The Center originally opened in 1976 at a construction cost of $80 million. Originally known as the Omni International Complex, it was a multi-use facility that offered a European-style hotel, fine shops, restaurants, and two 14-story office towers. In the midst of all of this was an indoor amusement park and ice-skating rink. It was designed to offer a variety of services and activities, and to revitalize the inner city.
This was considered by many to be the most daring real estate development in down-town Atlanta. Unfortunately, the complex opened during the city's real estate slump of the mid seventies. The Omni International amusement facility attracted a market that did not complement the business atmosphere. The retail, business, and entertainment activity proved to be far too diverse of that time period.
In 1985,Turner broadcasting System, Inc. purchased 75% of the Omni International Complex to house Ted Turner's rapidly expanding cable network television venture. The following year, TBS purchased the remaining 25%. Thus began a new era for the facility.
In September 1986, the Omni International complex was renamed CNN Center, and it became the world headquarters for TBS, Inc. and CNN. TBS, not only became CNN Center's anchor tenant, but the strong presence of Turner created a focus that was lacking for the Omni International. Several major changes included the removal of the ice-skating rink and the creation of an atrium. Today, CNN Center contains more than 100,000 square feet of thriving restaurants and retail businesses.