Urbanize Atlanta | In Summerhill, Georgia State's new basketball arena, convocation center is full speed ahead

Long-underused site, now cleared, could help link downtown campus with growing neighborhood. 

If you’ve lived in Atlanta long enough, and were of driving age a decade ago, you might recall the shabby Georgia Department of Driver Services facility a couple of blocks north of what used to be Turner Field.

“I just went and got my Georgia license,” your friends who moved to Atlanta might have said back then. “Was that a double-wide trailer? In a big field?”

The storied DDS complex was demolished about five years ago, and that section of Summerhill has festered as little more than a weedy lot. Until now.

In recent weeks, crews have cleared the 6-acre site for Georgia State University’s new $85-million convocation center, marking the latest development in a frenzy of investment activity in the area.

Beyond graduation ceremonies of up to 7,500 people, the center will host Panthers basketball games, esports tourneys, large conferences, and 8,000-seat concerts, according to GSU. That’s an upgrade from the growing university’s current digs—the circa-1972 Georgia State Sports Arena—where max capacity is 3,500 seats.

GSU now graduates more than 10,000 students each year, officials have said.

The convocation center project could help bridge the gap between GSU’s expanding downtown campus and its investment in the former MLB stadium, which is neighborhooded by hundreds of multifamily units that have replaced asphalt lots in recent years.

It broke ground in November and is expected to open in August 2022.  

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By Josh Green, Urbanize Atlanta

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