The City of Atlanta is officially seeking “visionaries” to fill a prominent retail space next to Zoo Atlanta that opened with striking designs three years ago and has sat vacant ever since.

For the second time since the city took ownership of the Grant Park Gateway, the Department of Parks and Recreation issued a Request for Proposals on Monday to solicit ideas for the eye-catching, modern jewel box of a retail space overlooking the LEED-certified parking garage’s green roof.

Drone footage distributed by the city this week on social media stresses the Gateway’s proximity to downtown, Grant Park greenspaces, and yes, elephants.

For the first time, the latest RFP specifies how large the shell space is: 7,056 square feet. And it reiterates what officials have told Urbanize Atlanta in the past—that a single operator is being sought to fill the entire building.

Screenshot from drone footage distributed this week by the City of Atlanta to promote the Grant Park Greenway space. City of Atlanta

A site visit for prospective tenants is scheduled for Feb. 27, and the deadline to submit proposals this time around is April 4.

City officials aren’t too specific in what they’re looking for. The RFP calls for an enterprise that will use the Gateway space “to create something” that will “increase the property value of the neighborhood, improve the area’s livability, serve as a convenience to neighborhood residents and visitors, and continue Atlanta's forward progress.” 

The city managed to take ownership of the Gateway space from the Atlanta and Fulton County Recreation Authority early last year—a key first step in getting it leased and occupied, officials said at the time.

But a similar RFP issued last February didn’t attract a single bid from prospective tenants.

The city’s Department of Procurement, which is charged with helping lead the tenant search, concluded that rising construction costs spurred by inflation, combined with increased interest rates, contributed to the lack of bids.

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

Atlanta City Council member Jason Winston, whose District 1 covers Grant Park, told Urbanize Atlanta last fall the city plans to partner with Invest Atlanta to offer financial assistance to the right restaurant operator during this next solicitation process. More open communication and tours of the property are also expected to help with leasing it, Winston said.

Since officially opening in January 2021, the 2.5-acre greenspace has become a magnet for people flying kites, skateboarders, roller skaters, bicyclists, picnickers, and kids who spy elephants, giraffes, and zebras at the zoo next door. But the restaurant space designed by Smith Dalia Architects and Winter Johnson Group, situated at the elevated park’s south end, has never been used. 

The $48-million Gateway replaced a parking lot with the park-topped garage. In 2022, it earned the Atlanta Urban Design Commission’s Award of Excellence for sustainable design.

Screenshot from drone footage distributed this week by the City of Atlanta to promote the Grant Park Greenway space. City of Atlanta


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