Image via Wikimedia Commons.
Today, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms presented an amended gulch agreement to the city council, which her administration says places greater financial responsibility on the developer, CIM Group, but not everyone is satisfied with the changes.
The specific terms of the new agreement, according to city materials, include:
- CIM assuming all financial risk including all design and construction expenses and serving as the sole purchaser of the new TAD bonds
- CIM paying taxes in full, only receiving the benefit of TAD supplemental payments as reimbursements once compliance on obligations and expenses has been independently verified. For qualified expenses, Invest Atlanta will make reimbursement payments to CIM for up to 12.5 percent of total project costs or through 2038, whichever occurs first
- Reducing TAD bond proceeds available to CIM from $500 million to $32 million, with up to $8 million in bond proceeds available to Empowerment Zone Communities
The mayor’s office says that currently, almost no property tax revenue is generated by the 40-acre Gulch. If this deal is approved, the area is expected to generate approximately $21 million to $35 million in property tax annually.
“Our team has worked nonstop over the last several months to structure a deal that would not just bring much-needed development to the west side of downtown, but most importantly, would benefit communities throughout Atlanta,” Bottoms said in a statement. “With the inclusion of millions of dollars towards affordable and workforce housing, economic development and job training, this historic agreement is vastly different than any other negotiated by our City.”
The community benefits negotiated in the original agreement remain in place, according to city materials and include:
- $28 million investment into a citywide affordable housing fund
- Required minimum affordable housing residential units of 200 or 20 percent, whichever is greater
- $2 million commitment for workforce training
- $12 million investment into a citywide economic development fund
- Commitment to historic levels of minority and female-owned businesses with a goal of at least 38 percent utilization and an offer of 10 percent equity
- $12 million commitment towards the construction of a new seven-bay fire station
However, not everyone is impressed with the new deal. Former State Senator and mayoral candidate and one of the organizers of the Redlight the Gulch movement, Vincent Fort, told Atlanta Loop the deal is fundamentally flawed, and these amendments won’t address the root of the problem – the community’s return on investment isn’t enough.
“It’s a massive public giveaway without any citizen benefit,” Fort said. “I’m not impressed by [the changes].”
Fort says it will take time to fully analyze the 712-page document, but he expects a deep dive into the language will reveal more problems. “It’s was a bad deal; it still is a bad deal…” he said. “They need to trash this and start all over again.”