BRADENTON, Fla. — The Georgia Department of Transportation has issued a request for proposals for a master developer to undertake a complex multi-modal passenger terminal in downtown Atlanta that will help shape future city development.

GDOT is using a public-private partnership to select a master developer to assist in the planning, development, design, construction, financing, and management of the project, according to department officials. They described the ambitious project as one of the largest transit-oriented projects in the United States.

“We hope it will define what’s going on in the city in the future,” said Vicki Gavalas, special assistant to the commissioner for strategies and development.

In addition to GDOT and the city of Atlanta, the project includes a number of stakeholders: the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.

The project is located near Atlanta’s central business district and a major MARTA station. It will be a hub for existing and proposed transportation networks in the metro region that include MARTA rail and bus systems, regional express bus systems, the Georgia railroad network, and future transportation modes such as high-speed rail, light rail, and the Atlanta streetcar.

Another component will incorporate commercial and retail development, housing, open space, and civic functions for the proposed terminal site and adjacent areas.

Gavalas said GDOT has conducted one-on-one sessions with a number of international and local firms that have shown interest in the project. The multi-modal project was estimated to cost about $320 million in 2005 but cost estimates will be updated after the master developer is selected, officials have said.

“We’ve spent the last year working closely with key partners, and have prepared a great deal of information that will help ensure this project’s success,” said GDOT commissioner Vance Smith Jr.

The work will be done in phases and the master development agreement is expected to be amended over time after negotiating each phase of work.

According to the RFP, public funding may be available to support pre-development activities and may be required to subsidize land assembly, transit-related site improvements, and construction of the transportation facilities. Once the terminal is complete, GDOT anticipates income from revenue-generating uses to be shared with the developer.

“A phased but long-term public-private relationship is envisioned,” the RFP said.

Project funding may include money from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program, or future funding sources such as a national infrastructure bank. GDOT may apply for federal loans, but it will “not incur indebtedness of any kind on behalf of the master developer,” the RFP said.

GDOT and other stakeholders “coordinate to identify potential conduit issuers for project-related debt” and there may be opportunities to access tax-increment financing through Atlanta’s tax-allocation districts as well as the federal new market tax-credit program.

The procurement schedule calls for a pre-proposal workshop to be held Jan. 5. Initial RFP responses are due Jan. 10.

GDOT will review the proposals and shortlist at least three finalists, who will be asked to submit detailed proposals. It will then rank the finalists and negotiate the terms of the contract.

If the department is unable to reach agreement with the highest-ranked finalist, it will negotiate with firms in order of ranking to reach an agreement. It is hoped a final agreement will be signed by June.

The RFP and supporting documents are available at www.georgiap3.com/mmpt. The website includes information on Georgia’s public-private partnership program.

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