Five years after Mercedes-Benz Stadium broke ground, is Atlanta’s Westside revival working?
Two preteen boys pushed bicycles through the streets of English Avenue one recent rainy, chilly afternoon. They paid little attention to the boarded-up yellow house beside them. It wasn’t much different than the hundreds of vacant houses that line nearby streets, with the exception of what was spray-painted across its faded plywood: “Devil Satan Rules the World.”
The ominous message is made more poignant in this landscape of fallow lots, abandoned street-side couches, and bungalows with caving roofs and collapsing porches. Amidst so much systemic poverty, you can’t help but notice the construction cranes and new high-rises in Atlanta’s core, a seemingly distant beacon of investment and affluence, just a few blocks away.
The city’s most expensive new building of all, the $1.5-billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium, casts a striking presence from English Avenue and Vine City next door. Turn a corner, summit a ridge, peek through the barren branches of oaks—and suddenly the stadium is there, standing like a 30-story origami from outer space, emblazoned with the iconic badge of luxury German automobiles. After breaking ground in early 2014 and opening three years later, the Benz (alternately: MBS or “the new Dome” to locals in its shadow) is the architecturally amazing magnet that has brought Super Bowl LIII to Atlanta, its first in 19 years.