Fort McPherson: New plan is to ask Army for land in one fell swoop

By David Pendered

The state authority overseeing the conversion of Fort McPherson to civilian use made plans Thursday to ask the Army to turn over most of the fort at one time, rather than turn it over in a series of smaller transfers.

Such a move would give the authority more control over the pacing of the redevelopment of most of the 488-acre fort. The property has been a military island in southwest Atlanta since Fort McPherson opened in 1885, and it will revert to civilian use following its closure last year as part of the nation’s overhaul of military bases.

Staff Row, the officers' quarters in the historic district at Fort McPherson.

Staff Row, the officers' quarters in the historic district at Fort McPherson. Credit: U.S. Army

The plan to seek control of most of the fort is likely to come up in conversations next week with a team of Army consultants. The group is slated to visit Atlanta to discuss the framework for the property transfer, said Jack Sprott, executive director of the state authority that’s overseeing the fort’s conversion.

Two portions of the fort would not be part of the deal: About 12 acres for the Veterans Administration, and an acre for an existing credit union.

The commissary would remain open and allowed to operate for a reasonable period of time, Sprott said. Terms will be part of the negotiation over the larger transfer.

The decision to seek all of the fort in one major deal amounts to only a plan at this time because there was not a quorum at the Thursday meeting of the Fort McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority.

Fort McPherson redevelopment plan.

The planned research center at Fort McPherson would be built in the southeastern corner of the property. Credit: Fort McPherson Local Implementing Redevelopment Authority.

Without a quorum, the authority was unable to move into executive session to discuss and finalize property matters. Consequently, the members who were present listened to a presentation from Sprott and agreed that they expect to move toward submitting a single request for the Army to transfer the property to the authority’s control.

“We had been looking at doing it in stages and seeing what was marketable,” Sprott said. “Now we’re more in concert that it’s more advantageous to request in our application for control of the whole property.”

An existing deal with a developer to retool 113 acres of the fort will not be affected by any decision the authority makes concerning the rest of the site. The Army is expected to approve the transfer of that portion of the site as those plans come together.

The master developer for that tract is Cleveland-based Forest City, with local partners Cousins Properties and Integral Group. The team is charged with devising a concept for the tract, arranging the financing and finding tenants for the new homes, shops and offices that are to be built.

 

About David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with nearly 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.
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