One of the largest development proposals in suburban Atlanta history officially has a new leader for its stadium component.
The Gathering at South Forsyth, envisioned as a sprawling mixed-use entertainment mecca for all of North Georgia, has installed Frank Ferrara as senior project executive to lead development and operations for a planned cutting-edge, versatile arena that would anchor the district.
Project officials pointed to Ferrara’s background in sports operations, financial management, and strategic planning as reasons for his hiring in a Monday announcement. He’s expected to start in his new role Friday, having relocated to Atlanta with his wife and two children.
Previously, Ferrara was chief financial officer and senior associate athletic director for Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Athletics. There, he oversaw all budgetary, fiscal, and business operations for ASU’s Power 5 athletic department, which counts 26 sports and more than 250 employees. He also served as the athletic department’s liaison to manage ASU’s 330-acre, mixed-use Novus Innovation Corridor, which The Gathering leaders describe as “one of the nation’s most progressive, urban, mixed-use developments.”
Metro Atlanta hockey fans might take heart in knowing Ferrara also spearheaded ASU’s ice hockey program, leading the school’s efforts to select the development team for the 5,000-seat, on-campus Mullet Arena and the Mountain America Community Iceplex four years ago. (At 750,000 square feet, however, The Gathering’s planned arena would be nearly four times larger than the one in Arizona.)
“Additionally,” notes a press release, “Ferrara helped manage the successful integration of an NHL tenant into the arena programming, including scheduling and the construction of an adjacent $19 million facility complete with NHL team locker rooms and support facilities.”
Ferrara also worked at the National Football League for more than 20 years, serving as NFL finance director.
“My background and experience align perfectly with the plans for [The Gathering],” Ferrara said in a prepared statement. “I’m truly excited about being a part of [CEO Vernon Krause’s] team in its formative stages and helping [the arena] become an unparalleled experience for fans and stakeholders, as well as the athletes and teams that will compete [there].”
The grandiose, mixed-use vision made a metro-wide splash as plans came to light in the spring, but work appears to have moved behind-the-scenes since. This week’s announcement identifies the district as an 80-acre “world-class entertainment hub and… gateway,” whereas earlier plans pegged the eventual footprint at around 100 acres.
Expected to cost around $2 billion, The Gathering is being pitched as a world-class entertainment destination that would double as a gateway to Forsyth County for anyone headed north. Project heads are expected to attempt to lure an NHL hockey franchise back to Atlanta—the metro’s first since the Thrashers decamped to Canada in 2011. Exactly how it would all be funded isn’t yet known.
The project’s site—located along Ga. Highway 400, where Ronald Reagan Boulevard meets Union Hill Road—was originally rezoned for a regional mall development 15 years ago that didn’t take off.
The Gathering is the brainchild of car dealership mogul Krause, owner of Krause Auto Group and a longtime resident of the growing county. U.S. Census data show Forsyth’s current 260,000-resident population exploded by 132 percent between 2000 and 2019, making it Georgia’s fastest-growing county this century.
Beyond Krause and Ferrara, the development team includes civil engineers Kimley-Horn, economic impact researchers Stone Planning, real estate advisors JLL, SCI Architects for arena design, and the Nelson firm for land planning, among others.
Forsyth officials say upgrades to nearby roadways—including a new interchange on Ga. Highway 400 and a widened McGinnis Ferry Road—will be in place to help manage greater traffic volumes, should The Gathering come together as planned, as the Forsyth Herald has reported. But MARTA’s planned extension of services up Ga. Highway 400 would stop short of the area, in Fulton County.
Head up to the gallery for a renderings-based refresher course on how The Gathering at South Forsyth could look and function.
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