Atlanta

Tech investors take over massive part of South Downtown Atlanta for redevelopment

ATLANTA — A group of Atlanta technology investors now own blocks of real estate spread across downtown Atlanta near Mercedes-Benz stadium.

The deal for Atlanta Ventures to take over the vast downtown holdings of a troubled European investment firm closed at the start of the new year.

The deal included 52 buildings -- most of them boarded up and vacant -- as well as acres of parking lots, all in the heart of downtown Atlanta along what used to be some of the city’s busiest streets.

“Every great city in the world has an active, vibrant, safe downtown. And it’s Atlanta’s turn,” Jon Birdsong from Atlanta Ventures told Channel 2 consumer investigator Justin Gray as they toured the area known as “South Downtown.”

Gray took nearly this same walking tour, almost exactly a year ago. At that time last January, the German investment firm Newport Group, had gobbled up all the real estate and laid out its vision.

But Newport group pulled out over the summer, defaulting on nearly $100 million in loans.

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Now the technology investors of Atlanta Ventures, headed up by Atlanta entrepreneur David Cummings, have stepped in.

Atlanta Ventures officially took ownership of the massive chunk of real estate last week.

Where the previous owners planned on constructing new high-rise apartment towers, Atlanta Ventures plans to focus on the historic buildings already here.

“So almost no office space. Housing, housing, housing,” Birdsong said.

Atlanta Ventures runs the tech incubator and coworking space Atlanta Tech Village in Buckhead. Monday, Atlanta Tech Village launched a new downtown location on Mitchell Street.

“We had 77 people sign up from Buckhead alone who were interested in coming down here. And I already have applications for another 25 new members,” Atlanta Tech Village’s Aly Merritt said.

Atlanta Ventures believes along with storefront retail and housing, some of the buildings could be ideal flexible office space for fast-growing startups.

As Atlanta-based investors, Birdsong pledges that Atlanta Ventures is in this for the long haul and has a target of the World Cup in 30 months to show big progress.

“As a firm that calls itself Atlanta Ventures, we are concerned about the growth and trajectory of downtown,” Birdsong said.

“We are doing real estate at startup speed. So that means that we are opening up as quickly as possible,” Merritt said.

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