Atlanta City Council members are supporting a resolution to build an Amtrak hub at Centennial Yards. Amtrak is seeking to expand passenger rail services to link Atlanta to cities including Savannah and Nashville. (Photo by Mike Armstrong for Amtrak)

Several Atlanta City Council members say Amtrak’s planned expansion of passenger rail should include Downtown where private developers are pouring billions of dollars to revitalize the city’s center.

Councilmember Jason Dozier’s resolution urging Amtrak to consider Downtown Atlanta for a new hub was approved at the May 25 Transportation Committee. It has also been approved by the community development committee.

Co-sponsors of the resolution that “[recognizes] the value of future Amtrak expansion within the city of Atlanta” are Councilmembers Michael Julian Bond, Lilian Bakhtiari, Matt Westmoreland, Byron D. Amos, Dustin Hillis, Jason Winston, Marci Collier Overstreet, Antonio Lewis, Alex Wan and Amir Farokhi.

As Amtrak looks to expand Southern routes including connecting Atlanta to Savannah and Nashville as part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan, Dozier said benefits of a Downtown Atlanta Amtrak hub would expand beyond the city.

“We have a lot of private investment projects that are going to be transformative for our city,” Dozier said during the Transportation Committee meeting. “But I thought it was important to ensure that we have an opportunity to ensure that there’s federal investment so there’s a transformation of our region.”

Downtown is in the beginning stages of a resurgence. CIM Group is undertaking a $5 billion plan to create Centennial Yards, the massive mixed-use redevelopment of what is known as The Gulch. Within walking distance of Centennial Yards, Newport RE is nearing completion of its first phase of a planned $500 million redevelopment of South Downtown including adaptive reuse of numerous historic buildings. Nearby, once-bustling Underground Atlanta could finally see a return to its heyday from new owner Shaneel Lalani, CEO of the Billionaires Funding Group.

Dozier also noted Atlanta’s history is rooted in railroads, including its founding as Terminus, and said an Amtrak hub in the city is a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity.

Atlanta, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, has a small Amtrak station at 1688 Peachtree Station, between Midtown and Buckhead. The station is on the Crescent line that runs to New Orleans and New York City.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.