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Mayor Heckled : Atlanta Opens Underground Tourist Area

June 16, 1989|From United Press International

ATLANTA — Thousands of curious well-wishers braved driving rain and hecklers Thursday to see the new Underground Atlanta tourist complex, a $142-million attempt to bring night life back to the downtown business district.

"We thought the rain would keep everyone away, but look who's here," said art gallery manager Charmain Guzman as customers streamed into the three-tiered, 12-acre complex of restaurants and stores that is built partly under the city's downtown streets.

Mayor Andrew Young was heckled by advocates for the homeless when he took the stage to officially open the project. But the protesters, who handed out leaflets questioning the city's spending priorities, were booed into silence by the crowd.

Aimed at Suburbanites

Atlanta hopes the complex, which was funded by the city through development bonds and private investment, will not only bring suburban residents back to downtown after dark but also be an incentive to tourists and convention-goers.

The original Underground Atlanta opened under the city's viaducts in 1969 but was closed in 1982 because of the perception that it was riddled with crime.

Eventually, the new complex, which contains 100 retail shops and 22 restaurants and nightclubs, will be the site of a Coca-Cola museum honoring the city's best-known product, a museum on Atlanta history and an antique railroad.

Officials had planned to release 3,000 balloons during Thursday's opening ceremonies, which were to feature marching bands and dance troupes. But downpours forced festivities indoors, where children were handed balloons and bands marched in place instead.

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