Carter, Georgia State unsure of next steps for Turner Field proposal

Georgia State and Carter both have undefined steps as they move forward with their proposal for developing Turner Field and the surrounding 77 acres into a mix-use development that include a new football and baseball stadium for the University.

Scott Taylor, the president of Carter, told The Signal the Atlanta Braves’ provision in its current lease to stay at Turner Field for an additional five years that can be excersized by the end of December 2015 will keep the partners from knowing what exactly are their next steps in pushing their proposal forward.

Photo Courtesy: Carter Scott Taylor said the next steps for Carter and Georgia State's proposal of developing Turner Field are unclear because of the Atlanta Braves ability to extend its lease an additional five years.
Photo Courtesy: Carter
Scott Taylor said the next steps for Carter and Georgia State’s proposal of developing Turner Field are unclear because of the Atlanta Braves’ ability to extend its lease an additional five years.

“That without a doubt is a complicated factor,” Taylor said. “We will all have to be mindful of the existing lease and the control which the Atlanta Braves still have over that property.”

The next steps following a proposal typically would be to enter into negotiations with the owner of the land and agree to the terms and conditions set by the seller, which, in the case of Turner Field, is the Atlanta Fulton County Recreational Authority.

This step cannot begin until the Braves officially decide whether or not to exercise the provision, which they are unlikely to do as they are continuing with plans to build a new stadium in Cobb County.

“Who knows what steps will be taken next,” Taylor said. “We all have to follow whatever process the [recreational] authority puts forth, and, again, we’ll be very respectful of the process.”

The Recreational Authority has given no indication when they will chose from a reported three to four proposals from different developers who wish to develop the land.

Taylor said the proposal created by Carter, a commercial real estate development advisory company, and partner Georgia State University was the result of “high-level planning” that could stretch Georgia State’s imprint on downtown Atlanta while successfully revitalizing the neighborhoods around the current stadium.

Georgia State University President Dr. Mark Becker told The Signal last week he had several developers contact him with ideas for Turner Field’s land, but Carter’s was the most realistic.

“The first thing at the top of my mind was move athletics out of Panthersville to Downtown,” Becker said when he received the call back in January.

Taylor said Becker was clear about his interest in bringing some of Georgia State’s athletic programs closer to campus making it a priority.

An area of focus for Carter and the University as they move forward will be to discuss the proposal with residents of Turner Field’s surrounding neighborhoods such as Summerhill, Mechanicsville and Peoplestown.

Carter wishes to respect the history and traditions of the surrounding neighborhoods, which are some of the oldest neighborhoods in Atlanta. He said he wants to be collaborative and communicative as the firm goes forward with its proposal and tries to finalize a concept that all parities can agree on.

Taylor said the firm has already begin this process by having an initial meeting neighborhood leaders by sharing the concept of the proposal. He did not discuss future plans of continuing this process.

Becker said he and the University do not have a plan to meet with residents of the surrounding area, but will participate with Carter as appropriate.

Some residents of the area are weary of the possibility of another development of a stadium district that has failed to revitalize the area in past attempts, but Taylor believes this plan would provide opportunity for the neighborhoods that have never been successfully accomplished in past attempts to develop the area.

“It’s the combination of all of our pieces that make this a successful equation,” Taylor said, adding that Georgia State is the anchor of the equation that will allow stabilization and vitality to the area.

“It has never worked in that location, and we believe by having more single-family home ownership, combined with… multi-family housing will provide the missing ingredient that the area has never quite found that can allow the retail to be successful,” he said.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has been clear he wants to see Turner Field’s land to be developed into a middle-class development.

Carter’s plan encompasses ideas such as markets and market residencies, single and middle-income homes along with an extension of Georgia State’s campus that would include renovating Turner Field into a new baseball stadium for the Panthers and building a new 30,000-seat football stadium. The plans also include on and off-campus housing, classroom buildings, and green space.

“We have been cognizant to make sure what we would put forth would be in keeping with Mayor Reed’s vision,” Taylor said.

Taylor said Carter briefed the mayor on the proposal, but did not share any reaction from Reed other than to say the announcement produced public discussion in which he and the firm appreciate and will listen to as they move forward.

The plan will evolve as time progresses as Carter plans to listen to stakeholders and constituents for their opinions, according to Taylor.

Taylor said the “human element” such as recreational centers for the neighborhood and how the firm engages with Atlanta Public Schools will be components Carter seeks to involve and improve in its current plans.

Carter has no backup plan other than the proposal that was released last Wednesday. Taylor said Georgia State’s involvement in the development is incredibly important because of the University’s legacy that it has in Downtown, and Carter hopes to build off that legacy.

Carter is a development firm based in Atlanta which has been involved in several athletic-related construction projects around the country.

The firm has done renovations for Samford Stadium, the home of the Georgia Bulldogs’ football team, Grant Field, the home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets’ football team, and is currently constructing a new football stadium for Berry College in Rome, Georgia.