Jump to main content.

Project XL Logo

Atlantic Steel

Atlantic Steel: Final Version Phase 1



The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with the cooperation of State and local authorities, has initiated Project XL to work with interested companies to develop innovative approaches for addressing environmental issues. Project XL encourages companies and communities to come forward with new approaches that have the potential to advance environmental goals more effectively and efficiently than have been achieved using traditional regulatory tools.

Atlantis 16th, L.L.C. (hereafter referred to as Jacoby or Jacoby Development Corporation), a developer in Atlanta, GA has proposed redevelopment of a 138-acre site currently owned by Atlantic Steel near Atlanta's central business district. The proposed development is a mix of residential and business uses. The project plans include a multimodal (cars, pedestrians, bicycles, transit linkage) bridge that would cross I-75/85 at 17th Street and provide access ramps as well as connecting the site to a nearby MARTA (the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) mass transit station. Jacoby has worked intensively with representatives of EPA, the State of Georgia, local authorities, and public stakeholders to develop a site-specific Project XL Agreement that will allow implementation of this redevelopment.

The project site currently suffers from poor accessibility due to the lack of a linkage to and across I-75/85 to midtown and to the existing MARTA rapid rail transit system in Atlanta. Construction of an interchange and multi-modal bridge across I-75/85 at 17th Street would improve access to the site. The bridge would also serve as a vital linkage between the Atlantic Steel redevelopment and the MARTA Arts Center station. Completion of the redevelopment proposed by Jacoby is predicated upon improving multi-modal access to the area. In addition, construction of the 17th Street bridge was one of the City of Atlanta's zoning requirements for the project.

Why Is Project XL Necessary?

Jacoby is participating in Project XL for the Atlantic Steel redevelopment because neither the 17th Street bridge nor the associated I-75/85 access ramps would be able to proceed without the regulatory flexibility being allowed by EPA under this Project. Atlanta is currently out of compliance with federal air quality conformity requirements because it has failed to demonstrate that its transportation activities will not exacerbate existing air quality problems or create new air quality problems in the region. The Clean Air Act (CAA) generally prohibits construction of new transportation projects that use federal funds or require federal approval in areas where compliance with conformity requirements has lapsed. However, projects which are approved as transportation control measures (TCMs) in a state's air quality plan can proceed -- even during a conformity lapse. EPA approves state air quality plans, including TCMs contained in the plans.

What Flexibility is EPA Granting?

The flexibility Jacoby is seeking through Project XL is to regard the entire brownfield redevelopment project, including the 17th Street bridge, to be a TCM. The flexibility under Project XL is necessary because the redevelopment likely would not qualify as a TCM in the traditional sense. There are two components to the flexibility.

1) The first part of the flexibility is to consider the entire Atlantic Steel redevelopment to be a TCM. That is, EPA would view Atlantic Steel's location, transit linkage, site design, and other transportation elements (e.g., provisions for bicyclists; participation in a transportation management association) together as the TCM. Under the Clean Air Act, a project must demonstrate an air quality benefit to be considered a TCM. The Clean Air Act lists several types of projects that can be TCMs but its language does not limit TCMs to the measures listed. Those listed in the CAA include: projects that improve public transit; employer-based transportation management plans; projects that limit certain metropolitan areas to non-motorized and pedestrian use; programs to provide both travel and storage facilities for bicycles; and others.

The plan for the Atlantic Steel redevelopment incorporates many elements that could be TCMs by themselves, for example, the linkage to transit, the requirement that employers at the site will join or form a transportation management association, restricted access of certain areas of the site for pedestrian use, and paths for bicyclists and pedestrians. EPA believes that the combination of these elements will have a positive effect on reducing emissions. Under the Clean Air Act, a "transportation control measure" must actually be a measure -- an activity undertaken, a transportation project built, a program implemented.

