Lisa R. Schoolcraft | Atlanta Business Chronicle

The Empire State Building is shown in Midtown Manhattan on April 30, 2013. (Credit: AP)Urban Land Institute’s Atlanta chapter, at its Sept. 11 awards ceremony, recognized downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park with a special 20-year project award.

The park, built as part of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, has been an enduring part of the Games’ legacy, as well as a catalyst for economic development around it.

Here, David Allman, founder and chairman of Regent Partners LLC and chairman of ULI Atlanta, explains the decision to honor the park and the vision of its creators.

Q: Why did ULI choose Centennial Olympic Park for its 20-year project award?

ULI chose Centennial Olympic Park for its 20-year project award because, more than any other project we could identify, it has had such a profound catalytic impact on the development of an entire area, an area that was somewhat distressed prior to its creation. It actualized Billy Payne’s vision for a much needed “gathering place”’ for downtown that would become the central, unifying space in a walkable, connected mixed-use district. It has also had a dramatic positive impact on the tourism industry for Atlanta.

Q: Why do you think Centennial Olympic Park has endured the way it has?

Centennial Olympic Park has endured the way it has due to its central, strategic location and to good management by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority. Both day-to-day management of the facilities and periodic capital reinvestment has been critically important. Also, quality year round programming has made it a central gathering place for both locals and tourists alike. Read more