Image via Wikimedia Commons.
The city council is scheduled to vote on the contentious Gulch deal tomorrow, but – as is par for the course – there are complications and considerations.
First, the critics are saying the renegotiated deal doesn’t address the fundamental problems that plagued its predecessor. Although the mayor’s office says the new plan’s redefined terms which place more financial responsibility on the developer and offers $150 million in public initiatives focused on affordable housing, safety and economic development, leaders of Redlight the Gulch – the grassroots initiative aiming to derail the plan – say the city is giving far too much away and getting far too little in return.
Second, Norfolk Southern, a Virginia-based Fortune 500 railroad company, has indicated it won’t move its headquarters to Atlanta if the Gulch vote doesn’t pass tomorrow, according to an Atlanta Business Journal report.
One Redlight the Gulch leader, Julian Bene, who served on Invest Atlanta’s Board for 8 years and former chair of the group’s economic development committee, says the pressure Norfolk Southern is placing on the council is unfounded.
“The right incentive, if any, for [the 850 jobs Norfolk Southern would bring] would be between $850,000 and $2.5 million, with an m,” he wrote to Atlanta Loop. “The Gulch deal would cost us residents on the order of 1,000 times that amount. If we’d given incentives like that for the 40,000 + jobs we won this decade, we’d have gone bankrupt years ago.”
Third, the city council has indicated – per the ABC – there still might not be enough support to pass the renegotiated terms. Although Council President Felicia Moore seems determined to hold the vote (telling the ABC “it’s time to fish or cut bait), the vote was postponed last time the council was scheduled to vote on it.
Bene said tomorrow will be a testament to where the council’s allegiances lie. “Constituents are continuing to make their opposition to this billionaire giveaway known to council members,” he wrote. “We’ll see on Monday whether a majority on the council listens to residents or to big developers seeking billion-dollar handouts.”