Underground Atlanta sale hinges on golf course land swap

Underground Atlanta photo by Thomas Moeller.
Underground Atlanta photo by Thomas Moeller.

The sale of Underground Atlanta to a South Carolina developer could happen in as little as two weeks if the city agrees to a controversial land swap, according to a report from WSB.

The Atlanta City Council is considering legislation to transfer the Bobby Jones Golf Course in Buckhead to the state in return for a large parking deck next to Underground Atlanta – the final piece of property needed for the city to complete the sale. Mayor Kasim Reed said the state would invest $20 to $50 million in the golf course, build a driving range and create a Bobby Jones museum in honor of the legendary golfer.

WRS Inc., a real estate investment company based in South Carolina, agreed to buy Underground Atlanta back in 2014 and build apartments, a supermarket, retail and restaurants.

The retail and entertainment district, best known for hosting the annual Peach Drop on New Year’s Eve, was created after the Civil War as bridges and viaducts were built over Downtown’s railroad tracks. The five-block section, containing about 12-acres, was eventually covered and forgotten as the street level was raised one-and-a-half stories by the end of the 1920s.

Underground Atlanta was rediscovered in the 1960s and the original store fronts, brick streets and gas lamps were renovated and turned into a restaurant and nightclub district in 1969, including the original Dante’s Down the Hatch. The heyday was short-lived and Underground became home to vagrants until the late 80s, when it was resurrected again in 1989.

The second heyday didn’t last long either as the upscale retailers and restaurants fled and were replaced by small shops, chain stores and fast-food restaurants.

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