Days could be numbered for another intown parking lot—and a particularly egregious one at that.
The City of Atlanta’s most-visited tourist attraction, the Georgia Aquarium, is eyeing another significant expansion that would bring the facility across the street and claim a fenced parking lot and ancillary structures the aquarium has owned and held for well over a decade.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports aquarium officials have entered an “exploratory phase” for expansion concepts that could create a new wing on Luckie Street—immediately west of the current facility—connected by a tunnel under the downtown street. An aquarium spokesperson told the newspaper science and conservation work would be a key focus of any expansion.
Property records show the Georgia Aquarium acquired the 1.6 acres in question at 344 Luckie Street for $5.4 million in 2007, two years after the tourist attraction opened its initial phase. (Wizened Atlanta development wonks may recall that a Hard Rock-branded hotel was once pitched for the site.)
Today, the parcel in question is largely devoted to surface parking lots—much of it gravel. The Upper Cervical Health Center runs a medical clinic in a low-rise building on a small portion of the site.
The property is located on the southwest corner of Luckie Street’s intersection with Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard. Protected bike lanes run alongside the parking lots on Luckie Street.
With a price tag of $108 million, the aquarium’s last major expansion transformed the main entry and opened the exhibit “SHARKS! Predators of the Deep” two years ago.
Indications that the aquarium is serious about growing again are strong.
Atlanta City Councilmember Jason Dozier has introduced an ordinance that would allow the aquarium to build a tunnel under Luckie Street, allowing for safer guest access to the new wing and back. Also, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation this year (House Bill 86) that will renew an expired sales tax exemption—lasting between July and the end of 2026—on construction materials for certain zoos and aquariums that undergo renovations and expansions, as the ABC reports.
Sounds like Centennial Yards might not be only downtown entity eyeing a growth spurt in time for Atlanta’s 2026 World Cup matches.
Follow us on social media:
• Downtown news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)