Four years after redevelopment plans for downtown’s historic Atlanta Constitution Building emerged and made headlines, the development firm controlling the site says the deal could finally resume progress this year.

Surrounded by major investment plans at Five Points MARTA station next door, Underground Atlanta, and the billion-dollar Centennial Yards project, the 1940s Art Moderne building has languished vacant for decades.

Following a lengthy RFP process in 2017, a new era for the city-owned Five Points landmark appeared to be dawning, as Invest Atlanta agreed to sell the property to developer Pope & Land, with Place Properties on board to erect a new residential building next door.

Initially, plans called for completing construction in February this year.

The 143 Alabama Street property's proximity to Five Points MARTA station, Underground Atlanta, and the Gulch—all of which are in the process of revitalization or redevelopment. Google Maps

Mason Zimmerman, Pope & Land’s senior managing development partner, tells Urbanize Atlanta his company has controlled the site since fall 2017 but still has not closed on the property.

“We do expect to finally do so in 2021,” Zimmerman wrote via email. “Delays notwithstanding, our goal remains the same, which is to utilize and retrofit the existing building plus add housing to the site.”

Estimates from 2017 peg the project as costing roughly $24 million total. Invest Atlanta has approved $2 million in Westside TAD Tax Increment financing for the project, but a spokesperson for the agency says that has yet to be paid out.

The landmark building in March this year. Google Maps

The original structure was built in the 1940s for the Atlanta Constitution newspaper, a predecessor to today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but that operation moved out after just a few years. Georgia Power moved in around 1953 but was gone in the 1970s, leaving the property vacant ever since.

In more recent years, metal shields have been placed over windows to prevent homeless encampments. At one point, trees sprouted from the roof. 

As outlined by Invest Atlanta in 2017, Pope & Land’s development team would also include companies with experience in adaptive-reuse of historic structures around the city: Winter Johnson Group was picked as general contractor, coming off the renovation of downtown’s Flatiron Building; and Smith Dalia Architects would lead designs, with a portfolio that includes King Plow Arts Center, Puritan Mill, and Westside Provisions District, among others.  

Plans called for Place Properties to build 112 new residential units beside the historic building—via a modular construction technique—with 30 percent of them, or 34 units, being reserved for income-restricted households at 80 percent AMI.  

Meanwhile, the former newspaper headquarters would be revived as 67,000 square feet of offices with 142 parking spaces.

Plans also called for about 2,500 square feet of retail at the street, with a 3,500-square-foot restaurant on the roof.

Overview of site plans. Courtesy of Invest Atlanta

Redevelopment plans for 143 Alabama Street, with the addition of 112 residential units behind it and a rooftop restaurant above. Courtesy of Invest Atlanta; designs, Smith Dalia Architects

Recent downtown news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)