Turner Field neighbors to Mayor Reed: Defer any deal until after ARC-funded study is complete

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the scheduled completion date of the study.

By David Pendered

A coalition of organizations around Turner Field intend to ask Mayor Kasim Reed on Tuesday to defer any deal to redevelop the ballpark and its parking lots until after a $275,000 visioning plan is complete.

The Turner Field study area, that's to be evaluated in a $275,000 visioning plan, encompasses about 1,340 acres at and around the ballpark. Credit: ARC

The Turner Field study area, that’s to be evaluated in a $275,000 visioning plan, encompasses about 1,340 acres at and around the ballpark. Credit: ARC

In February, the Atlanta Regional Commission announced it will help fund a study of about 1,340 acres around the stadium. The $275,000 review is specifically intended to provide a roadmap for revitalization efforts after the Atlanta Braves depart following the 2016 baseball season. The plan is to be complete in mid 2016.

However, an emerging notion has it that Reed won’t give the process time to work. The scenario is unsettling to some area residents and organizations.

“We don’t want a quick-fix solution,” Summerhill resident John Colabelli said in a statement. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to restore the surrounding neighborhoods and reconnect downtown to the entire south side of Atlanta.”

Colabelli was referring to some of the redevelopment plans for Turner Field that have circulated during the past year. Reed’s been generally supportive of a proposal from Georgia State University to buy the ballpark and its parking lots. GSU has proposed building ball fields, student housing, non-student housing and retail.

The notion has it that now that Reed has prevailed in his effort to have most of Fort McPherson sold to filmmaker Tyler Perry, the mayor is likely to turn his redevelopment eye to the historic opportunity to reshape an area that’s been home to a ballpark since 1966.

Turner Field is flanked by streets lined with crepe myrtle, such as Crew Street just south of the ballfield. A planning grant from ARC is to devise a program to uplift the area as the Braves depart. File/Credit: Donita Pendered

Turner Field is flanked by streets lined with crepe myrtle, such as Crew Street just south of the ballfield. A planning grant from ARC is to devise a program to uplift the area as the Braves depart. File/Credit: Donita Pendered

The Perry/McPherson deal took a year to consummate. Reed’s term of office expires in about 2 ½ years.

In April, Reed was able to help install a political ally as executive director of the body that will oversee the sales of Turner Field. Atlanta City Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms took over leadership of the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, despite protests from Fulton County Chairman John Eaves.

Colabelli serves on the Turner Field Benefits Coaliton, which is comprised of about 30 organizations, most of them in the Turner Field area and several that have other interests:

  • American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group;
  • Rights2Life, a non-profit that serves underprivileged folks;
  • South River Watershed Alliance, which seeks to protect the waterway.

The coalition intends to stage a media event on the steps of old City Hall, the side facing Mitchell Street, Tuesday at 10 a.m. Following the comments, a group of about 50 civic leaders intends to hand deliver a letter to Reed that asks him to defer any deal until after the ARC-funded study is complete.

The ARC in February announced that it would provide Atlanta with a planning grant in the amount of $212,000 to study the Turner Field area. Atlanta had applied for the grant. The additional $63,000 for the study is to include an undisclosed sum from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which has worked in the area since 2001, and Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm.

Largest black oak in Georgia, Turner Field

The largest black oak in Georgia is in the back gardens of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home. Turner Field is in the background. File/Credit: Donita Pendered

In applying for the ARC Livable Centers Initiative Grant, the city provided the following description as its leading justification of the visioning project:

  • “The City of Atlanta and Invest Atlanta are requesting LCI funding for the Turner Field Stadium Neighborhoods LCI study, an area of approximately 1,340 acres encompassing the Summerhill, Peoplestown, Mechanicsville, Pittsburgh, and Grant Park neighborhoods.
  • “Turner Field and associated parking areas owned by the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority (AFCRA), nearby underutilized parcels and major corridors including Hank Aaron Drive, Georgia Avenue, Ralph David Abernathy Road, and Pryor Street will be the main focus of this study.
  • “The relocation of the Braves Baseball team out of Turner Field provides an opportunity to develop, through extensive community engagement, a shared vision and plan for the Turner Field Stadium Neighborhoods that will promote growth and development/redevelopment.
  • “LCI funding will be used to conduct a market study, detailed transportation plan, strategies to repurpose the $200-plus million stadium, analyze and make recommendations on housing, non-residential uses, urban design, land use, zoning and economic development. Funds will also be used to conduct community engagement and project management.
  • “The study area includes all of the Stadium Tax Allocation District (TAD). This plan will meet the requirement of the Stadium TAD legislation to develop a transportation plan and implementation strategy prior to expenditures of TAD Funding.”

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 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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