Brighter, more activated days could be ahead in the new year for a striking Atlanta parks structure that’s sat strangely empty for two years, according to a city official.

Atlanta City Council member Jason Winston, whose District 1 covers Grant Park, says operators for the large, modern building at the southern end of the popular Grant Park Gateway greenspace will be sought in a matter of weeks.

Responding to a story published here Friday, Winston shed light on behind-the-scenes deals and progress the city is making toward activating the voluminous space, as designed by Smith Dalia Architects and Winter Johnson Group.   

According to Winston, the City of Atlanta officially took ownership of the building from the Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority a few months ago. Earlier this month, Winston had a “great meeting” with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and Procurement Commissioners regarding a pre-bid workshop for the Gateway building.

“The meeting was to discuss upcoming timelines,” Winston wrote via Twitter. “Our goal in taking ownership was to get this building occupied ASAP.”

The patio area has become a popular destination for roller skaters. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

The city will be seeking a single operator for the full restaurant space. Winston says a bid package will be advertised by the second week of January, in hopes that “a diverse group of restaurant operators will submit proposals.”

The bidding process will be open for 45 days, per Winston.  

City officials expect to select an operator within about three to four months of the 45-day advertisement window.

“Our hope is the selected operator will be able to build out the space and be open by the end of 2023,” wrote Winston. “However… once an operator is selected and a lease has been signed, we can’t dictate how long it takes the operator to open their restaurant.”

(As the creators of South Downtown's first brewery said during a recent tour, sourcing labor and materials for restaurant buildouts is still no walk in the park, causing more than a year's delay at the forthcoming Wild Leap Brewing Co. facility downtown.) 

The 2.5-acre park space in relation to the restaurant structure. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

The spacious interior of the Gateway building, as seen in early 2021, looks largely the same today. Josh Green/Urbanize Atlanta

The $48-million Gateway officially opened in January 2021, replacing a parking lot with a park-topped garage. City leaders had promised since the project’s conceptual stages in 2017 that a chef-driven restaurant component would complement the park space, but that process, under AFCRA ownership, was glacial.

The 2.5-acre greenspace has become a magnet for people flying kites, skateboarders, roller skaters, bicyclists, picnickers, and giddy kids who can spy elephants, giraffes, and zebras next door.

So, people of Atlanta, what type of food-and-beverage concept does all of the above need?

Grant Park news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)