By Maria Saporta
Atlanta BeltLine Inc. has reached an agreement to buy nearly 3.5 miles of the railroad corridor that’s currently owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation for $13.5 million.
The property includes the southwest section of the BeltLine as well as part of the Southeast portion.
The BeltLine has a three-year option to acquire the property, and a one year option to buy it at that price. If it doesn’t exercise the option within 12 months, then the property will have to be reappraised, according to ABI spokesman Ethan Davidson.
Until the deal goes through, ABI also has secured a lease of the property to start preparing it for public use.
The purchase agreement will give the city of Atlanta and ABI control of 48 percent of the 22-mile circular corridor. That is significantly ahead of the BeltLine’s five-year work plan, which called for acquiring up to 37 percent of corridor by July, 2011.
ABI acquired 4.6 miles along the Northeast corridor in October, 2008. The city also owned some land along the 22-mile corridor.
As envisioned, the BeltLine is a three-pronged project that includes redevelopment of the adjoining neighborhoods, a green belt around the central city and a network of trails and eventually transit along the corridor.
In a press release, GDOT Commissioner Vance Smith said, “We are extremely pleased to participate in a project that will advance transit and mobility options in the city and the region.
As quoted in the statement, Terri Montague, ABI’s president and CEO, called the option to purchase DOT’s right-of-way a “great milestone for the BeltLine.” She said the agreement will allow ABI to “continue transit and trail planning activities” and that parts of that corridor could be open to the public within the next year.
Specifically, the sections of the BeltLine included in this transaction begins at Allen Avenue and goes to Lena Street in the Southwest quadrant, running for about $3.12 miles for a value of $10.7 million; and the section from Wylie Street to Memorial Drive in the Southeast quadrant that runs for .36 miles that was valued for $2.8 million.
Those former freight lines have been abandoned.
Now ABI is partnering with MARTA to complete the environmental impact statement by next summer and will help determine which portions of the optioned property will be used for trails and transit.