MARTA has taken a significant step toward revitalizing the system’s nucleus station and setting the stage for future transit-oriented development in the heart of downtown, according to transit authority officials.

MARTA’s board of directors today approved the selection of global architecture, engineering, and urban planning firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to lead an overhaul of MARTA’s Five Points Station.

Funded by the More MARTA half-penny sales tax, the $150-million project is expected to transform the busy transit hub as riders know it today.

Notably, the massive canopy over the center of Five Points Station will be removed, opening up the facility. A more welcoming public plaza will be created. And the SOM firm will also design a potential reconnection of Marietta and Alabama streets.

MARTA officials say changes will lay the groundwork for potential development focused on transit in the immediate area, which would join a groundswell of investment pouring into downtown from Underground Atlanta to the Gulch and Hotel Row, among other development hot zones.    

The Five Points station canopy and surrounding areas today. Google Maps

“We recognize that the original construction of Five Points, while a massive investment in city and transit infrastructure development at the time, eliminated several old city-block buildings and bifurcated Broad Street,” Jeffrey Parker, MARTA general manager and CEO, said in a statement today.

“This transformation seeks to repair some of that urban fabric," Parker continued, "and reimagine this space as a bustling transit hub that improves the customer experience and contributes to the greater aesthetic and unique feel of downtown.”

Today, Five Points is MARTA’s largest and busiest station and a hub for 10 bus routes.

Multiple feasibility studies confirmed the station overhaul can be done without impacting operations while keeping riders safe, per MARTA officials.

Construction should begin early next year at latest, with a completion date scheduled in 2025—in time for the expected crowds as Atlanta hosts the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The SOM firm “will spend the next few months preparing for the most difficult part of the project, the deconstruction of the canopy, and closure of the opening that looks down from the plaza level to the concourse, and the removal of the large sign that hangs below it,” officials noted today.

The work will also not impact construction of the city’s first bus rapid transit line along nearby Summerhill Avenue, officials noted. That service is expected to begin in fall 2024 with a connection to Five Points.  

Recent downtown news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)