In downtown Atlanta, the development subsidies can be red hot

About 40 percent of the total cost of Mercedes-Benz Stadium will come from public coffers

Mercedes-Benz Stadium
Mercedes-Benz Stadium before the 2021 SEC Championship game

Photograph by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The development projects described in this roundup are set to fundamentally reshape downtown. In Red Hot City: Housing, Race, and Exclusion in Twenty-First-Century Atlanta, his book about inequality and gentrification, GSU professor Dan Immergluck discusses why it’s important to ask what kind of city we want Atlanta to be and what types of development will get us there. He expressed concern about the freeway-capping projects in particular (see the Stitch and the Midtown Connector Project): “I’m worried these are going to suck up a lot of dollars from the public sector, the philanthropic sector, the development community—although I’m afraid it’s gonna be mostly public and philanthropic money,” he said. For example, in 2013, the City of Atlanta agreed to fund $200 million of the $1.6 billion price tag for billionaire Arthur Blank’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. However, that covered only upfront development costs and did not account for operating and financing expenses, which will be paid with nearly 40 percent of the city’s hotel tax over the next 30 years, for a total investment of roughly $700 million. Blank pegs private dollars at $850 million, leaving 40 percent of the total cost coming from public coffers. Experts are divided on whether or how quickly the city could recoup that investment with tourist revenue. (“The good news for the city, though,” Immergluck writes in Red Hot City, “was that Blank’s stadium only charged $2 for hot dogs when it opened.”)

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This article appears in our January 2023 issue.