“Based on my conversations, it’s likely that the project will go to the Pope & Land and Fuqua consortium,” Lee said. “Based on my conversations with the Braves organization, although the requests for proposal haven’t come in, the conversations to date would indicate that.”
One of the finalists included a consortium made up of Cincinnati-based North American Properties, Houston-based Hines Interests and Los Angeles-based AEG.
Lee said while no final decision has been made, he predicted the job would go to the Pope & Land and Atlanta-based Fuqua Development team.
“My conversations with them (the Braves) were that they haven’t made a decision, they’ve had some very good conversations,” Lee said. “It appears that the stronger conversation to date is with the Pope & Land deal, but the RFPs haven’t been finalized and reviewed and a final decision will be coming next week.”
The Braves have selected The Jerde Partnership, an architecture and urban planning firm headquartered in Los Angeles, as the land planner for the $672 million stadium and $400 million mixed-use development, Lee said.
Last fall, the Board of Commissioners agreed to finance $300 million of the $672 million cost of the new stadium, which will be located down the road from the Cumberland Mall. The $400 million mixed-use development is being developed privately.
Jerde has a resume that includes work for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and Las Vegas’ Bellagio resort.
“They’re the land planners for the entire acreage,” Lee said. “Jerde is working to figure out how much relative retail, what it should look like, and all that kind of stuff. So the stadium is being designed by Populous. Jerde is saying how does the whole property work together and what does the private stuff need to be in order for it to have a world class destination 24/7 environment.”
The mixed-use development, Lee predicts, will look similar to L.A. Live, an entertainment complex in downtown Los Angeles adjacent to the Staples Center that was developed by AEG.
“It’s a mix of retail, office, condos, restaurants, shops, parks, water features. It will be a destination hangout kind of place,” he said. “You’re going to come here and you’re going to have a baseball stadium, and you’re going to have all these shops and all this retail, and all this condominium stuff that’s going to be part of the mix. And Jerde is helping them try to figure out what the look, the feel, the energy level, how should they design it to create an environment that is appealing for people to want to go and hang out and make it an experience, rather than just something you drive to, go to and go back.”
Commissioner Helen Goreham said it appeared to her the pieces were coming together, which was essential given that the opening date is spring of 2017.
“It’s a short time frame with a lot to accomplish, and I have to say that I have confidence in the Braves organization in their attempts to solidify the developer for and the land planner for this project,” Goreham said. “They have impressed me with their professionalism and with their knowledge, and I wouldn’t expect anything less than what I’ve experienced and would imagine that they would expect to have the top of the line in the industry as part of the project that they will be dealing with.”