Not a week goes by that Urbanize inboxes and social media channels aren’t hit with a request or two for updates on the state of developer Newport RE’s much-ballyhooed South Downtown revival.

It’s a turbulent world in real estate development right now, and Newport’s considerable holdings are not located in traditional hot zones for outside investment. But as projects continue to deliver in neighborhoods across Atlanta, timelines for groundbreakings and deliveries in South Downtown continue to fall by the wayside.

The first quarter of this year was supposed to be monumental for Newport, according to earlier interviews and announcements.

Hotel Row on Mitchell Street was expected to be a buzzing retail and restaurant hub by now. Meanwhile, across the street, the long-vacant 222 Mitchell building was scheduled to open in the first quarter of this year, with a lively food-and-beverage concept on the roof and Ohio-based arcade and game bar Pins Mechanical claiming the full bottom floor.

In response to observations from readers that work on 222 Mitchell appears to have stopped in recent months, we inquired about the status of that project this week. A Newport rep responded, “We don’t have a comment on this at this time.” 

Ditto for the state of Newport’s two-tower apartment proposal on Broad Street unveiled last September.

Plans for the east tower where Mitchell and Broad streets meet. Courtesy of Newport RE; designs, Studios

The developer expected to break ground in the first quarter of this year on two high-rises less than a block from each other—one standing 21 stories, the other 18, with a combined 650 apartments and spaces for more than a dozen retail and restaurant concepts.

Those relatively tall projects were meant to signal a new beginning for South Downtown but have yet to start.

There isn’t a warm-blooded Atlanta urbanist who isn’t pulling for a more vibrant, lively, and populated South Downtown, and while outside investment and economic activity certainly abound, a few recent developments could be perceived by pessimists as red flags.

The Forge Atlanta megaproject proposal, which some observers felt was never realistic, ended up in foreclosure.

More recently, the city’s economic development arm, Invest Atlanta, received no responses from developers to a request for proposals involving a 1-acre site at 184 Forsyth Street in downtown’s southern reaches.  

Invest Atlanta had asked in January for ideas from development firms capable of turning an underused parking lot and small plaza next to the MARTA Garnett station into a dense mix of both affordable and market-rate apartments, in an area where few residential options currently exist. But nobody came forward—a rarity for intown properties dangled by the agency in recent years. (Invest Atlanta says its goals for the property are unchanged and that a revised RFP will be issued in the future).

And just this week, on a smaller scale, Underground Atlanta confirmed it has cancelled buzzy plans for a new Atlanta Brewing Company location that would have taken a standalone building near the Peach Drop site. The brewery’s president and CEO Alton Shields later told Eater Atlanta that turbulence in the craft beer industry was one culprit in the decision to pull out, but that getting investors on board with their vision was also difficult, as potential financial partners “expected more activity at the development and more progress and announcements” of other restaurants and new businesses.

So chicken, meet the egg. Or vice versa.


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