The Gulch. Image Via Wikimedia Commons.
The Redlight the Gulch Coalition – a grassroots organization of citizens opposed to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ plan to develop the 40-acre economically depressed area of downtown known as “The Gulch,” has released its official statement on the revised terms of the deal the mayor presented to the city council yesterday. Simply put, they aren’t satisfied with Bottoms’ amendments.
“Media reports on yesterday’s rewrite of “The Gulch Deal” wrongly state the public cost has dropped to $40 million,” Redlight the Gulch’s statement reads. “If that were true, the Redlight the Gulch Coalition would drop its opposition to the deal. At that point, its drain on public resources would not be worth the city’s protracted debate.”
Redlight the Gulch volunteer Julien Bene, who served on Invest Atlanta’s Board for 8 years and former chair of the group’s economic development committee says the mayor’s office is being intentionally misleading about the true costs of the development; he calls the $40 million figure “absurd.”
“Public cost just in property tax diverted by the Gulch scheme is over a billion dollars,” Bene told Atlanta Loop. “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.”
The mayor’s release of the amended deal coincided with Redlight the Gulch’s release of an independent review compiled by professors from Georgia Tech, Clark Atlanta, Kennesaw State, Georgia State and other economics experts. The report argues the project would divert new developments away from taxpaying locations throughout the city, where they would have organically occurred and would create a significant drop in revenue used to meet the city’s needs – both in terms of infrastructure and schools.
The review suggests the development deal should be scrapped completely, and instead allow the gulch to be developed incrementally, and that deals should be made that address the city’s dramatic income inequality and pervasive poverty.
“That hundreds of millions of dollars are needed to make the site developable indicates that this is a poor candidate for promoting development at all,” the report reads. “A perfectly reasonable alternative is to leave the gulch as is. This is the realm for private financial speculation, not for local government action.”