ATLANTA — Under overcast Atlanta skies are the winds of opportunity. Teri Agosta, general manager of Signia by Hilton Atlanta, is getting set this week to open the city’s largest ground-up hotel development project in 40 years.
“We’re right in the campus of the Georgia World Congress Center, which does include Mercedes-Benz Stadium, State Farm (Arena), obviously the Football Hall of Fame,” Agosta said. “We have 976 sleeping rooms, and we have over 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space to include outdoor meeting space.”
Agosta said it took about eight years to get from an idea on a page to completed construction. That’s going to be the case for many projects that have been sitting on the backburner, delayed throughout the pandemic, but now seeing potential and promise for the city’s future.
Atlanta is set to host soccer matches for the She Believes Cup and Copa America in 2024, the College Football Playoff National Championship in 2025 and the World Cup in 2026. Atlanta City Council president Doug Shipman said the city is poised to host big-time events because it has done so before.
“I think experience really matters here,” Shipman said. “When Atlanta pitches for any of these big events like the Super Bowl or the World Cup, there’s never a question if Atlanta can pull it off, because we’ve successfully done it so many times. Each of those World Cup matches is one-and-a-half Super Bowls, and we’re likely to have multiple matches. So in a short amount of time, we could have years worth of attention happening in Atlanta.”
Shipman pointed to the city having the world’s busiest airport, reliable transit throughout the city, affordable hotel and food options, along with a bevy of other activities for tourists.
“We are very much a city of destination, whether it be travel destination, event destination, corporate relocation, new residents,” Shipman said. “We’re starting to see these things pick back up. Our sports offerings, Civil Rights legacy, our incredible climate. It’s a great place to come almost any time of year, and I also think over time, we’ve really become a family destination.”
Shipman said hosting big events also takes cultivating public-private partnerships to take some of the onus off the city and its funds. Law enforcement and ample security must be in place, along with long-term planning and improved signage and infrastructure.
A city spokesperson said there would be improvements coming to the Five Points MARTA station, Forsyth Street, MLK bridge and Centennial Olympic Park Structure. Traffic signals would also see improvement, and public spaces like that around Peachtree and Broad would be transformed in a way that would try and bring more people together.
The city is also working to turn a development at 2 Peachtree into affordable housing. The Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce noted the Atlanta Ventures project, as an investment that hopes to jumpstart the city’s startup market.
“Downtown is the heartbeat of Atlanta, and we believe that reimagining its entire experience could create a modern epicenter that is clean, safe, and thriving,” a spokesperson for the Metro Atlanta Chamber said. “Our goal is for Atlanta to be the most inclusive top five market for startups, and this project will have a monumental impact on that vision.”
So when skies eventually get brighter, Agosta and the rest of the city will be ready to take advantage of the opportunity.
“Guests will want to come back,” Agosta said. “And when guests come back, we’ll have to hire more people, more bars, more restaurants, more liveliness here in the area.”