In a scene that urbanists of Atlanta would surely like to see repeated ad infinitum, a suburban-style shopping center heavily reliant on surface parking has been demolished, clearing the way for a massive, mixed-use development capable of housing well over 1,000 people.

After breaking ground in the first quarter of this year, the Moreland & Custer project by partners Empire Communities and Trammell Crow Residential has razed Moreland Plaza, a boarded-up strip center that had debuted in the 1960s as car-centric growth patterns took hold across Atlanta.

As a recent site visit proved, most Moreland Plaza buildings have been fully brought down. In place of vast parking lots, sewer infrastructure is being prepped for installation. The site spans roughly 32 acres—or 10 acres larger than Centennial Olympic Park—directly south of East Atlanta Village, next to Gresham Park.

Moreland & Custer’s scope calls for essentially a new small town. Some 674 housing units, 14 freestanding buildings, a network of connected greenspaces, a corner building for retail, and a creek-side park are all planned. Empire officials told Urbanize Atlanta in January that vertical construction is scheduled to start in late 2023.

Demolition and site work underway in April 2023 at the corner of Moreland Avenue (bottom) and Custer Avenue.

Building permits indicate the community will be broken down into 260 townhomes and 414 multifamily units situated toward Moreland Avenue, for the most part, with surface parking serving each standalone building.

At the corner of Moreland and Custer avenues, the new retail building would consist of roughly 20,000 square feet of leasable space, per plans filed with the city.  

Cleanup, restoration, and greenspace implementation on Intrenchment Creek, which snakes along the property to the east, are also planned, developers have said.   

Proximity of the project to Intrenchment Creek, at right, where new greenspace and a waterway cleanup is planned, per project officials. Multifamily buildings are shown in orange. Courtesy of Empire Communities

The shopping center had been mostly vacant for years. Two years ago, national multifamily developer Alliance Residential Company planned a 500-home venture, Broadstone Moreland, at the site but eventually backed away.

As the drone tour in the above gallery illustrates, Moreland & Custer won’t be the only recent development bet on this section of Moreland Avenue.

Across the street, Royal Oak Development is trying to move the last unsold units at a boutique condo community called Moreland Walk, which was initially priced from the mid-$200,000s.

Just to the north, another recent mixed-use venture called Halidom on Moreland serves as the national headquarters of IST Management Services. Multifamily and retail components—including a food hall—are expected to follow soon at that project, also situated on the banks of Intrenchment Creek.

Swing up to the gallery for a look at where things stand at this sprawling corner site in SE ATL today—and where the project is headed.


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