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Mayor 'caught by surprise' as development paused on planned Microsoft Atlanta campus

The campus was to be built on a 90-acre parcel in the Grove Park neighborhood on the Westside.

ATLANTA — Development on a planned 90-acre Microsoft campus in Atlanta's Grove Park neighborhood is on pause, Mayor Andre Dickens confirmed Friday.

The development project was first announced in early 2021, when Microsoft purchased the land on Atlanta's Westside. According to 11Alive's partners at the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Microsoft is not selling the land and "intends to re-engage in planning efforts if expansion is warranted," a company spokesperson told the outlet.

The news, Mayor Dickens told reporters at an afternoon press gathering, "caught us by surprise." But the mayor added his administration remains in talks with Microsoft about the proposed development and they have received no indication to this point that the project is outright canceled. 

“It caught us a little bit by surprise that Microsoft is going to pause their development," Mayor Dickens said. "They have to figure out what is their workplace strategy, how large to build this facility here, how many employees will be in office, how many will be remote. I’ve had a brief conversation with them, and they said they’re still committed to Atlanta, still committed to that location, and I’ve also encouraged them and downright told them that they must continue to do community engagement and all the things we wanted to do in that Grove Park, Collier Heights community.”

The Mayor's Office issued the following statement: "The Mayor called Microsoft leaders yesterday to express his concerns on the recent developments —particularly as they relate to commitments made of hiring Atlantans and the funding of a revitalization study for the Donald Lee Hollowell corridor. The 2021 announcement of the campus had economic consequences for the surrounding communities. This announcement of a delayed development creates uncertainties, and the Mayor wants to ensure that Microsoft fulfills the commitments it has made to our city."

Chuck Aligbe has lived in the Grove Park neighborhood, close to the proposed development site, for four years. He called it an area that has been historically underdeveloped. He told 11Alive Joe Ripley the news of Microsoft pausing development on an Atlanta campus came with mixed feelings. 

“It does kind of give a little relief as far as the pressure facing people who live around here," Aligbe said. "It’s also sad because a lot of people are looking forward to the development hopefully bringing nice, high-paying jobs, hopefully trying to revitalize the area.”         

Aligbe said he hopes communication with residents becomes more frequent and more transparent from Microsoft in the future. He said as the company developed the site down the road, he would like to see more affordable housing options, a grocery store and other businesses sprout up in the area.

“If a company wants to come here and revitalize an area, they should always be cognizant that it has to be a housing-first initiative to help make sure the residents who are here aren’t displaced and make sure the people who can and want to move down here can get to all the things that make the city great," Aligbe said.  “I would like to see Microsoft, and other companies trying to develop parts of the city, actually involve their local residents not just in standard back-and-forth meetings, but involve them in planning." 

According to the Business Chronicle, the company says it still intends to set aside a quarter of the land it purchased for those kinds of projects.

In a statement to 11Alive, Microsoft said it is pausing the planning process for its Atlanta campus and is re-evaluating its global real estate footprint. The company said the 90 acres it owns is not for sale, and in light of recent financial hardship, the company still plans to move forward with building three new data centers in Fulton and Douglas Counties.

The business news site Bisnow first reported the pause on the westside campus development on Thursday night.

There has been no groundbreaking to date at the site, and the software giant recently announced it was laying off about 10,000 employees amid a general workforce drawback in the tech industry. Microsoft said there is no timetable to resume development on the westside property. 

Read the full report at Atlanta Business Chronicle

The campus, at its announcement, was intended to have a capacity for 15,000 employees and was set to be a centerpiece of several transformational development projects on the Westside - including the Westside Reservoir Park that opened last year, BeltLine expansion and several housing, retail and mixed-use developments that are planned along Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway.

Microsoft had said at the time it would address gentrification concerns in the neighborhood, which has been one of the more historically underserved in Atlanta, with "important local commitments to community space, education, digital skilling, broadband access, non-profit work and more."  

It had planned for a quarter of the land to go to "the construction of affordable and empowered housing and other local community services and needs." 

Microsoft first established itself in Atlanta in 2007, and recently opened its Atlantic Yards facility in Midtown. 


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