By David Pendered
The Atlanta Housing Authority proposes no new initiatives in the first forward-looking report it has prepared for HUD since former CEO Renee Glover left last year following a public two-year dispute with Mayor Kasim Reed.
The report does say AHA intends to provide the Falcons with land near the new stadium for a surface parking lot. This site is part of the now-demolished housing project, Herndon Homes.
The report clearly states the decision to provide no new initiatives for the fiscal year that begins July 1: “AHA is not proposing any new initiatives in FY 2015.”
Reed said in 2011 that one reason he wanted Glover to depart was because she had been in the job, “too long.” Reed also said, “I wanted to pick my own team” to run the housing authority.
In addition to no change in the policies devised during Glover’s administration, the report does not indicate that AHA intends to make any notable changes regarding its development partners, according to the agency’s report to HUD.
Eight housing projects are slated to experience $33.4 million worth of “revitalization activities” in the fiscal year starting July 1.
The handful of partners for these jobs includes, in no particular order:
- Integral Group;
- Integral Development;
- Integral Partnership of Atlanta;
- Urban Realty Partners;
- H.J. Russell & Co.;
- McCormack Baron & Assoc.;
- Real Estate Strategies;
- Columbia Residential;
- Brock Built.
In light of AHA’s role in disbursing construction contracts, the housing authority is a major financial center within the mayor’s purview. The mayor appoints members to the AHA board, as the mayor does with the city’s development arm, Invest Atlanta; the mayor is not an officer of the AHA board, though the mayor does chair the board of Invest Atlanta.
The current AHA budget is $233 million. To put that in local perspective, the city’s current general fund budget is $538.6 million.
AHA also controls substantial amounts of real estate. Some of these properties have increased in value rather dramatically during the urban renaissance in which new residents were moving into the city, until the slump in jobs that came with the great recession.
One significant piece of AHA real estate in a tract on which the Falcons want to install a surface parking lot for fans heading to the new stadium.
The Falcons are so enamored of the site that they included language in the contract stating the club can opt out of the stadium deal if part of the old Herndon Homes is not made available by Dec. 31. AHA is not party to the contract.
Here’s what the AHA report to HUD says of the land the Falcons want:
- “AHA may dispose of the Herndon Homes site to the State of Georgia (or one of its agencies) or facilitate development of the site in a manner that supports the stadium project.”
The AHA report does not indicate that it will make any money off the stadium parking deal. That’s different from other property sales, as documented in this segment of the report:
- “During the first quarter of FY 2014, AHA anticipates it will consummate the sale, for fair market value, of the Roosevelt House site to Georgia Tech, as well as the sale of a 3.9-acre site, originally planned for retail development as part of the Villages of Carver, to Fulton County for the construction of a regional library. Because negotiations are ongoing, these sales are not included in this budget.”
The report is a mandatory update that AHA must submit to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The report intends to comply with HUD’s criteria for its Moving to Work Plan, which AHA has named the CATALYST Implementation Plan.
HUD created the MTW program to provide some degree of flexibility for spending federal funds. The goal was to spend money more efficiently, help residents find employment and increase housing choices for low-income families, according to HUD.
AHA entered the program in 2003 and, in 2008, signed a standard agreement to extend its participation through the 2018 fiscal year.