Georgia State University and its private sector partners have shared few new insights about their plans to remake Turner Field and its parking lots, citing the need to reach a formal deal with the local government agency that owns the ballpark.
But on Tuesday, Georgia State President Mark Becker discussed key parts about the plan that he thinks will help the partners succeed where past attempts to renew the area have failed: and it starts with density and activity.
Georgia State and development firms Carter and Oakwood Development were named the winning bidders for The Ted by the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority at the end of last year.
The broad strokes of the partners’ plans have been public since being first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in May 2014. The plans include converting the Ted into a football stadium for the Panthers, creating a baseball field incorporating the Hank Aaron home run wall and building a mix of school facilities, private student housing, market rate rental housing, single family homes and neighborhood retail.
Becker, in an address to the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta, was asked what secret ingredient will help get the project right.
“People will be living and working on that site day in and day out,” Becker said. “It will be much more active and much more engaged.”
The Braves play 81 regular season home games at Turner Field each year. For the rest of year, the parking lots that surround the ballpark are largely empty and devoid of activity.
Becker said he and Georgia State’s development partners are committed to working with the stadium neighborhoods and bringing amenities to the area that fit the neighborhoods’ needs, as well as those of students at the state’s largest university.
A community development study is currently underway that will generate a master plan for the area around the Ted. Service retail, grocery stores, restaurants and other amenities are sorely lacking in the area.
Many residents have also said job training and continuing education for adults, improved public safety, storm water retention and better connectivity between neighborhoods were vital needs. Neighborhoods including Peoplestown, Summerhill, Mechanicsville and Pittsburgh were cut off decades ago by Atlanta’s freeways.
Becker said he couldn’t say much more than what has already been discussed about the plan until a sales agreement is reached.
Georgia State was one of the relative few upper collegiate division schools in the country in 2015 to both make the men’s NCAA basketball tournament and reach a bowl game. The Turner Field site will provide facilities that will bring the university up to par with other major colleges, he said.
One of the goals of buying Turner Field, Becker said, “is to provide the total experience for our students.”
“It’s a long road and there’s much to do,” Becker said. But he called the work ahead “very exciting.”