- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - A struggling underground shopping complex in downtown Atlanta has been sold to a South Carolina real estate company and is slated to be redeveloped into a mixed residential and commercial center.

WRS Inc. is buying Underground Atlanta for $25.8 million and has plans to build a retail and housing development, Mayor Kasim Reed said. The city announced it was planning to put the property up for sale in March.

The Mount Pleasant, South Carolina-based real estate company was chosen through a competitive bid process. Atlanta’s Downtown Development Authority has jointly owned Underground Atlanta with the city since August of 1986, city officials said in a written statement. The sale is expected to mean $8 million in annual cost savings for the city.

“WRS Inc. brings a high level of expertise and strong track record of successful developments to an area of the city in need of a fresh approach,” Reed said in a statement.

WRS President and CEO Scott Smith told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he expects to close the deal in mid-2015 and begin construction by 2016. The company’s total investment in the redevelopment is expected to be between $150 million to $200 million, Smith said.

The sale of Underground Atlanta is another step toward revitalizing downtown, the mayor said. Reed added that he expects the new mixed use site to complement downtown attractions including the College Football Hall of Fame, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the new Atlanta Falcons stadium.

The transaction details are expected to be presented to city council in January for approval, Reed said.

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