of 2021.

The tower concept's positioning, as it would face Midtown and the Connector.Images courtesy of Stream Realty Partners; designs, Duda Paine Architecture

Benefits: Downtown needs more people. Period. But especially people living in blocks like this that can seem barren. Plus, what a statement this could make to the world during a month of globally televised sporting matches—even if it's half-built and rising up. Let’s keep the scope but scrap the offices for new residences in the sky (with that onsite climbing wall like no other).  

Probability of happening (scale of 1 to 10): 2

The tower's stance, as seen from the north.


Details: Just before Halloween in 2022, plans came to light for a 20-story, mixed-use building that would take shape on the northern fringes of Bankhead, replacing parking lots and low-rise industrial buildings alongside the Westside BeltLine Connector trail.

The scope called for 310 rentals above more than 7,500 square feet of retail on the ground floor. Project heads said 20 percent of the apartments, or roughly 60 units, would be set aside as affordable housing at 60 percent of the area median income.

The eastern facade of the proposed apartment building, with the Westside BeltLine Connector trail depicted near its base. Flippo Civil Design/Grind Capital Group; via BeltLine DRC

Benefits: Life! Vibrancy! More housing options along a flat, exercise-friendly BeltLine pathway that provides an off-street shortcut into the heart of downtown but could use more patronage. Plus, imagine the skyline views from east-facing units.

Probability of happening: 6


Details: In the depths of the pandemic, tech titan Microsoft swooped in, made a $150-million offer the former Quarry Yards development crew couldn’t refuse, floated lofty promises about lifting up “one of Atlanta’s most economically distressed neighborhoods” with affordable housing and jobs, and singlehandedly changed the real estate temperature across an entire section of Atlanta. And then… crickets. Microsoft, like other tech Goliaths, slammed the brakes on its aggressive expansion mode.

Atlanta hopes to show off this Westside Park-adjacent, MARTA-connected area to World Cup guests in 25 months. To echo Mayor Andre Dickens' recent sentiment, it’s time for Microsoft to step up and start building up these empty, important 90 acres—or to sell to someone who will.  

A recent aerial of Microsoft's acreage west of Midtown. Courtesy of Microsoft

Benefits: Many. Possibly. One-quarter of the tech campus, per Microsoft’s plans, was going to be devoted to affordable housing, retail, and a grocery store. Ostensibly a wellspring of high-paying jobs would accompany that. Few are the ITP places where one can find affordable rents—and then walk to MARTA or greenspace jewels like Proctor Creek and Westside Park. But for now, it’s all tumbleweeds.

Probability of happening: 7

4. NO. 2 OPUS PLACE (the grandeur, not the boondoggle)

Details: Any Atlantan with a passing interest in real estate is familiar with the saga of this gleaming, 74-story condo tower proposal (later shortened) that broke ground with literal dynamite, attracted eager buyers, dragged on for several years, and then finally, predictably collapsed into foreclosure last fall. An affiliate of heavyweight developer Trammell Crow Company is reportedly under contract to purchase and develop the Midtown site now.

An early rendering shows No2 Opus Place when it was designed to be taller—a 730-foot glass statement piece to rival the condo towers of Manhattan and Tokyo. Plans were later scaled back. Perkins+Will/No2 Opus Place

Benefits: Let’s think big here—on the scale of the initial No. 2 Opus Place dream. (Hell, revive plans in the initial renderings if need be.) This high-profile site is as walkable and transit-friendly as they come in Atlanta. It’s steeped in world-class arts. This is not the place for another ho-hum, uninspired glass cereal box or two.

Probability of happening: 7.5


Details: This one may have never advanced beyond urbanist dreams/hopelessly hypothetical stages, but wouldn’t it be nice?  

Blah ... Google Maps

Benefits: Concealing a vast, annoying sea of heat-absorbing asphalt at one of the main intersections in not just Buckhead but all of Atlanta could help atone for the city’s ill-planned urban sins of the past. It could also function as a sibling park to the planned HUB404 greenspace, linked to each other by (painted) bike lanes.

Just imagine seeing Atlantans picnicking and tossing Frisbees here instead of so many glittery European autos. Forthcoming, boardwalk-style sidewalk upgrades around the parking lots are a start, but the gapping gash in Buckhead’s urban fabric will remain.

Probability of happening: -2


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