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Atlanta’s former ‘gold rush’ land to be purchased for Rodney Mims Cook Park

Vine City gateway sign

Atlanta intends to acquire six tracts of land for the future Rodney Mims Cook Sr. Park in Historic Vine City. File/Credit: David Pendered

By David Pendered

A portion of the Rodney Mims Cook Sr. Park is to be built on land where speculators once drove prices to eye-popping levels – as much as $105,000 for a vacant tract measuring just 7,350 square feet. That’s $14.29 a square foot. In Vine City.

Vine City gateway sign

Atlanta intends to acquire six tracts of land for the future Rodney Mims Cook Sr. Park in Historic Vine City. File/Credit: David Pendered

Atlanta is preparing to buy six tracts of land that will form the western border of the future park. This is the park that neighbors worked so diligently to ensure would honor the history of civil rights leaders – including Cook, who established a progressive record in the Georgia Legislature as a member of the elected body that preceded the Atlanta City Council, the Board of Aldermen.

The Atlanta City Council is beginning the process of authorizing Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration to acquire six parcels of land on Elm Street. Elm Street runs parallel to Northside Drive. The council is slated to adopt the paperwork in April.

The city is about to tread land once owned by get-rich-quick dreamers. Consider the history of just two of the six tracts. Both are now owned by William Murphy, of Atlanta, according to Fulton County tax records.

Fulton County has valued the tract at 283 Elm St. at $9,600. It measure 7,350 square feet – 50 feet facing Elm Street and the lot is 143 feet deep.

The vacant lot sold for $105,000 on Aug. 10, 2001. Marcia Yaqoub purchased the land from Capitol Group Property. Yaqoub held the tract until she lost it to foreclosure on Feb 28, 2006. Murphy purchased it for $30,000, tax records show.

Mims Park, trees

The future Rodney Cook, Sr. Park is intended to attract quality development to Vine City. File/Credit: David Pendered

The tract at 273 Elm St. is valued at $7,400. It’s pedigree is more textured than 283 Elm St.

The 273 Elm St. tract sold for $100,000 on Jan. 4, 2001. Taurus Lynum bought the tract from Capital Group Property Management, tax records show. Lynum lost the tract to foreclosure on Oct. 1, 2002. The Bank of New York Trust purchased the property for an unrecorded price.

Five months later, on March 4, 2003 the trust sold the land for $33,000 to Waymon Strickland. Tax records observe, “unusual financing.” Five months later, on Aug. 22, 2003, Strickland sold the land for $100,000. The buyers, Emily and Charles Boyd, lost it to foreclosure on Dec. 7, 2004.

The record of sales prices stops at this point.

Indymac Bank FSB picked up the foreclosure and flipped it the same day, Dec. 7, 2004 to Federal National Mortgage. Murphy bought the property June 9, 2005 from Fannie Mae.

Real estate speculators aren’t the only groups who were active in this section of the Vine City neighborhood. Good-deed doers also were active.

Mims Park, map

The area shaded in blue is the site of the planned Rodney Mims Cook Sr. Park. The Georgia Dome is located at the bottom right side of the map. File/Credit: wdanielanderson.wordpress.com

The Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan owns one tract of the future park. The CBC was formed in 1983 to discuss homelessness. Its mission has grown over the years and it now includes more than 100,000 members from more than 125 religious organizations, according to a report on georgiaencyclopedia.org.

The CBC purchased the lot for an unrecorded price on Dec. 24, 1999, according to tax records. The county valued the tract at $6,600. It measures 4,000 square feet – 40 feet along Elm Street and running 100 feet to the rear of the property.

The CBC bought the lot from an entity named Housing People Economically. HOPE formed in Georgia in 1988 as a non-profit corporation. It was dissolved voluntarily in October 2001, according to records kept by the Georgia Secretary of State.

HOPE was led by C-suite officers of Georgia Pacific. The chair was James E. Bostic, Jr., a former GP senior vice president; Danny Huff served as HOPE’s CFO and as GP’s EVP of finance and CFO; and Kenneth F. Khoury served as HOPE’s secretary and as GP’s VP, secretary and deputy general counsel, according to records maintained by Fulton County, Georgia Secretary of State, guidestar.org and bloomberg.com.

Atlanta officials evidently expect all six landowners are willing sellers. The legislation does not authorize condemnation proceedings.


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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