Despite the ravages of a global pandemic, the largest ground-up project in 15 years of development aiming to capitalize on Atlanta BeltLine proximity continues to make headway, with milestones and an opening planned in the near future.

Atlantans who’ve walked, jogged, biked, or scooted the Eastside Trail since last summer have likely seen the plywood construction barriers near Ponce City Market that quickly morphed into a Black Lives Matter memorial.

Behind those walls, New City Properties is transforming a 12-acre site where Georgia Power had operated offices and staged vehicles for nearly 50 years into modernist mini-city that could cost upwards of $1 billion and require a decade to finish. Acquired by New City for $34 million in 2017, it’s the largest workable parcel of BeltLine-adjacent land left.

New City president Jim Irwin named the venture simply “Fourth Ward Project” in an effort to enmesh it with the surrounding neighborhood, Old Fourth Ward, where porch-heavy bungalows comingle with mixed-use, former industrial properties and large-scale apartment hubs.

As Irwin recently told Urbanize Atlanta, COVID-19’s fallout has done nothing to change the original vision: 1 million square feet of offices in glassy towers bordering the BeltLine; 200,000 square feet of retail; a 75-key boutique hotel with its own unique brand; and about 1,100 residences. Fourth Ward Project attracted headlines and criticism in 2019 when $22.5 million in Invest Atlanta public funding appeared to be headed its way—a supposed economic development tool in a section of town already exploding with investment. New City backed away from that funding, though it remains a possibility in the future, Irwin says.  

Now, as the laborious task of preparing the site for vertical construction continues, Irwin provided a rundown—alongside new project renderings—of what BeltLine-goers should see in months and years to come.

Gateway replacement

Remember that serpentine Gateway Trail that swooped BeltLine patrons down to Historic Fourth Ward Park? It’s been swapped with a combination of stairs and a glass elevator that takes less land, allowing for larger building footprints.

Irwin expects this new access point to the park will open to the public in April.

The elevator’s design and functionality are meant to reflect those found along New York City’s High Line. For bicyclists, the stairway will include runnels—basically channels for bike tires—to aide in lugging two-wheelers between the Eastside Trail and park.

Mailchimp’s big move

The first component to go vertical will be two mid-rise office buildings neighboring the BeltLine, connected via a skybridge.

Digital marketing giant Mailchimp announced in September its plans to decamp from Ponce City Market, where it's the largest tenant, for a new 300,000-square-foot headquarters a couple of blocks south at New City’s project.

Plans call for Mailchimp to be operating at the new location by the end of 2022. Irwin says the company will occupy about two-thirds of the first office towers, including all sky-bridge floors.

A third, taller office tower on the southernmost site is planned for a future phase.

What else in 2021?

Irwin expects the residential component to break ground this year as part of Fourth Ward Project’s first phase.

That will include 359 apartments in a brick, stair-stepped building overlooking the park’s retention pond. Ten percent of those rentals will qualify as affordable housing for anyone earning 60 percent of the area’s median income, Irwin says.

Beside that building—depicted in renderings with an exterior pattern of triangles and diamonds—is the hotel component. It’s on track, per Irwin, to break ground in December.

Wander into the gallery above for the latest project renderings and site photos. 

Old Fourth Ward (Urbanize Atlanta)