Atlanta’s economic development authority is hopeful an injection of grant funding can move downtown’s ambitious, highway-capping Stitch project closer to the starting line.
Aiming to capitalize on a “surge” of federal interest and support for the Stitch project, Invest Atlanta officials want to expand allowed uses for $10 million in approved city funds in hopes of securing more grant funding that would cover “preliminary engineering activities” for the infrastructure project.
Back in September, Invest Atlanta awarded the city and the Stitch project’s spearhead, Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, the $10 million grant, using funding from the Eastside Tax Allocation District.
The hope was that amount would be matched by a U.S. Department of Transportation grant program meant to reconnect communities across America.
Instead, the grant application garnered just $1.1 million from the feds, according to a recent project update.
Invest Atlanta officials say an additional $19 million is required to bring the Stitch to “shovel ready” status. Achieving that could make it eligible for other federal funding sources that can be used to support construction.
The city and ADID hope to leverage the $10 million approved in the Eastside TAD grant to “match federal funding supporting preliminary design and engineering to the greatest extent possible.” But they need flexibility in how the Eastside TAD funding can be used, and thus Invest Atlanta has revised its approval of the $10 million grant.
In simpler terms, about $18 million of the Stitch’s expected $713 million price tag has been secured, according to Invest Atlanta. However, project officials have said that cost is likely to change as engineering and design phases are modified and finalized in coming years. A breakdown:
Invest Atlanta summarizes the Stitch project’s outlook over the next decade as follow:
Early planning and feasibility: 2015-2022
Master planning, NEPA, and concept design: 2023-2025
Preliminary “shovel-ready” engineering: 2025-2026
Final design and construction: 2026-2032
Invest Atlanta’s statistical projections for what the 3/4th-mile highway-capping greenspace could generate are the most optimistic to date: roughly 12 million square feet of residential development and 3,400 affordable housing units, all situated on nearby properties “that are currently underutilized and blighted by the impacts of exposure to the interstate highway.” Some 25 acres are controlled today by landowners “desiring to redevelop with a focus on affordable-housing,” per the development authority’s recent update.
In a May promo video shared with government leaders from across the U.S. during National Infrastructure Week in Washington, D.C., Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens predicted the park would be surrounded with $3 billion in private developer investments. Dickens also described the 14-acre Stitch as “a once-in-a-generation project” that would link people with multiple transportation modes.
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