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Andrew Young: Mayor Reed and city commit to Mount Vernon that it will help church continue its ministry

By Maria Saporta

Mount Vernon Baptist Church received the support of two Atlanta mayors Tuesday night as it weighs its option on whether to make way for a new Falcons stadium.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young met with Rev. Rodney K. Turner and members of his congregation to talk about the status of negotiations with the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.

“We are all committed to continuing the ministry of this church in this community,” Young said after the meeting. “The mayor (Reed) made a commitment to work with them to continue their ministry at an improved site and circumstances.”

Andrew Young before entering Mount Vernon meeting

Andrew Young before entering Mount Vernon meeting (Photos: Maria Saporta)

The Atlanta Falcons, the state and the city would need to acquire two historically-black churches as well as several other pieces of property in order to locate a new football stadium on the preferred site south of the Georgia Dome.

Talks between Mount Vernon Baptist Church and GWCCA have broken off because both sides are so far apart. GWCCA’s latest and final offer was $6.2 million based on appraisals of the property. Mount Vernon has countered with a $20.3 million proposal so it would be able to rebuild the church and expand its ministry.

Rev. Turner had called a “family meeting” for Tuesday night to bring everyone up to date on the status of negotiations. But Turner and members of congregation had little to say to members of the press after the meeting ended.

Andrew Young speaks to news folks after leaving the Mount Vernon meeting

Andrew Young speaks to news folks after leaving the Mount Vernon meeting

“Keep us in your prayers,” Rev. Turner said as he got into his truck when leaving the church. He did hold up a thumbs up sign.

Mayor Reed also was able to slip into his SUV without talking to the press, speeding away about half-way through the meeting. When reached by phone shortly after, Reed was asked how the meeting went.

“It was good,” said Reed, who did not elaborate, saying he was on his way to another function.

Young, however, said that Reed set the tone for the meeting, which he described as “very positive.”

Asked whether they were able to discuss the various offers that had been on the table, Young said: “We talked ministry. Money is irrelevant.”

Young did come out to meet with reporters and provided brief comments. He was accompanied by Seana Turner, Rev. Turner’s daughter.

Andrew Young stands with Seana Turner, Rev. Rodney Turner's daughter

Andrew Young stands with Seana Turner, Rev. Rodney Turner’s daughter

Reed, who handled negotiations with the second church — Friendship Baptist Church, announced last week that an agreement had been reached. Friendship had tentatively agreed to be acquired for $19.5 million.

The congregation still has to approve the deal, and that vote — once planned for Aug. 18 — has been delayed for at least a couple of weeks, according to Lloyd Hawk, chairman of Friendship’s board of trustees.

Because land on the south site was not acquired by the Aug. 1 deadline, the Atlanta Falcons and GWCC have started exploring the feasibility of building the stadium on a site that is about a half-mile north at the corner of Northside Drive and Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard.

The official word from the Falcons and the GWCC is that the south site is not feasible and that they are now focused on the north site.

Members of Mtount Vernon congregation leave Tuesday night's meeting

Members of Mtount Vernon congregation leave Tuesday night’s meeting

Reed, however, has urged the Falcons and the state to stick with the south site because of its significant advantages. Specifically, the south site is sandwiched between two MARTA stations and it is adjacent to the main campus of the convention center.

Also, if the stadium were to be located on the south site, the project could be designed to be part of future downtown development plans as well as a way to boost the economic prospects of the Vine City and nearby communities.

“A $1 billion stadium will have the same impact as the aquarium did on downtown,” Young said, adding that one option for Mount Vernon would be to locate near the proposed Mims Park in Vine City.

Attending the Mount Vernon meeting with Young and Reed was Rodney Mims Cook, who has been behind the proposal to develop Mims Park.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. English Ave August 14, 2013 8:29 am

    Why do you keep stating the south site is close to the GWCC? It isnt, the north site is by far.Report

    1. stupidjerkface August 14, 2013 10:18 am

      @English Ave There’s no entrance to the GWCC on Ivan Allen. Visitors would have to walk out of the stadium, down North Ave., cross Ivan Allen, and down to the back entrance of building C. On the other hand, the south site is like 500 feet away from GWCC’s front door.Report

      1. Jacob August 14, 2013 10:41 pm

        stupidjerkface So we’re going to tear down two historic black churches to make the walk to the GWCC’s door 700 feet shorter? Atlanta really is insane and Americans incredibly lazy.Report

        1. stupidjerkface August 14, 2013 10:48 pm

          @Jacob All recent events serve as evidence that if the south site happens at all, the two churches will be relocated at great expense to the Falcons organization.Report

        2. Jacob August 15, 2013 3:39 pm

          stupidjerkface You mean, a minor expense to the $940,000,000 slush fund of public money the Falcons will be trickling out to others when they have absolutely no choice. No matter how they route the money, it’s still $940,000,000 in public money. But that’s beside the point of your post about distance. Why is the city in such a hurry to tear down two historic black churches to save 500 feet of walking between an unneeded stadium and the GWCC? It’s such a weak argument for the south site. Might as well go with one of the tired old tales about moving the team to LA or the economy collapsing without a football team.Report

  2. Andy McBurney August 14, 2013 9:33 pm


  3. Charlotte NC August 15, 2013 9:12 pm

    Why would a church want to hold The Atlanta Falcon hostage? It seems to me the church would welcome all the jobs a new stadium would generate. The new jobs would benefit the community. And the church would be able build a new church with the nice up grades win win all round.Report

  4. Anonymous September 3, 2013 10:49 am

    This entire process is a joke.  The members of Mt. Vernon are not getting the full story and we are constantly being lied to by somebody.  The Mayor said that Mt. Vernon agreed to $15.5 million but when there was a family meeting, the Chairman of the Trustee board and the Pastor said they never said that.  So how can anyone get a fair shake without all the information?!Report


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