In another sign that optimism for downtown’s revitalization abounds, the city’s latest food hall is under construction at beleaguered landmark Underground Atlanta, project officials announced today.

Following its sale last year, Underground is positioning itself for a mixed-use transformation that will include a 28,000-square-foot food market curated by Robert Montwaid as its anchor—alongside a second live music venue and a beauty mogul’s boutique.

Montwaid, best known for creating New York’s Gansevoort Market, is expected to compile a lineup of about 21 stalls for Underground, mixing local and international vendors. Montwaid is also curating Chattahoochee Food Works in Atlanta, with Minneapolis’ Dayton’s Market in his portfolio, too.

Demolition for the Underground food hall has begun. Renderings and more detailed plans won't be released until this summer.

The food component is being designed with a nod to the site’s industrial aesthetic at the heart of the property. Expect indoor and outdoor dining areas that spill into Kenny’s Alley, where the adjacent Masquerade music venue is scheduled to start hosting live shows again this summer, per project reps.  

Montwaid said his goal with the Underground food hall will be to highlight unique flavors found throughout the metro and “bring together a community of chefs to create a one-of-a-kind experience,” according to a prepared statement.

“Atlanta has a thriving culinary scene with some of the country’s most notable restaurants and restaurateurs located here,” Montwaid noted. “There is an opportunity to bring that captivating and palate-pleasing experience to downtown.”

Meanwhile, the delayed LGBTQ+-friendly concept Future Showbar and Restaurant plans to open June 4 in a 14,000-square-foot, two-story space. It’s described as a cabaret and dance bar with “a diverse food menu, weekly drag cabaret shows, and dance parties on the large dancefloor,” per Underground reps.

Original plans for opening Future were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning next month, it'll be open for lunch and dinner in a building at the southwest corner of Alabama and Pryor streets. Expect weekly programming and drag shows.  

The third tenant confirmed today is YELLE Beauty, the first brick-and-mortar location of a plant-based skincare concept by media mogul and entrepreneur Yandy-Smith Harris.

YELLE is expected to open this summer in a 1,629-square-foot space on Upper Alabama Street.

The announcements mark the first leasing activity since Shaneel Lalani, CEO of relatively unknown Billionaires Funding Group, or BFG, bought ailing Underground Atlanta from South Carolina-based shopping center developer WRS in November, following a protracted redevelopment process that had stalled.

WRS had raised hopes for Underground when it bought the property from the city for $34.6 million four years ago. The AJC recently reported that Lalani paid WRS less than that—$31.6 million—last year. (A positive sign came the first day BFG began marketing its lease options at Underground, as Lalani recently told Atlanta magazine: More than 50 inquiries about leasing possibilities came within hours.)

Underground’s marketing team called today’s leasing announcements the beginning of the property’s metamorphosis into a lively destination—at long last.

“These tenants represent the diverse mix of experiences we will bring to one of Atlanta’s most iconic properties,” said Lalani, in a statement. “We are committed to creating a place that is exciting and joyful for our city. We are just getting started.”

Recent downtown news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)