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City considering turning Civic Center into sound stage

The 18-acre Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center Complex could become a Hollywood style soundstage, improved or redeveloped.

City of Atlanta officials announced Thursday that they are exploring current and future options for the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center, located just south of Midtown at 395 Piedmont Avenue.

For 12 of the last 15 years, the Civic Center has sustained itself, without taxpayers dollars, by booking entertainers and hosting major exhibitions and movie and television productions. For several years, Grady High School has staged its graduation ceremonies in the Civic Center's 4,600-seat theater.

Over the past two years, the Civic Center has been the location for 15 major productions including the pilot episode of The Walking Dead, Flight, Joyful Noise, The Three Stooges and Scary Movie Five.

Freemantle Media’s Family Feud has produced 360 episodes at the Civic Center and is planning to tape another 180 shows starting in April of 2013. Georgia now ranks third in film and television production, after California and Connecticut.

Built in 1967, the Civic Center originally served as the city's first convention center. It is named for Boisfeuillet Jones, the Atlanta philanthropist who was president of the Emily and Ernest Woodruff and the Robert W. Woodruff foundations.

Recognizing that the 45-year old Civic Center is located on 18 prime acres in the heart of the city but faces increased competition and challenges of an aging facility, city officials recently began analyzing the current state of the Civic Center to help determine the future strategy for the facility.

Future operation of the Civic Center will require significant capital investment to address upgrades required and make the facility more viable. The city did not specify the cost amount involved for expansion or redevelopment.

The city partnered with Central Atlanta Progress/Atlanta Downtown Development Authority to hire a team of experts, who presented a number of potential options to the city:

  • Maintain status quo—which would require an operational subsidy from the City
  • Expand the studio space for movie and television productions and consider alternatives for the theater
  • Re-develop the site all together to rebrand the facility as a full-service production facility and catalyze neighborhood revitalization

“Film and television is a significant, and growing, source of employment in metro Atlanta,'' Chief Operating Officer Duriya Farooqui said in a statement.  "The demand for production opportunities in Atlanta exceeds the supply. In the coming year we will be exploring all options, and the Civic Center may be well positioned, with the right business strategy to strengthen Atlanta’s position in the global entertainment marketplace.” 

The city has already invested $2.1 million dollars into the Civic Center in upgrades to the electrical and HVAC systems, turning one of its biggest electricity consumers into an energy-efficient showcase facility. The city is expected to save $200,000 per year, or a total of $3.57 million over the 15-year life of the Georgia Sustainable Environmental and Economic Development (SEED) contract.

The Civic Center represents Atlanta in the national Better Buildings Challenge, an initiative of the Obama Administration to make commercial buildings 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020 and accelerate private sector investment in energy efficiency.

Jay C. December 07, 2012 at 02:13 AM
This is not the first time redevelopment of the Atlanta Civic Center has been considered. I feel that some sort of live event/performance space should be maintained. What shape that takes would require more in depth study. I think in addition to studies by professional entities there should be a process similar to Blueprint Midtown. I took part in Blueprint Midtown in the late '90s and the process delivered a comprehensive workable plan, which is borne out by the development in Midtown.
Hunt Archbold (Editor) December 10, 2012 at 02:31 PM
SaportaReport Managing Editor David Pendered takes a look at proposals for the Atlanta Civic Center, plus writes that “the city-backed Screen Gems development at the Lakewood Fairgrounds is eliciting some negative comments from the Atlanta City Council.” http://saportareport.com/blog/2012/12/atlantas-buttermilk-bottoms-area-razed-for-civic-center-could-go-hollywood/

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