2) The second aspect of the flexibility sought under Project XL concerns use of an innovative approach to measuring the air quality benefit of the Atlantic Steel redevelopment. EPA will measure Atlantic Steel's air quality benefit relative to an equivalent amount of development at other likely sites in the region. This type of comparison is available only to this particular redevelopment through the Project XL process. The entire Atlantic Steel redevelopment would attract new automobile trips and result in new emissions. Therefore, redevelopment of the site when considered in isolation would not qualify as a TCM in the traditional sense. EPA believes that the Atlanta region will continue to grow, and that redevelopment of the Atlantic Steel site will produce fewer air pollution emissions than an equivalent quantity of development at other sites in the region.

Why Is this Flexibility Appropriate?

EPA believes the flexibility described above is appropriate for this project because of the unique attributes of the site and the redevelopment. EPA's intention to grant flexibility to this project is a result of the combination of unique elements listed below. In the absence of these elements, EPA would be unlikely to approve new transportation projects during a conformity lapse.

1) The site is a brownfield. An accelerated clean-up of the site will occur if this XL Project is implemented. The clean-up and redevelopment of the former industrial site aligns with EPA's general efforts to encourage clean-up and reuse of urban brownfields. The likely alternative would be an underdeveloped, underused industrial parcel in the middle of midtown Atlanta.

2) The site has a regionally central, urban location. EPA believes it is environmentally beneficial for development to occur where infrastructure and transportation alternatives exist to support it. Redeveloping this property will result in a shift of growth to midtown Atlanta from the outer reaches of the metropolitan area. Because of the site's central location, people taking trips to and from the site will be driving shorter average distances than those taking trips to and from a development on the edge of the city. Shorter driving distances will result in fewer emissions.

3) The redevelopment plans include a linkage to MARTA. This linkage would make it possible for those who work at the site to commute without a car and would serve residents of Atlantic Steel as well as residents of surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, the transit link is valuable for those coming to the site for non-work purposes, such as dining, shopping, and entertainment.

4) The site design incorporates many "smart growth" site design principles. These principles include features which promote pedestrian and transit access rather than exclusive reliance on the car. Using these concepts, the redevelopment will avoid creating areas that are abandoned and unsafe in the evening, hotels and offices will be located within walking distance of shops and restaurants, shops that serve local needs will be located within walking distance of both the Atlantic Steel site and the adjacent neighborhoods, and wide sidewalks will encourage walking and retail use. Jacoby has also responded to the adjacent neighborhood's request for public parks, designating public space to central locations rather than relegating it to the edge.

5) The redevelopment incorporates many elements that could qualify as TCMs by themselves. In addition to the linkage to mass transit, the redevelopment will participate in a transportation management association (TMA). The TMA will monitor the number and type of vehicular trips and will create transportation management plans that would be implemented if specified performance criteria are not met.

With the exception of the site's accelerated clean-up, all of these elements will have an impact on transportation decisions of people who begin and/or end their trips in the Atlantic Steel site. The combination of the site's location in a central urban area, connection to the existing transit system, design that promotes pedestrian access, establishment of a TMA, and provision of bicycle and pedestrian conveniences are expected to work together to reduce growth in auto traffic in the Atlanta region. The redevelopment could demonstrate that the application of smart growth concepts can make a difference in travel patterns, even in Atlanta -- where people drive more per capita than any other city in the country. Therefore, EPA intends to use regulatory flexibility under Project XL to seek approval for the redevelopment and its associated transportation projects to proceed as a TCM.

What is the Phase 1 Project XL Agreement?

This Phase 1 Project XL Agreement is the first phase of a two-part agreement between EPA and Jacoby. It spells out the intentions of Jacoby and EPA related to development and implementation of this project. On February 24, 1999 a notice was published in the Federal Register announcing the availability of the draft Phase 1 Project Agreement for a 14 day public comment period. Comments received during that period and EPA responses are included in Appendix I. Like all Project XL Agreements, the Phase 1 Project Agreement itself is not legally binding -- legally enforceable commitments described in the Phase 1 Agreement will be contained in separate legal documents such as the State Implementation Plan and approved Remediation Plan.

