Downtown Atlanta traffic is almost always hectic. Add in the first day of classes at Georgia State, heavy rain and broken traffic lights at the corner of the Petit Science Center, where traffic is often already busy enough, and the result is a commuter’s nightmare.
But these students had another surprise in store: Half of Blue Lot, one of the main parking lots for commuting students, was closed. The Green Lot has now become the primary parking lot in the area, according to an announcement made by the Student Government Association.
Roughly 520 spaces were closed due to complications with Georgia State’s former agreements with Carter construction.
The Blue Lot was included in a 99-year ground lease with Georgia State from Carter, according to Jack Murphy, senior director of the development team at Carter.
In 2017, when the university and Carter finalized the purchase of Turner Field, the allotted land was put aside for three years to be used for student parking. The lease, however, eventually came to an end on Jan. 5 and is no longer controlled or allowed for use by Georgia State.
The original contract signed by the company and Georgia State was supposed to last 99 years, but an extension of three years was allocated for the continuation of student parking in the Blue Lot. Despite the extended time, Georgia State did not renew its lease to allow its students to continue parking there.
And though the land has been reserved for the construction, the parking lot will remain closed for the time being — unless Georgia State renews its tenure with the construction company, according to Murphy.
In other words, no immediate plans for construction are scheduled by the team at Carter.
The Blue Lot has been heavily relied on by students who park in the spaces day in and day out. And students are beginning to notice the inconvenience.
“I am not exactly sure what is going on here. From as long as I have been parking here, the area open to students just keeps getting smaller and smaller,” Delaney Karneboge, a senior at Georgia State who has been parking in the Blue Lot, said.
But according to Associate Vice President for Public Relations and Marketing Andrea Jones, this isn’t the case.
“When we rented parking from the Braves, we had approximately 1700 spots,” Jones said. “The number of current spots in Blue and Green continues to well exceed that number and we do not reach daily capacity at the Green Lot.”
But when Georgia State lost the 520 spaces in Blue Lot, this was for good, as Jones said there wasn’t an option to renew the lease with Carter.
According to SGA Vice Chair of Student Services John Le, the parking facilities near Aspen Heights have quite a story.
“Since the stadium’s acquisition by Georgia State University (from Carter and Associates), the institution entered a contract that rented the parking spaces from them,” Le said. “The deal has expired for the now-closed portion of Blue Lot, making it inaccessible to the Georgia State community.”
The ending of this contract has now shifted the parking deck permits from the Blue Lot over to the Green Lot, along with a majority — but not all — of the disabled parking spaces remaining in the Blue Lot.
Neither SGA nor the university have received word of what new developments will occur around the newly reclaimed Blue Lot and whether or not it will be able to repossess the plot — if at all.
The SGA advised commuters to arrive on campus earlier due to longer wait times for the shuttles. The newly closed parking spaces are expected to cause a great deal of traffic near Fulton Street and SGA recommends using the Pollard Boulevard Southwest exit to turn left and enter the Green Lot.
The university had a brief response to the newly closed parking lot.
“Although the traffic patterns and pick up locations may have changed, the number of parking spots available to commuter students in the stadium lots has remained consistent,” Jones said. “There are no additional renewal options to exercise.”
According to the Summerhill Georgia State expansion project, the Carter construction company is in partnership with Oakwood Development and Healey Weatherholtz Properties to create an 83-acre mixed-use project with the university as the anchor.
The Carter website outlines that the team is converting the land into a mixed-use neighborhood including facilities such as corporate offices, multifamily and student apartments and retail buildings.
In an article published by The Signal, Mike Holmes, associate athletic director of communications at Georgia State, said in November that more than 2,000 parking spots could face removal with the construction of a new baseball stadium
The stadium would be in the place where the former Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was built — even before Turner Field. The Summerhill project is set to include the area around Georgia State Stadium, as well as a new baseball field with more than 1,500 seats.