The founders behind one of America’s largest tech hubs have plans to step in and keep years of redevelopment hopes for South Downtown’s disinvested blocks alive, with widespread changes potentially coming before Atlanta’s World Cup matches in 2026.
That’s according to a bombshell announcement today by David Cummings and Jon Birdsong, heads of Atlanta Ventures, the Buckhead-based company behind Atlanta Tech Village, which houses more than 300 business startups.
German real estate firm Newport RE announced in July it was letting go of a huge South Downtown portfolio—more than 50 buildings and 6 acres of parking lots across some 10 blocks—it had spent the better part of a decade accumulating, indefinitely pausing renovations to Hotel Row and another commercial building across the street. Newport officials pointed to COVID-related delays, prolonged war in Europe, and interest rate spikes as reasons their investors had grown impatient and cut bait. A sale to Atlanta-based developers Braden Fellman Group didn’t materialize as some properties entered foreclosure proceedings.
Since the foreclosure news, Cummings and Birdsong wrote in today’s announcement they’ve been “working tirelessly to ensure South Downtown maintains and accelerates the momentum gained in the past decade” by putting 53 parcels and 6 acres of parking lots under their ownership.
They’ve also brought aboard April Stammel, a former Newport executive, to help bring a new vision to fruition.
“As the dust settles amid any financial transaction, particularly one of this magnitude, we’re reluctant to announce grandiose plans or visions yet,” reads the Atlanta Ventures announcement. “Our first priority is listening and ensuring the mechanisms are in place to keep South Downtown in a state of progress,” which will include a mix of new construction and historic preservation, with “a greater emphasis on creative doers and entrepreneurs from every corner of our city.”
Cummings, Birdsong, and company plan to spend the next year listening to input and designing a far-reaching plan that keeps time constraints in mind “as the world awaits to enter our doorstep for the World Cup in the summer of 2026,” per the announcement.
They point to Hotel Row’s Thai food destination, Tyde Tate Kitchen, as evidence that Newport’s vision has some momentum left in place. The rest of the neighborhood’s next chapter, they assert, will be written by local Atlantans.
“An opportunity to create a safe, walkable, and livable neighborhood in the once forgotten ‘heart of the city’ is right in front of us,” Cummings and Birdsong write. “Every great city in the world has a vibrant downtown, it’s Atlanta’s turn.”
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