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Friday, April 18, 2014

South Downtown's 'Capital Centre Atlanta' waits for a plan

What would have been Capital Centre Atlanta at Mitchell and Pryor streets
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • What would have been Capital Centre Atlanta at Mitchell and Pryor streets
On the corner of Pryor and Mitchell streets in Downtown, there is more than 75,000-square feet of empty building space. A dull brick building sits squarely on the corner, largely unnoticed by passersby. Peek through a window and you might see some half-opened cement bags, shut-down circular saws, and disorganized stacks of dusty wooden planks. It's like a construction crew was there yesterday.

The thing is: no one was there yesterday, the day before that, or the day before that. No one has worked inside the building, which was planned to become a high-end business hotel, for two years.

That could always change. According to Steve Patel, a California real estate broker looking after the building for the owner, investors have been looking at the property since November 2013. So far, no offers have been made. However, the building's sale and occupation could bring much-needed life to a pocket of South Downtown.

Patrick Swindall, a longtime Atlanta real estate developer and former congressman whose political life ended shortly after he was sentenced to one year in federal prison for perjury, bought the corner lot in September 2004 for $270,000. In 2006, he began developing a hotel and workspace for local and traveling executives named the "Capital Centre Atlanta," playing off the building's proximity to the Gold Dome.

The G6Design envisioned the interior of both buildings and a sign on the ground floor advertises their affiliation with the project. (Blueprints for the project can be seen on the company's website.) Under Swindall's ownership, the main atrium and signature sky lobby were developed, but the completion date was delayed.

Swindall also had plans for another property one block south of Capital Centre on the corner of Trinity and Pryor Streets, which he purchased in August 2004. The former Fulton County Public Defender's Office would be named the Jesse Doyle Early Learning Facility and provide daycare services. According to Fulton County property records, he still owns the building. (CL was unable to get in touch with Swindall to comment on Capital Centre.)

Construction on the building halted in 2010. Although developers have long since vanished, tools and materials are oddly enough, still in the building. Georgia Primary Bank foreclosed on 116 Mitchell Street in 2012.

The ground floor of the building is littered with empty coffee cups, Styrofoam boxes filled with half-eaten lunches, and campaign signs for a 2011 John's Creek City Council race. Steve Broadbent, the candidate in that race, says he does not know how the signs got into the Downtown building.

Today, Patel says, 116 Mitchell Street is owned by a California-based hotelier, but declined to reveal his or her name. (Fulton County tax records list its owners as Bhulabhai Patel and Kamuben Patel of Cerritos, Calif.) Patel says the property has since been valued at nearly $5 million and several investors are looking. Investors, Patel says, are interested in either potentially executing Swindall's upscale business hotel, building student apartments catering to nearby Georgia State University, or a private medical building. The tools and materials inside, according to Patel, belong to the private owner.

Once the building's sold and its future decided, it's not hard to imagine a construction team returning to the ground floor, sawing planks and eating lunch, where they were two years ago. The new proprietor could take advantage of a recovering economy and put the building to use for students, patients or hotel guests - this time, uninterrupted.

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