Due to the complexity of the project and the numerous processes and analyses necessary to implement it, EPA and Jacoby have adopted a two-phased approach to the Project XL Agreement. This Phase 1 Agreement contains as much detail as possible at this time regarding the project and the intentions of each party. An additional Final Project Agreement between EPA and Jacoby will be signed in the future. Today's Phase 1 Agreement describes areas where further details are needed or additional discussions between EPA, Jacoby and stakeholders will occur. EPA and Jacoby hope to sign the Final Project Agreement in June, 1999.

Table of Contents

I. Parties

II. Purpose of the Phase I Agreement

III. Description of the Project

IV. Stakeholder Involvement Process

V. Implementing Jacoby's Vision for the Atlantic Steel Site
  1. Pedestrian Friendly Environment
  2. Mass Transit
  3. Brownfield Remediation
  4. Water Use Reductions
  5. Erosion/Stormwater Control
  6. Pollution Prevention
  7. Energy Conservation
  8. Solid Waste Management

VI. Project XL Acceptance Criteria
  1. Environmental Results
  2. Cost Savings/Paperwork Reduction
  3. Stakeholder Support
  4. Innovation/Multi-Media Pollution Prevention
  5. Transferability
  6. Feasibility
  7. Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation
  8. Shifting the Risk Burden

VII. Implementing Project XL for Atlantic Steel
  1. EPA Intentions
  2. Jacoby Intentions
  3. Project XL Performance Targets for Atlantic Steel
  4. Proposed Milestones

VIII. Project Implementation
  1. Legal Basis
  2. Non-Party Participants
  3. Process for SIP TCM Adoption
  4. Enforcement of SIP TCM Provisions
  5. Applicability of Other Laws or Regulations
  6. Authority to Enter Agreement
  7. Rights to Other Legal Remedies Retained
  8. Reporting/Annual Reports
  9. Unavoidable Delay
  10. Dispute Resolution
  11. Duration

IX. Withdrawal or Termination
  1. Expectations Concerning Withdrawal or Termination
  2. Withdrawal or Termination Procedures
X. Failure to Achieve Expected Results

XI. Transfer of Project Benefits and Responsibilities

XII. Periodic Review

XIII. Signatories and Effective Date.
List of Appendices

Appendix A: City of Atlanta zoning conditions including original site plan drawings

Appendix B: Stakeholder Participation Plan

Appendix C: List of Stakeholders

Appendix D: Original site plan drawings.

Appendix E: Letters of support from various governmental and private sector Stakeholders.

Appendix F: Remediation work plan approved by Georgia EPD.

Appendix G: Description and discussion of the air impacts analysis methodology and results.

Appendix H: Proposed TCM process schedule.

Appendix I: EPA responses to public comments on draft Phase 1 Agreement.



The Parties to this Project XL Phase 1 Agreement are the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Atlantis 16th L.L.C. (Jacoby). Other entities may be parties to the Final Project Agreement.


Project XL is a pilot program to test new approaches for meeting environmental goals and responsibilities. This site-specific Agreement will allow EPA to gather data and evaluate experiences that will help the Agency make sound decisions as it considers ways to improve the current regulatory system. While EPA, working with state and local agencies, hopes to transfer flexible new approaches in this Agreement that are determined to be successful into the current system of environmental protection, careful analysis of the results of the Project is a necessary prerequisite for broader implementation. In this Project, the use of flexibility to allow a major downtown redevelopment with associated transportation improvements to proceed during a conformity lapse raises complex legal, policy, and scientific issues and uncertainties. These issues and uncertainties will require extensive post-implementation analysis before EPA can determine whether such flexibility can or should be offered to other entities in the future. Therefore, as with all XL Projects, the flexibility granted in connection with this Agreement, in and of itself, establishes no precedent with regard to other redevelopment projects. Entities contemplating projects requiring equivalent or similar flexibility to proceed should be aware that EPA does not intend to consider additional requests for flexibility until the results of this Agreement have been received and analyzed.

