Skyline of Downtown Atlanta, Georgia

Over the past 10 years, more than $6 billion has been invested in Downtown Atlanta. Surrounding Centennial Olympic Park – the real legacy of hosting the 1996 Games – is a critical mass of entertainment destinations such as the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke, Georgia Dome, Philips Arena, CNN Center, and Georgia World Congress Center.

But are you aware that another $1.3 billion of Downtown projects is underway? The College Football Hall of Fame and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights are far along in their construction schedule, and there are a number of hotel redevelopments and renovations in the works for the tourists these projects will attract when they open later this year.

With more interest in urban living, Downtown’s residential base has been growing, along with the number of apartment and condo options in the area. The area’s population is approaching 30,000, and retailers are taking notice of this growing and affluent market. Nearly 230,000 square feet of new shops or restaurants are being built or are planned for Downtown, which will only further attract residents and visitors.

The impact of Georgia State University also can’t be minimized – more than one million square feet of former commercial space is being renovated or developed by GSU. This includes a new law school set to open later in 2014 and the purchase of former office buildings like 55 Park Place and 100 Auburn Avenue for use by the university and its 32,000 students. GSU is on track to be the state’s largest university by 2015, and this student-body presence in Downtown creates a vibrant and exciting environment for office workers, residents, and visitors alike.

With the upward pressure on office rents in the Central Perimeter, Buckhead and Midtown, Downtown continues to offer competitive rates and a huge spectrum of office options. While other, more high-profile office submarkets may be getting tighter as companies relocate and/or expand, Downtown still offers a window of opportunity for companies interested in an urban location and all the benefits that come with a Downtown address. Coca-Cola recently made a commitment to Downtown with its relocation of 2,000 technology workers to the area, and other recent relocations include payment solutions firm Harland Clarke and local weekly newsmagazine Creative Loafing.

The final thing about Downtown you may not be aware of is the huge amount of infrastructure improvements that have been made or are now taking place. The Streetcar route, which will start to roll later this year between the park/entertainment district on the west and the historic Auburn Avenue/MLK neighborhood on the east, may be the highest-profile project, but there’s a lot of less sexy work being done throughout the area. The park will be celebrating its 20th birthday soon with a facelift, Peachtree Street and other traffic corridors will be getting upgraded, and the City Council has initiatives in the works to enhance the area as it relates to street vending, homelessness and panhandling.

In summary, there’s a lot more going on in Downtown Atlanta that you may be aware of. Do yourself a favor and come take a look – there’s an exciting 24/7 neighborhood for businesses, residents, and visitors that has unjustly been out of the limelight for far too long. I think 2014 will be the year Downtown Atlanta rightly takes the stage as one of the metro area’s greatest assets.

John O’Neill runs Cushman & Wakefield’s operations in Atlanta.  An Atlanta native, he’s passionate about Downtown.  Contact John at john.oneill@cushwake.com