Promise of Atlanta BeltLine connection spurs Armour-Ottley Loop’s evolution into hospitality, entertainment district

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Construction is wrapping up on The Painted Pickle, a pickleball play and entertainment venue, scheduled to open in January in the Armor-Ottley Loop neighborhood between Buckhead and Midtown. An Atlanta BeltLine connector trail is planned to be constructed along the site. (Dyana Bagby)

Justin Amick immediately knew that the massive warehouse at 279 Ottley Drive was the perfect location for his company's new “competition” venture, The painted picklescheduled to open in January.

The site is located in what is known as the Armor-Ottley Loop, an industrial, office and retail area in south Buckhead along Interstate 85 and the active Norfolk railroad tracks Southern and MARTA tracks. For years, investors have been attracted to the area for its adaptive reuse of industrial buildings and warehouses into office space and creative use.

They are now looking ahead to what the future could be when the Atlanta BeltLine expands into the area and the promise of a new entertainment and hospitality district.

“When I saw that the warehouse was the first building on the left on Ottley Drive and realized that was where the BeltLine was going to connect in a few years, it was a no-brainer,” Amick said about the choice of site. .

Amick is president and CEO of Painted hospitality, the company he owns with William Stallworth. They exploit the Painted pin in Buckhead and Painted duck in West Midtown. Known as ” entertainment “ At these venues, businesses offer customers a place to participate in a variety of games while sipping signature cocktails and enjoying wood-fired pizza or pulled pork sliders.

An illustration of the pickleball courts at Painted Pickle. (David Heimbuch Architect)

“And that goes hand in hand with places of social gathering and other forms of entertainment and social amenities,” he said. It was this experience that inspired them to develop and open Painted Pickle.

“To me, pickleball is not just a sport in itself,” Amick said. “It’s a lifestyle and we definitely want to bring that lifestyle to the city of Atlanta.”

Amick and Stallworth began playing pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in America, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amick said he and Stallworth noticed that pickleball had what they called “that social X-factor,” a game that could be played with drinks before, during or after a game.

The Armor-Ottley Loop used to be primarily an industrial neighborhood, but it's quickly attracting more and more restaurant businesses, such as Atlanta Spirit and Capella Cheese, Amick said.

The Armour-Ottley Loop is the oval shape in the center of this Google Maps. Once simply an industrial hub, the area is increasingly attracting entertainment and hospitality venues in hopes of benefiting from a planned segment of the Atlanta BeltLine.

Sweetwater Brewing Company, East Pole Coffee, Fox Bro.'s Bar-B-Que, Atlanta Track Club and Indie Studios are just a few of the businesses located in the area where a segment of the Atlanta Beltline is planned to be built in over the next few years.

A recent $25 million federal grant will spur construction of the Beltline and connecting trails, including the Peachtree Creek and PATH 400 trails in the Armor-Ottley business district and residential areas between Midtown and Buckhead. The funding will also go toward the BeltLine's first connection to MARTA at the Lindbergh Center.

The industrial warehouse located at 279 Ottley Drive provides nearly 33,000 square feet needed for Painted Pickle's eight indoor courts and one outdoor court. There is also plenty of space for a restaurant, bar and stage for live performances.

“The beauty of the Painted Pickled space is that it has great indoor and outdoor space and is located directly on the future Atlanta BeltLine connection point,” Amick said.

“Atlanta obviously doesn’t have a body of water; we don’t have a beach,” he said. “The Beltline is like our promenade that goes behind our space and connects all these parts of the city.”

David Minnix was an early investor in the Armour-Ottley loop more than a decade ago. He founded Independent Studios at 190 Ottley Drive, developed by Gene Kansas. He co-founded CineMassive at 150 Ottley Drive, recently acquired by Haivision Systems Inc. He also owns the property where Open Hand Atlanta is located, at 181 Armor Drive.

The lobby of Indie Studios at 190 Ottley Drive. (Special)

“I've been there through the whole transformation of the neighborhood over the last 12 years and it's gone from almost exclusively industrial users to what I would say now are primarily office users,” he said .

Transforming the Armor-Ottley Loop from primarily industrial to a variety of uses makes sense, Minnix said, because of its central location between Buckhead and Midtown and its access to I-85. The arrival of the BeltLine also increases development.

“It was a cool, unknown space and I really enjoyed that time, but it was inevitable that people would come and want to develop it,” he said.

Having Armour-Ottley Loop becoming a small entertainment and hospitality district is probably the best and highest use of the land, Minnix said, and will be “a net positive for everyone.”

“This little piece of Atlanta is great because it’s both historic and modern, and you don’t get that in a lot of other places in Atlanta,” Minnix said.

“It’s just this special little cove in Atlanta and I’m excited to see the BeltLine coming to the area,” he said.

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