Atlanta-based Fuqua Development will partner with the Braves on the retail portion of the project, Cumberland-based Pope & Land on the office component, and Atlanta-based Pollack Shores Real Estate Group on the residential.
The development, which includes up to 630,000 square feet of Class A office space, 500,000 square feet of upscale retail, 450 hotel rooms and 500 residences, is expected to open at the same time the 41,000-seat ballpark does in 2017.
The Braves will retain a majority ownership stake in the development and will continue to guide the development process in conjunction with its partners, said Mike Plant, Braves executive vice president of business operations.
The $672 million ballpark is being designed by Kansas City, Mo.-based Populous.
The Braves plan to name development project architects and an entertainment partner in the coming weeks. The franchise has already determined the general feel of the development with the help of its land planner, The Jerde Partnership.
The meeting point of ballpark and development
The space where the ballpark and development meet, called the plaza, will be a key part of the overall project, said Derek Schiller, Braves executive vice president of sales and marketing.
“We’ve spent a lot of time on that plaza to ensure that the way it can be programmed for game days and non-game days is productive and good for the development as well as the ballpark. So on game days, you might see us do pre-game entertainment from the plaza area, you might see us do concerts and things like that on non-game days, you might even have music concerts, festivals, the end of the 10K races, all sorts of different activities throughout the course of the day,” Schiller said.
“Some for the benefit of the business community that work around there and some for the benefit of the surrounding residences that live nearby there, and we believe that the development coupled with the ballpark and all the programming will become a destination for all of metro Atlanta and even the Southeast, even when we don’t necessarily have game days there because of the various components of the mixed-use development.”
Plant said an example of what they have in mind is L.A. Live, an entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles adjacent to the Staples Center.
Plant said most developers struggle with obtaining the required permits and necessary funding.
With the Cobb Board of Commissioners having granted the zoning request and approved the contract agreements, which commit $300 million in county funds to build the stadium and another $35 million for capital maintenance over the 30-year life of the deal, approval and funding hurdles have been cleared.
“And then, once you get into the marketplace, it’s how is the market going to respond to your place,” Plant said. “And for us, the market’s been incredibly interested and responsive. As Jeff Fuqua has said, this is what he does; he hasn’t seen this type of interest in a project in a long time. Part of that is the crown jewel, the Atlanta Braves’ brand new ballpark that’s going to drive approximately three million people a year to that destination and most developers, they don’t have the luxury of starting out of the gates with that.”
Tenants lining up
Plant said his organization has a stable of retail and restaurant partners that have expressed interest in moving to the development.
He expects the gas lines that run through the property to be moved by October and construction to begin in November.
“But you’ve got to remember the primary focus on that is going to be on the ballpark, because the development can start months after the ballpark does,” he said.
How many of the 500 residential units in the development will be apartments, townhomes or condos has yet to be decided.
“The townhouse/condo market was incredibly depressed for a long period of time here in the last five or six years, but that’s starting to come back, and so we envision that’s going to be a combination,” Plant said.
Schiller said the kind of person who will live in one of the residential units is “somebody who is looking for a very vibrant lifestyle directly outside of their apartment, so there’s going to be a lot of activity around there, a lot of concentration of restaurants and shops and unique entertainment, both baseball games as well as music concerts, and it’s somebody who wants to live in that kind of lifestyle.”
Schiller anticipates the next big event will be the ballpark groundbreaking within 90 to 120 days.
Over the coming months, additional architectural drawings for the ballpark and development will be released to give residents a better sense of what it will look like, he said.
As for naming rights, that’s still a work in progress.
“I would just say we’re going to the marketplace and starting to understand what’s the best way in which to bring any title sponsor to the name of the ballpark,” he said.