For Atlanta newcomers who never knew the Midtown of 2010—let alone the dead-zone era of the 1990s—it’s not hyperbole to call it an entirely different place now. A fuller city shot up from parcels that, in many cases, were puzzlingly empty lots.
Despite daunting inflation and talk of a looming recession, that development momentum showed few signs of skipping a beat in 2022, according to stats and updates presented at Midtown Alliance’s Annual Meeting last week.
The 1.2 square miles that make up Midtown Improvement District remain one of the most active real estate hot zones in the Southeast, with six projects considered “major” delivered in 2022, as Mary Pat Matheson, Midtown Alliance board chair and Atlanta Botanical Garden CEO, told an audience of more than 800 at the Fox Theatre.
Matheson characterized Midtown’s 2022 as “another year of forward progress” in which the subdistrict “continue[d] to be on a tear.”
Some of the more impressive stats involved the beleaguered office industry.
After adding nearly 2 million square feet of offices in 2021, Midtown counts another 2.3 million square feet that delivered last year or is under construction now. If that sounds foolhardy, considered that Midtown tallied more office absorption last year (new office leases versus move-outs) than all other Atlanta office markets combined, as Matheson told attendees.
Elsewhere in 2022, Midtown’s core blocks packed on more than 6,300 new residential units, counting project debuts such as Mira at Midtown Union and Novel Midtown. More than 200,000 square feet of new retail space was also added.
It was big year for hotel debuts, too. Midtown added another 455 hotel rooms in 2022—about half of those at the Kimpton Shane Hotel overlooking West Peachtree Street.
Matheson said hotel occupancy is on the rise, with roughly 3,700 hotel rooms occupied around Midtown on any given night—an 8 percent dip from pre-pandemic numbers that Midtown leaders consider strong nonetheless.
Beyond large-scale new development, Midtown Alliance spearheaded the creation of four new public spaces in the past nine months across the district. Those include Commercial Row Commons, Spring Street parklets, the Arts District Plaza, and a new pocket park and dog park on 10th Street.
Nonetheless, Kevin Green, Midtown Alliance president and CEO, said more public spaces are needed, as only 1.2 acres of Midtown’s 770 acres is permanently protected open space right now.
Surely to the delight of Atlanta urbanists everywhere, Green also relayed that a “notice of authorization for construction” was issued two weeks ago for the Juniper Complete Street Project—an effort more than 12 years in the making.
Green also said the 15th Street Extension project will be going out for bid (for real this time) sometime in the next two months, following an earlier hiccup. That will create a new street on donated Georgia Department of Transportation right-of-way between West Peachtree and Williams streets.
Another update of note came from Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, who reported that Atlanta Police Department statistics show overall crime in Midtown had plunged by 28 percent in 2022 versus the year prior.
Dickens credited the dip in property and violent crime, in part, to the longstanding partnership between APD and Midtown Blue, an organization of off-duty officers and other safety personnel that provides 24/7 support to supplement police.
Dickens also pointed to Visa’s new offices (just opened), the Emory Winship Cancer Institute project (scheduled to deliver in May), and the third phase of Tech Square (expected to begin construction this summer) as evidence Midtown isn’t slowing down.
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