The Invest Atlanta team recently visited FlatironCity in Downtown Atlanta to learn more about the recent transformation of this Atlanta icon into a thriving innovation hub.
Sonia Sequeira, FlatironCity’s Community Manager, was kind enough to show us around, tell us more about the building’s history, and share their vision of supporting entrepreneurs in the heart of Atlanta.
"The developer envisioned transforming the building as a destination for start-ups, small business and enterprise companies creating an urban business community leveraging each other’s work culture, with Invest Atlanta’s partnership,” said Sequeira. “A big part of that is: how do you get more entrepreneurs Downtown? How can you bring more innovation here? And then, how does that result in more development in this whole area?”
The project received a Westside TAD investment from Invest Atlanta, as well as a New Markets Tax Credit allocation through Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc. (AEMI).
The 120-year-old Flatiron Building opened in 1897—five years before the one in New York—and is the City of Atlanta’s oldest standing skyscraper. The whole building was gutted, renovated, and reopened about two years ago as a “melting pot” for entrepreneurs.
“Part of the vision of the building is that companies will grow from the co-working floor to take a bigger space within it,” said Sequeira. “You have an entrepreneur who’s just starting out, and as they’re growing, they can grow within the building rather than continually changing their address.”
Volantio is a company that has grown quickly within the walls of FlatironCity. The company helps airlines better utilize their capacity, providing value for both their clients and airline passengers. They started with just three people working in a single office suite and have since grown to take up a floor of the building.
Other FlatironCity tenants include the creative digital agency Launch, the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI), Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), an industrial design company, and a culinary tour operator.
The building’s design contains call-backs to its history, as well as flourishes such as a café lined with work from local artists.
“One of our goals is to connect entrepreneurs in our space through their interests outside of work as well, so we’ve hosted live music, the Peachfest food festival downtown, and coffee tastings” said Sequeira.
Right outside the building along the new Broad Street boardwalk plaza, a “smart city canvas,” in partnership with the Metro Atlanta Chamber, is being tested out. This testing ground gives IoT tech startups the opportunity to demonstrate their products in a real-world environment. For example, Soofa has installed solar-powered benches where passersby can charge their wireless devices.
It’s no surprise that FlatironCity was awarded the 2017 Project of the Year by The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Atlanta at the organization’s annual Awards of Excellence.