Georgia Tech’s years-long plans to build a $750 million biosciences and health innovation district on its campus has cleared a major hurdle with city officials, setting the stage for a potential groundbreaking early next year.
The city’s Zoning Review Board on Nov. 12 recommended approval to rezone nearly 20 acres of mostly undeveloped land surrounding Georgia Tech’s existing 11-acre Technology Enterprise Park. The 20-acre addition to the TEP would make way for a 2.2-million-square- foot expansion for new lab and research facilities, office space and apartments. The goal is to create a live-work-play innovation hub modeled after the university’s world-renowned Tech Square while adding 5,000 jobs to the rapidly expanding biosciences and life sciences fields. The City Council is scheduled to consider the project Dec. 7.
Burke didn’t say if a developer for the project has been selected but noted that many have shown interest. The COVID-19 pandemic and its continuing impacts to the economy could affect the timing for a groundbreaking, he said, but plans are to begin the project within the next several months.
“We’re in this odd, unprecedented time,” he said. “You will definitely see activity next year, but I can’t say which quarter.”
Technology Enterprise Park currently has only one building for research and labs. Expansion plans have been in the works for close to a decade and would include 610,000 square feet of lab and research space; 1 million square feet of office space; 100,000 square feet of commercial space; and about 315,000 square feet of space for approximately 416 units of apartments.
The redevelopment is intended to create an innovation district for research and technology, with a focus on biomedical innovation, digital health, advanced manufacturing and medical devices, according to the university.
Georgia Tech’s overall campus growth, including the planned expansion of Technology Enterprise Park, is part of the Westside’s booming development. The surrounding area includes the historically Black neighborhoods of English Avenue and Vine City that have suffered from decades of disinvestment and are vulnerable to rapid gentrification, including longtime residents facing potential displacement as property taxes and rents continue to rise.
Georgia Tech’s new apartments, as part of the Technology Enterprise Park expansion, include an affordable housing component as required by city ordinance for Westside neighborhoods. Georgia Tech wants to provide 10% of the units at 60% of the area median income, with studio apartments renting at $827, one-bedroom units for $897 and two-bedroom units at $1,077.
However, Georgia Tech is in talks with the English Avenue Neighborhood Association to come up with an agreement that could include asking the developer to provide more affordable housing than required, Burke said. City officials have said Invest Atlanta, the economic development authority, would be willing to work with the developer to ensure affordable housing, he added.
Georgia Tech is also working with the EANA to finalize an agreement to provide job opportunities to local residents as well as to continue its education programs at local schools, Burke said.
Reporter, Atlanta Business Chronicle Atlanta Business Chronicle