The Parties enter into this Project XL Phase 1 Agreement (Agreement) to accomplish four principal purposes. They are:

To describe how Jacoby intends to attain measurably Superior Environmental Performance when compared to similar types of real estate developments, as contemplated by EPA's Project XL criteria.

To describe the commitments of EPA regarding the flexibility needed by Jacoby to accomplish the Superior Environmental Performance described in this Agreement and also to describe the related commitments made by Jacoby.

To identify the procedures, processes and approvals necessary to allow this project to go forward.

To state that the Parties do not intend to create legal rights or obligations by this Agreement, and describe rules, permits, or other mechanisms by which EPA intends to implement the provisions described in this Agreement.


Jacoby seeks to construct a mixed-use infill development on approximately 138 acres of property ("Property") in the heart of Midtown Atlanta, Georgia. When the redevelopment is complete, the Property will include a combination of residential, office, retail and entertainment space in a pedestrian oriented environment with linkage to rapid rail mass transit. The Property is currently home to the Atlantic Steel Mill, an old industrial steel mill which has operated at the Property for almost a century and which ceased operations in December, 1998. Construction of the project will allow remediation of the property to occur.

The project site is located on the western boundary of the I-75/85 corridor (a 14-lane interstate highway system), the major downtown thoroughfare. Most existing office and retail development in the area is located on the eastern side of this thoroughfare. As such, the site currently suffers from poor accessibility due to the lack of a linkage to most of the existing development in the area. As part of this Project, construction of a bridge across the thoroughfare to create this linkage is proposed. In addition, the bridge would provide a connection to the existing rapid rail transit system in Atlanta (the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority or MARTA) and access to and from the Interstate system. Without the bridge, the development is not economically viable. Moreover, the City of Atlanta made the bridge a condition to the rezoning necessary for the proposed redevelopment.

Jacoby has submitted a conceptual design of the 17th Street bridge and interchange to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GA-DOT). The conceptual design includes two lanes in each direction for vehicular traffic, dedicated bicycle and pedestrian throughways, the capacity for future addition of a light rail line to link the site to the Arts Center MARTA station, and access ramps to and from I-75/85. Submission of the conceptual design to GA-DOT is an initial step in seeking necessary approval from transportation authorities including GA-DOT and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Jacoby hopes that a final design for the 17th Street bridge and transportation corridor will be approved in 1999. More details regarding the bridge design will be contained in the Final XL Project Agreement.

Current regulatory conditions and Atlanta's non-attainment status prevent construction of the bridge unless the entire Atlantic Steel redevelopment project is considered a transportation control measure (TCM). Jacoby has requested and proposed to EPA that the mixed use redevelopment and transportation linkage components of this project, in conjunction with the brownfield remediation which will occur if the project proceeds, be considered as an XL Project for the express purpose of determining whether, considering the totality of circumstances, the Project can be considered a TCM.

Jacoby and EPA intend to use the creativity and flexibility allowed by Project XL to determine the overall superior environmental benefits which will result from the project. The proposed project could serve as a model of infill land development -- an alternative to what is often referred to as "sprawl." As distinguished from sprawl, the urban livable community proposed by Jacoby at the Property would result in moderate to high concentrations of residential and employment trip ends, a vertical and horizontal integration of land uses, and a highly interconnected vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle circulation system both within the development and to adjacent areas of midtown and rapid rail transit. It is anticipated that when all of the components are collectively considered, the project will qualify as a TCM and thus the redevelopment may occur even though a conformity lapse exists in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area.


