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David Pendered

Atlanta City Council to seek Braves advice on fixing Ted area, pass Falcons community benefits deal

By David Pendered

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct a councilmember’s name.

Never let it be said that the Atlanta City Council doesn’t have a sense of hope and humor.

Turner Field

Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell hopes a task force can promote development near Turner Field. File/Credit: Maria Saporta

The council will ask the Atlanta Braves to serve on a task force to recommend ways to spiff up the Turner Field area. The Braves intend to leave the Ted for Cobb County in the 2017 season.

In addition, the council expects to adopt Monday the community benefits deal regarding the future Falcons stadium, which has riled some civic leaders, and a slate of recommendations on how to bolster Atlanta’s central business district – where the office vacancy rate is among the region’s highest.

Of the three measures, the community benefits deal has received the most public attention. It also has a fiscal impact: Atlanta can’t provide the $200 million it promised to help build the new Falcons stadium until a deal is approved.

Atlanta city officials and neighborhood advocates hope a community benefits deal that's to be approved Monday by the Atlanta City Council address blight and other woes near the future Falcons stadium. Credit: Kristian Weatherspoon via marketplace.org

Atlanta city officials and neighborhood advocates hope a community benefits deal that’s to be approved Monday by the Atlanta City Council address blight and other woes near the future Falcons stadium. Credit: Kristian Weatherspoon via marketplace.org

The negotiations have served as a political stage for Mayor Kasim Reed, council President Ceasar Mitchell, and Councilperson Michael Julian Bond. Given that their reelection to current office on Nov. 5 was all but guaranteed, each had latitude on the committee to stretch as they sought to solidify a political base and reach out to potential supporters for future aspirations.

The task force on the Turner Field area offers another opportunity for political positions, governance and even leadership. The task is clear-cut: “Identify recommendations for commercial and residential development, public safety, and transportation opportunities in the neighborhoods in the vicinity of Turner Field.”

Mitchell recommended the task force be created and it’s to meet for up to six months with the possibility of extension for an additional six months, according to the legislation.

The 20 members who will be asked to serve on the group that’s to be chaired by Councilmember Carla Smith, whose district includes Turner Field, include:

  • Reed;
  • Mitchell;
  • Braves or their designee;
  • State Rep. Margaret Kaiser, a Democrat mentioned as a possible mayoral candidate in 2017;
  • Sen. Nan Orrock, a Democrat who’s served since 1987 in the House or Senate.
  • A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress, or a designee;
  • Georgia State University President Mark Becker, or a designee.

The task force proposal was signed by 10 councilmembers, including at-large member Aaron Watson, whose name was misspelled as “Arron” on perhaps the last piece of legislation he will sponsor this session. Watson was defeated by Mary Norwood.

Turning to the community benefits deal, the outcome rarely seemed in question.

The version now pending council approval provides a basic structure for spending $15 million, in Atlanta taxpayer dollars, on brick-and-mortar projects in Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill and a portion of Marietta Street. It also provides guidelines for the Blank Family Foundation to spend an additional $15 million in human-service programs in the same stadium neighborhoods.

One huge wish that wasn’t fulfilled was for the deal to be an iron-clad agreement. In other cities, community benefits agreements are signed by community leaders and the developer, which in this case would be the Falcons or possibly the state of Georgia. This format provides accountability for the outcomes. Atlanta chose not to pursue that structure.

One civic leader went so far as to call for specific claw-back provisions if the money wasn’t spent as promised, but Deborah Scott, of Georgia Stand Up, was not able to get that language inserted during negotiations that ended last week.

Finally, the slate of improvements proposed for the central business district are the result of a task force created by the council in January.

The recommendations were not available on the city’s website. The legislation that created the task force called on it to create a master plan that would capitalize on, “several major projects planned for Downtown, including:

  • “The National Civil Rights Museum;
  • “College Hall of Fame;
  • “Multi Modal Passenger Terminal (MMPT);
  • “New Falcons Stadium;
  • “Turner Field Redevelopment.”


David Pendered

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.


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  1. Reinvent_ED December 2, 2013 12:07 pm

    Why should the Braves participate on this task force if they’re leaving for Cobb County?  They should respectfully decline the invitation.  Their focus is now on Cobb County.Report

  2. jabberwalk December 2, 2013 8:44 pm

    What is interesting is that all these individuals will be a part of a task force for an area that they have neglected for almost a decade.  It is really interesting to me that all the properties in the area which are blighted and/or the lack of community engagement hasn’t been identified as the reason for this problem.  Shockingly no one who has done work or live in the area are going to be considered. More of the same problems. I hope they can identify programs to actually change the nature of the underprivileged in our community.  I guess we will leave them to it.Report

  3. baruman68 December 3, 2013 12:52 pm

    No “middle class” family is looking to live here. Its not adjacent to anything but blight. The obvious answer lies a couple blocks north in GSU. Its an opportunity to address several needs and build something akin to Florida State’s College Town development around Doak-Campbell Stadium. The same could be built around a re-configured for football Turner Field along with Panthersville moved downtown and dorms , apartments and small retail and restaurants. It would be similar to how GSU rescued the Fairlie-Poplar District near Woodruff Park with a classroom building, business school and restaurants and cafes. The creation of a task force is an admission that no developer will touch this.Report

  4. health_impact December 4, 2013 11:35 am

    Actually there are a lot of middle class families living here now, who are completely frustrated by the blight caused by Turner Field and its ocean of parking. Actually, the ballpark itself is very attractive, but the failure of the Braves and the City of Atlanta to make any efforts to bring any sort of meaningful business and retail here is the problem. The area should be filled with hotels and restaurants around the stadium, and the northern end should attract office buildings and student housing to capitalize on proximity to GSU and the government sector. Lower height apartments or townhomes could ease the transition into the single-family areas….Report

  5. baruman68 December 4, 2013 12:16 pm

    Short of dropping a massive Atlantic Station type development in the area, I dont see how the Mayor’s vision of 100 acres of middle class homes becomes a reality. Atlantic Station was largely a success due to being adjacent to neighborhoods people wanted to hang out in (Buckhead, Midtown West, Collier Hills, Midtown). Glenwood Park on a smaller scale has had similar success because it is Inman Park, Candler Park, Decatur and Midtown adjacent. I have lived in the area for 15 years and have watched the Ted area languish to the point where even fast food restaurants will not open there.  The truth is that most people that developers target for buying real estate will not want to be adjacent to any of the areas surrounding the Ted. It will be interesting to see if this gets done right or if as with most things a square peg is forced into a round hole and we end up with another UndergroundReport


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