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Atlanta BeltLine has option to buy 3.5 miles from GDOT

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.

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. PRBuck July 10, 2009 8:37 am

    So ABI paid $13 million for 3.5 acres of track from GDOT when, three years ago, they paid $65 million for 4.5 acres to Wayne Mason. I realize the Mason property was in a more desirable corridor but still, this is a huge difference. What gives? I am also curious as to why Maria mentioned the Mason sale, but did not reflect the price in her column. No one will convince me that the city didn’t get ripped off in the Mason deal, wherein Mason made a $41 million profit for holding the land less than two years. ABI should have known his plans in advance and anticipated the neighborhood opposition at the outset.Report

    1. mariasaporta July 12, 2009 12:04 pm

      First of all, we’re talking miles and not acres. Not sure one can compare the two deals, and not just because of the location. One would need to know how much acreage was involved in both deals. Also, acquiring the Masson property was a pivotal move for the city to get control of the BeltLine project by being able to get a fourth of it in one transaction. Did Mason make a boatload of money? Of course. Should the city have done the initial deal with Norfolk Southern? Absolutely. But at the time, the city didn’t have the money to buy the property (pre-TAD) and Mason had the relationship with Norfolk Southern.Report

  2. Michael July 10, 2009 11:31 am

    This really is a no brainer situation. The city should jump all over this great opportunity.Report


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