Stakeholder involvement is considered essential by both Jacoby and the EPA and has been an important part of the concept and rezoning considerations since the project began in early 1997. It is important to note that multiple public meetings, discussion groups, individual contacts, and a full public notice and review process relative to this project was held during the rezoning of this property. That process included the City of Atlanta Planning Department, Georgia Department of Transportation, Atlanta Regional Commission, nine neighborhood organizations, and several other groups such as the Midtown Alliance and Georgia Tech. These groups collaborated on the concept, design, and conditions put in place in the City of Atlanta rezoning document. These changes and conditions replaced the existing land use zoning classification of industrial with a mixed-use classification including residential, retail, office, and hospitality at urban densities. Many of the measures to be taken by Jacoby as expressed in this Phase 1 Agreement are products of the rezoning process. The City of Atlanta zoning conditions are contained in Appendix A.

After public input and review, the rezoning was approved 9-0 by Neighborhood Planning Unit E which represented each of the nine involved neighborhoods, the City of Atlanta Zoning Review Board 9-0, recommended to the City Council by the Zoning Committee 5-0, and passed by the Atlanta City Council 15-0. The order was signed by the Mayor, Bill Campbell as soon as it passed through the City Council approval mechanism. The rezoning process began in May 1997 and continues today, as one of the agreements was that a periodical status report would be given.

The Stakeholder Participation Plan (SPP), Appendix B, is intended to supplement previous activities and describe the basic method by which additional input can continue to be solicited and received throughout the duration of the project. Stakeholder input and community goals will be considered as the Atlantic Steel Redevelopment is implemented. Jacoby will maintain and update the SPP to provide for continued stakeholder involvement over the duration of this XL project. Stakeholders who have been identified and asked to participate in the development of this Project are listed in Appendix C.


Current economic and growth projections for the Atlanta region suggest that the vast majority of new development will continue to occur in suburban "greenfield" areas. The proposal to redevelop the Atlantic Steel site represents a significant departure from these trends.

The project constitutes a major reinvestment in the downtown Atlanta area and would use existing infrastructure and provide a critical linkage to existing mass transit. The proposal contains numerous features designed to promote quality of life in a new mixed use urban community. A transportation corridor will span the interstate and reestablish a link from the Atlantic Steel site to existing community areas and to the Arts Center MARTA rail station. The primary area of commercial space on the site will be located on the east side of the site adjacent to the freeway and close to existing large-scale development along the Peachtree Street corridor. The middle portion of the site will be a residential village curving around a manmade lake and within walking distance of adjacent shopping, entertainment, office and recreation. Two high-rise residential towers will flank the residential village to the east and west and complementary shops (coffeehouses, convenience stores, florists, etc.) will dot the streetscape. The western portion of the site is reserved for a technology based office and research village affiliated with the Georgia Institute of Technology. Initial plans for lower office densities and extensive landscaping planning will be revised to incorporate a greater mix of uses, such as residential and retail components. The goal is to create an active setting for technology-based research, living, and social interaction. The proposed development will provide the opportunity to walk between centers of residential, entertainment, cultural, employment, and recreational uses, thus offsetting vehicular travel and encouraging a "neighborhood" environment. Finally, the development will reconnect existing neighborhoods to the east which were separated with the construction and expansion of the I-75/85 corridor.

The project creates the potential to document the long-term air quality benefits of infill developments, particularly since the project combines improved access to rapid transit with the land use attributes of a centrally-located, compact, interconnected, pedestrian-oriented mixed use development. Project XL provides the opportunity to compare the proposed development to alternative greenfield developments and thereby link the proposed development and accompanying transportation investments for purposes of an overall air quality analysis.

If this XL Project does not proceed, development of the property as described in this Phase 1 Agreement cannot occur. The City of Atlanta zoning conditions require the bridge as a precondition to construction of the proposed development at the property. Moreover, because of the current poor access to the property, the project cannot be economically justified without the bridge and resulting improved access.

