The Gulch. Image via Wikimedia Commons.
After months of consternation, the city council voted to approve the Gulch redevelopment deal in a split vote just before midnight.
Council members listened to seven hours of public comment before deliberating, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Two of the four ordinances making up the deal passed by eight to six margins.
“We have established a new model for leveraging land development to achieve both economic growth and community good, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement. “Never in the history of our city has a single development deal been negotiated in a way that will have such far-reaching, generational impact.”
Not everyone is as enthusiastic as the mayor, though. The issue polarized the community, and while many were there to show support for the deal, the Redlight the Gulch coalition as well as other opponents showed up en masse to express their disapproval.
Before the vote took place, Redlight the Gulch member Julian Bene, who served on Invest Atlanta’s Board for 8 years and former chair of the group’s economic development committee, told Atlanta Loop the mayor’s proposal was a raw deal, and it amounted to a giveaway of public interests to private investors.
“Public cost just in property tax diverted by the Gulch scheme is over a billion dollars,” Bene said. “Then you add the sales tax which I value at about $500 million. The $40 million figure is a complete ruse – the cost is 40 times that.”
Bottoms, however, is confident the deal will bring prosperity to the economically depressed region, and Atlanta as a whole. “The Gulch redevelopment will not only physically bridge the gap between the east and westsides of Atlanta, bringing economic vitality to a long-undeveloped part of downtown, but also affordable housing, workforce training, enhanced public safety, and job opportunities throughout the city,” Bottoms said in a statement. “I am grateful for the approval by the Atlanta City Council and look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure that as our city grows and prospers, our communities are not left behind.”