Atlanta Aerotropolis: Porsche, Fast Trains, Future City

For years, there has been talk and movements toward an Atlanta Aerotropolis. Now, with the Porsche Headquarters already under construction, and the great recession receding, it looks likely to happen.

Atlanta Aerotropolis

The Atlanta Regional Commission has stated one of it’s major goals for 2014 is the creation of the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance, a new economic coalition centered around Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

TVS and Jacoby planned Aerotropolis Atlanta as a mixed-use development zoned for 6.5 million square feet of Class-A office, hotel, conference center, retail, data center, business park, and the parking facility. It promises to be the touchstone for Atlanta’s Southside that Atlantic Station has been for Midtown Atlanta.

Master Plan
Master Plan

aerotropolis

John Kasarda, a University of North Carolina professor who has written a book entitled “Aerotropolis”, envisions integrated economic regions supported by airport-driven commercial development. Speaking recently at Georgia State University, he proclaimed,

 “You [Atlanta] can be a first-tier city. You have the trump card to do it.”

With 92 million passengers per year, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is an irreplaceable economic engine that – if tuned correctly – could raise Atlanta to the level of powerhouses like New York, Tokyo and London, all of which have constrained airports, according to Global Atlanta.

“When I look at Atlanta, I see a Formula One engine with a station-wagon body,”

he said, adding that the body can be changed with good governance and leaders who measure milestones in decades rather than years.

The idea is to cohesively and systematically develop massive land areas near the airport by attracting businesses that need frequent and easy access to airports — delivery-fulfillment centers, warehouses, logistics centers, exporters, Web commerce companies, biomedical manufacturers and other time-sensitive enterprises — other clusters of businesses that cater to existing companies will be formed, aerotropolis advocates say. Projects, such as offices, retail, recreational, entertainment and residential complexes, will soon follow, forming a city whose core and economic engine is the airport.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
A Russian High Speed Train
A Russian High Speed Train

High Speed Trains

Clayton News Daily reported that the Aerotropolis would be the multi-modal transportation terminal for up to  six high-speed rail lines connecting Atlanta with Chattanooga, Charlotte, Savannah and Birmingham, with Columbus as a strong possibility as well.  The Atlanta-Charlotte line has the most funding for studies, which will be completed in 2015. Studies show the others are feasible. These would be limited access high speed lines for trains around 160 mph probably following the existing interstate highways. Commuter trains with multiple stops have shown less success in feasibility studies thus far.

Porsche North America Headquarters
Porsche North America Headquarters

Porsche Cars North America

Already under construction, the new headquarters is estimated to result in a $100 million dollar investment that will eventually employ 400 in the Atlanta area. Jacoby and Porsche, in collaboration, have designed the new 26-acre campus that will include a 220,000-square-foot office tower. The site will include the Porsche Cars North America headquarters, Porsche Technical Training Center, and the Porsche Customer and Driving Experience Center, featuring a 1.6-mile test track and handling circuit.  

All wrapped up in a sleek ultra-stylish architectural package.

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11 thoughts on “Atlanta Aerotropolis: Porsche, Fast Trains, Future City

  1. Thanks, Wayne Daniel Anderson.

    This Aerotropolis project is certainly ambitious — even for an air hub as big as Atlanta! Indeed, looking at the huge lay out of Atlanta’s runways, I’m reminded again just how important the city is as both a national and global air hub. In a way, it’s amazing that a city like Atlanta, a few hundred miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, could have first developed as a major railway terminal and, then, building on that, as one of the world’s great airports!

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    1. Thanks for your comments, Philfine,
      The Atlanta Airport started in 1925 and by 1930, was the hub for Delta and Eastern Airlines.By the end of 1930, it was the 3rd behind New York & Chicago. It became an important Army Airfield during WWII. In the 50’s it had times of being the world’s busiest.

      It built the largest terminal in 1961, planned for 6 million travellers. That year it handled 9.5 million travellers!!! Then in 1967, only 6 years later, it started planning for the new terminal to open in 1980.

      The city has always had some very savvy businessmen who cooperated together on important projects like the airport.
      The same drive and ambition brought the 1996 Olympics to a not-so-large southern city. It’s huge, now, with 5.6 million metro population.

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    1. Excellent question. There are some good books on Atlanta, which include the airport, but I’m not certain of any academic studies. Thanks for your interest. See my post entitled “Do You Remember?” about the 1961 Airport, which I remember as a child.

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      1. Thanks again, wdanderson. But it bears repeating that Hartsfield’s explosive growth was truly a phenomenon. Other than JFk/Laguardia/Newark, there’s no other airport on America’s East Coast that challenges Hartsfield in terms of passenger volume. One might think that Miami, being the gateway to Latin America, could have usurped Atlanta. But it didn’t.

        By the way, may I ask you a favor? I’m trying to find an organization, company, or publication in the airports category that might hire me as a full-time writer or editor. If you know of any, or can think of where I might look, please let me know!

        Phil Fine
        Toronto, Canada

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  2. The Porsche HQ is actually going to cost $566-million per announcements made in mid-2013. Idk why they originally announced just a lower number in the beginning. I know many feasibility studies and impact analysis studies have already been completed for the Atlanta-Chattanooga alignments. Nice blog btw.

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    1. For me, it’s still amazing how an inland city like Atlanta, and a Southern one at that, could through sheer foresight, create and then continually nurture an airport to the point where it would become one of the leading air terminals in the world!

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  3. Now it’s also time for the South West side of Atlanta to get its act together. SW Atlanta of course is just a hop and a skip away from the Airport and, as most of Atlanta, saturated with trees and park-like-settings. I live west of I-85 in a residential area with nice 1950’s Ranch homes, which during the Real Estate crash sold for “Nothing”. My neighborhood was built during the 1950’s and ’60’s, partly for Delta Airlines Personnel. During the ’70’s it became an undesirable area for many people to live in, developers simply made people believe they had to move North of Atlanta to live a better life. Now it’s being promoted again! Prices are slowly recovering and it would make perfect sense for people to start moving (back) into this area. Actually this is already happening. More integration is necessary. If we want families “of all sorts” living here, we must concentrate on safety and better school systems. I spoke with many people that would love to live here cause it’s not just in close proximity to the Airport, bit also to Down town and Mid Town. Single and partnered people have , and are , moving here now. Those with children are ambivalent due to a non integrated school system.

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    1. IAlthough I hope Atlanta’s airport does get its high-speed rail links, the history of this type of transportation in North America has been beset with delays, set-backs, budgetary cuts and mechanical breakdowns. Witness CN Rail’s ill-fated Turbo train between Montreal and Toronto in the late ’60s, a similar experiment on the New York-Washington, D.C. corridor, as well as all the talk, but no action, on the construction of high-speed rail in California!

      The biggest problem in getting high-speed rail going always seems to be money. And with a U.S. government as cash-strapped as it now is, I wonder just how willing Washington will be (how’s that for alliteration?) in loosening the purse strings. Still, the prospect of such links — particularly in the rapidly growing southeast — is exciting!

      What’s always intrigued me about Atlanta is its forward-thinking attitude, as evidenced by its international airport hub, coupled with its southern charm! Yes, Atlanta is a big city. But it’s not a frenetic one, much to its credit.

      In the meantime, Tom, thanks for the update. And keep the postings coming!

      Phil Fine
      Toronto, Canada

      Liked by 1 person

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