If the Project as described in this Agreement does not occur, greenfield sites would likely absorb much of this growth. Continued industrial use of the site would likely contribute adversely to the overall environmental impact in the area. Should the bridge not be constructed, it is likely that the property would be developed as light industrial warehouse space with a "Big Box" retail tenant located in the eastern portion of the property. Such a project would contain few, if any, of the features of this XL Project which promote air quality. Moreover, if this XL Project should fail to be implemented, little if any remediation is expected to take place at the site. Without the sale and development of the property, sufficient resources do not exist to undertake a cleanup. Sale of the property and the corresponding Jacoby development is the only existing method by which timely remediation of the property can occur.

The Jacoby Vision for Atlantic Steel is outlined below.


This project will include unique features to encourage pedestrian friendliness. In consultation with EPA, Jacoby has considered and incorporated into its site design a number of suggestions from the nationally recognized town planning firm, Duany Plater-Zyberk. Pedestrian-friendly site design features of this project include:
· Construction of walkways and open areas to connect residential, office, retail and entertainment areas within the development.
· Extra-wide sidewalks throughout the development.
· Realignment of streets to create direct connectivity between neighborhood centers of interest.
· Inclusion of a lake/park in the center of the development.
· The distance from any edge of the development to transit services (e.g., shuttle) will be a reasonable pedestrian walking distance; in most cases, under 1100 feet which is a walk of less than five minutes for the average pedestrian.
· Installation of sidewalk furniture, lighting and landscaping to encourage pedestrian use of the site.

Jacoby specifically asked the City of Atlanta to include a number of these concepts in the zoning conditions: "Design standards with dimensions for streetscape, pedestrian circulation and bike paths will be indicated on the attached drawing from Thompson, Ventulett and Stainback (TVS), and pedestrian and bicycle elements will be installed concurrently with the street system. These standards are shown in the attached drawings dated February 2, 1998, stamped received by the Bureau of Planning April 3, 1998, and respectively include: (a) a plan drawing of proposed 16th and 17th Streets; (b) a section through 16th Street; and (c) a section through 17th Street." The drawings from the original site plan are contained in Appendix D. As noted above, a number of changes suggested by Duany Plater-Zyberk have been incorporated into the site plan for the redevelopment. These changes will be reflected in an updated site plan which is currently being completed. EPA and Jacoby will continue to evaluate the site plan and seek opportunities to maximize the performance of the redevelopment from an environmental performance and livability standpoint while preserving its economic viability. An updated site plan will be available in the near future and will be included as an appendix to the Final Project Agreement.


The Atlantic Steel redevelopment, as described by this Phase 1 Agreement, meets EPA's Project XL criteria. See, 60 Fed. Reg. 27,287 (May 23, 1995). EPA and Jacoby expect to confirm this determination in the Final Project Agreement when all remaining project details are available. The criteria and the bases for stating that they are met, are summarized below.


This Phase 1 Agreement identifies administrative mechanisms that EPA intends to propose for public comment to implement Project XL for Jacoby's Atlantic Steel Re-development.


1. Enforceable
Jacoby will provide of right-of-way in the development to MARTA or another acceptable entity for the construction of an appropriate transit linkage including a station if necessary, connecting the Atlantic steel site to the Arts Center MARTA station;
Jacoby will provide an interim shuttle service to the MARTA Arts Center Station after construction of the 17th Street bridge and after of certificates of occupancy are issued for retail components of the development. Jacoby will continue to provide this service until MARTA or another entity assumes responsibility for a mass transit linkage, or for the duration of this Agreement, whichever is less. The TCM will include the duration and operating details regarding the shuttle service such as number and location of stops, headways and capacity. Jacoby will provide funding or a funding mechanism for the establishment of a Transportation Management Association (TMA). incorporation of people movers and other alternative forms of public transportation within the project; inclusion of at least seven acres of open space;

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.