Atlanta Sports City – the mega sports and entertainment development coming to Stonecrest – reached a major milestone this month with the purchase of the former Kohl’s department store building and 14 of the 200 acres that it will encompass.
Developers acquired the 145,000-square-foot building on Oct. 5 for $2.5 million, and say they will continue to close on other parcels of land every 90 days until all of the acreage is acquired.
Patrick Henderson, CEO of Atlanta Sports Connection, the company developing the sports and entertainment complex, said it’s great to see the pieces falling into place.
“I am so excited I can’t sleep,” he said Oct. 19. “It’s a long time coming and to see it in your sights is a great thing.”
Vaughn Irons, CEO of APD Solutions, the project’s master developer, said they will transform the two-story former Kohl’s building into a sporting goods store on its lower level, and on its upper level, “Tournament Central,” an indoor marketplace with 37 shops similar to Ponce City Market; a visitors welcome center, a 5,000-square-foot ballroom, a tournament lounge with wall-to-wall big-screen televisions, a 4,700-square-foot live music venue; and a Top Golf Swing Suite indoor golf center where visitors can virtually tee off at more than 120 of the world’s top golf courses.
He said the building will be gutted and the escalator that currently links the two levels will be relocated.
On Oct. 20, Irons, Henderson, Atlanta Sports Connection COO Zerick Foster, and Urban Retail Properties CEO Craig Delasin announcd the first phase of construction for the project.
They will build a new entrance to the Mall at Stonecrest facing Mall Parkway, and create a 341,000-square-foot Stonecrest Landing, an entertainment complex with a slew of fast-casual dining options; a restaurant row of six full-service free-standing family-style restaurants; a 125-room hotel; a 20,000-square-foot Sea Quest Aquarium, and a Mx Martial Arts (MMA) Bar & Grill.
The mall’s new entrance, with a façade designed to look like a baseball stadium, will go up between the New Vision cinemas and the upper level entrance to the newly acquired building.
Delasin said much of the current parking lot in that section of the mall will give way to the development, and that New Vision also will renovate the cinemas to make them consistent with the look of the façade and Stonecrest Landing.
Construction on the upper level of the former Kohl’s building will start in December and be completed in April 2018 to coincide with the start of tournament series for soccer, baseball, football and kick football.
Henderson says Atlanta Sports City will begin construction on its 200,000-plus square-foot field house next spring with a 2019 opening date.
The field house will include the previously announced Emory Sports Medicine Facility and full-size fields for football, soccer and lacrosse, up to eight basketball courts, workout facilities, a corporate development center, observation decks, and concession stands.
A 5,000-seat outdoor covered stadium will be constructed by spring 2018, but the cover won’t be erected until the summer.
Stonecrest Landing’s construction will also start in April 2018 and take 12 to 13 months to build out. It will include a trampoline park, a fly zone offering indoor parachute jumping and an amphitheater seating 3,500.
4.5 million visitors in first year
Delasin said the aquarium, which will be interactive, will offer kids the opportunity to feed and swim with fish year-round and it will host birthday parties. It is scheduled to open in spring in 2019.
Henderson says in its first year of operations, Atlanta Sports City expects 4.5 million visitors.
When the entire sports city is completed in 2020, the partners say their total investment will be nearly $350 million, up from the $200 million that was first announced in February. The increase is due to more components, like the aquarium and MMA Bar & Grill, coming on board.
Irons said that Urban Retail Properties LLC, which owns the 1.3 million-square-foot Mall of Stonecrest, will be Atlanta Sports City’s leasing and management partner.
With the retail landscape undergoing rapid change, Delasin said that mall operators like him have to create “more of an experience” for customers.
“This for us, this could not have come at a better time,” he said. “This helps us do that in a big way. We are elevating everything to a new level. That’s why we joined forces. If we do this right, there are other opportunities that will come.”