ATLANTA-Coca-Cola Co. has hired Oliver McMillan, a San Diego-based retail and residential developer, to develop a Downtown venture next to its planned new World of Coca-Cola Museum and the Georgia Aquarium on a 20-acre site, brokers following Coke’s development plans, tell

Coca-Cola officials declined to describe their firm’s newest planned project and city officials maintain even they are being kept in the dark. Coke owns the 20 acres between the north end of Centennial Olympic Park and Alexander Street.

The $200-million Aquarium, to be built on nine of the 20 acres, is scheduled to open in 2005; the Coke Museum, in 2006. The newest project will be constructed on the large amount of green space available between the new Museum and the Aquarium, brokers in a position to know tell Coke operates a daily museum in a three-story pavilion next to the Atlanta Underground retail and entertainment district Downtown.

Coke’s decision on its secret project will affect other projects being planned for the Downtown area, brokers say. “For example, if Coke is planning a condo or retail project of some sort, then a developer planning a similar undertaking might decide to revise his plans or develop something else, in order not to compete against Coke,” a Downtown broker who may be assisting on one of several area projects, tells

Ground-breaking on the Coke Museum is expected by the first half of this year or sooner, brokers tell Holder Manhattan Moody, a three-company group comprised of locally based Holder Construction Co., CD Moody Construction Co. and Manhattan Construction Co., will oversee the project. Brokers tell the estimated development cost is $250 million. Jack Rouse Associates of Cincinnati, OH is designing the exhibit space for the new museum. Jerde Partnership International of Venice, CA is the architect of record for the museum.

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