Mike Stasny Gallery at Underground Atlanta.

The reimagining of Underground Atlanta continues as a rotating collection of 70 artists and entrepreneurs opens storefronts, studios, and galleries along Lower Alabama Street.

The initiative, called the Underground Roots Pop-Up program, gives the selected artists and entrepreneurs rent-free space at the rapidly redeveloping Downtown site. Yes, free.

Underground Atlanta’s owner, Lalani Ventures, launched the program in August with a call for applicants on social media, receiving over 300 applications. The rent-free space comes in the form of eight storefronts and nine mobile carts and fully activates lower Underground, which is drawing thousands of visitors thanks to the ongoing “Art of Banksy: Without Limits” exhibition.

“We were blown away by the number of up-and-coming business owners and creatives looking to test their concepts,” said Kris Pilcher, creative director at Underground Atlanta. “The selected concepts align with the new vision of Underground and our goal of bringing new energy and excitement to Lower Alabama Street while bigger redevelopment plans are in the works. We are thrilled to showcase a wide range of artists and entrepreneurs  this fall, giving each an opportunity to flourish in such a historic and culturally significant part of Atlanta.”

The opening of Underground Roots also marks the launch of a recurring Thursday night event series, Underground Night Market. Every Thursday from 6-10 p.m., guests are invited to experience Underground after dark and explore the Underground Roots galleries, shops, music, food, drinks and more. Underground Night Market is free to attend.

The initial vendors at Underground Roots include:

  • Itch Studios – An art and hospitality infestation by artist Sloppy George, with installations., gallery space, an art studio and a speakeasy. 
  • Mike Stasny Gallery – Neon lights, inflatable tubes and creatures that look like they came from The Upside Down dimension in “Stranger Things.”
  • Carl Janes – A gallery space by Atlanta-based artist Carl Janes, with live art curation and art for purchase, including large canvases and thought-provoking sculptures. 
  • Krazy Korn Gourmet Popcorn – One-stop shop for gourmet popcorn, founded by eight-year-old Kroy Richardson. 
  • Boomers BBQ – A BBQ restaurant featuring mouth-watering slow cooked meat using a combination of wet and dry rubs. 
  • Genius Pilot Academy – Explore hoodies, tees and a special sports collection by author and motivational speaker for the youth, Marquis Hill.
  • The Bougie Grazer – Be bougie on all occasions and enjoy handcrafted fresh, delicious and beautiful charcuterie graze boards & boxes.
  • Shorty’z Sweet Treats – Shorty’z serves freshly baked cookies, cakes and pies made from the heart and soul. Demere Daniels, owner and baker, honors her brother Shorty, who lost his life to senseless gun violence in 2006.
  • Dolo’s Pizza Co. – A delicious pizza joint serving “OG” pies and unique pizzas featuring special ingredients for an unbeatable taste.
  • Diamond Rule Coffee – A mobile barista cart offering organic coffee, espresso and tea.
  • Onward Theatre – A non-profit organization based in Atlanta, designed as an inclusive environment that celebrates the diverse voices of the ATL comedy community.

“Right now, as we are laying the groundwork and reactivating Underground Atlanta after years of being closed, we are thrilled to be able to offer temporary, rent-free space for burgeoning entrepreneurs and artists to be able to test their concepts,” said Shaneel Lalani, CEO of Lalani Ventures. “Through the Underground Roots Pop-Up program, ‘The Art of Banksy: ‘Without Limits’ exhibition and other property activations, we are re-establishing Underground Atlanta as a top destination for the city.”

For more information on activities at Underground, visit Underground Atlanta’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.