A year after the COVID-19 pandemic brought business travel and tourism industries to their knees, a flurry of construction around downtown Atlanta’s convention megaplex could soon start to signal optimism for the future.

Plans the Georgia World Congress Center Authority has been discussing for the past few years—both at street level and high above—have begun to visibly materialize this week with construction of a Pedestrian Mall in place of two one-way traffic lanes.

But the blockbuster news, as GWCCA officials tell Urbanize Atlanta, is that one of Atlanta’s largest hotels—and the world’s first ground-up Signia by Hilton concept—is set to break ground in April.

The Gensler-designed hotel project was on track to launch in late spring last year, just after Atlanta’s planned NCAA Final Four basketball crowds had cleared out of downtown.

But then 2020 devolved into post-mid-March 2020.  

Latest rendering for the world's first newly constructed Signia by Hilton concept. Gensler; courtesy of Georgia World Congress Center

Per GWCCA officials, the Signia project is scheduled to open in December 2023 with roughly 1,000 rooms.

That would rank it between the fifth largest hotel in Atlanta (Omni Atlanta Hotel: 1,038 rooms) and the current sixth (Sheraton Atlanta Hotel: 749 rooms).

GWCCA spokesperson Holly Richmond said further details on the hotel will be released soon. Earlier plans had called for about 30 stories, which would rank the building among the tallest all-hotel structures in Atlanta.

Overview of the Signia property and Home Depot Backyard tailgate zone, in the former Georgia Dome's footprint. Gensler; courtesy of Georgia World Congress Center

The Signia would be the most visible part of the GWCCA’s 2020 Vision master plan, a sweeping campus redo. Rising over the Home Depot Backyard and Northside Drive, it's planned to link with the GWCC by way of Building C at the Georgia Ballroom level.

Meanwhile, between existing convention halls and State Farm Arena, Manhattan Construction Company broke ground in recent days on a $15-million Pedestrian Mall project that will consume traffic lanes in order to boost the experience of people on foot in the area.

Expanded pedestrian space, extending toward State Farm Arena. Courtesy of Georgia World Congress Center; designs, HGOR and Nelson

The goal is to create a much wider, safer passageway for pedestrians from Centennial Olympic Park, through the GWCC campus, to the foot of the Signia hotel and Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Improvements will also be made to the East Plaza behind the Omni Hotel.

The Pedestrian Mall is expected to be completed across two phases and fully open by Christmastime.

Expanded seating at the Pedestrian Mall. Courtesy of Georgia World Congress Center; designs, HGOR and Nelson

Just south of the pedestrian expansion, an $18-million transportation depot is also scheduled to begin construction next month as a hub for dedicated bus and ride-share options serving the area.

That aspect is scheduled to finish in April next year, and officials believe it will help relieve congestion in the Marietta Street corridor and improve general traffic conditions in the district.

The Transportation Depot concept. Courtesy of Georgia World Congress Center; designs, HGOR and Nelson

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