City of Atlanta hiring Charleston planner to be new commissioner of planning-community development

By Maria Saporta

Note to Readers: I have just received a call from Anne Torres, the head of communications for the City of Atlanta. She assured me that I have not been removed from the city’s media contact list, and that she would never do something like that against any journalist. I apologize for jumping to any conclusions, and I am relieved to know the City of Atlanta will continue to send its notices to me. Anne Torres, who also said she had sent me an email on Thursday that I never received, explained that the city has been having some issues with its emailing system. This note is just to clear the air. My goal here is to build an open communication with the city, and I will do all I can to make it a good relationship. Maria Saporta

The City of Atlanta reportedly has hired a new commissioner of planning and community development — Tim Keane, who has held a similar position in Charleston, S.C.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley announced Thursday that Keane, the city’s director of planning, preservation and sustainability, would be leaving his post on June 26 to come to Atlanta to work for Mayor Kasim Reed.

“I wouldn’t be leaving Charleston for just anything,” Keane told the Charleston Post and Courier. “This is a big job in a big city, and it’s a real opportunity because Atlanta is growing so fast. And it has the resources so it can compete among the biggest cities, and that interests me.”

Tim Keane

Tim Keane

According to the Post and Courier, Keane is 51 years old. Both he and his department have been on the forefront of several controversial issues including a moratorium new bars and restaurants that serve alcohol past midnight to restructuring the city’s Board of Architectural Review.

Keane, who also has been an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston, has been in his current job since December, 2009. Before then, he was president of Kean & Co. – an urban design and planning consulting firm.

Keane & Co. had been his foray into the private sector and a five-year sabbatical from public service. Before that, he had served as director of planning and neighborhoods for the City of Charleston from January 1999 to December 2004.

Riley, who has served as Charleston’s mayor for nearly 40 years, is not seeking re-election in November. So the South Carolina city will be electing a new leader for the first time in four decades. Riley has repeatedly been described as one of the best mayors in the country.

Charleston, S.C.

Charleston, S.C. is known for appreciating historic preservation, a high quality of life, and promoting a pedestrian-friendly downtown (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Riley told the Charleston Business Journal that he is happy Keane has found another professional challenge. Keane is the first member of his cabinet to leave his administration this year.

“Tim is a talented and innovative planner with bold and thoughtful approaches to city planning. He is a tireless worker and leader,” Riley said in a statement published by the Journal. “He has made extraordinary positive impacts on Charleston and its neighborhoods. We will greatly miss having him here at the city of Charleston and wish him the best as he shares his talent with Atlanta.”

He promised to replace Keane’s position as quickly as possible.

“It is extremely difficult to leave Charleston. This is a very special place that presents so many exhilarating challenges in city planning,” Keane said in a statement also published by the Journal. “I hope I’m smart enough to take what I have learned from Charleston and Mayor (Joe) Riley and help Atlanta and Mayor (Kasim) Reed.”

Atlanta has been without a commissioner of planning and community development since September 2014 when Commissioner James Shelby abruptly resigned after serving in that position since 2008. Prior to that, Shelby had served as both acting and deputy commissioner of the department, which oversees about 200 employees in the the bureaus of buildings, code compliance and housing and planning.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 28, 2015

News Release

Mayor Kasim Reed Appoints Tim Keane as Commissioner of the Department of Planning and Community Development

Keane brings over twenty years of urban design and planning experience to position

ATLANTA –Mayor Kasim Reed today announced his appointment of Tim Keane as Commissioner for the Department of Planning and Community Development. Keane previously served as the Director of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability for the City of Charleston, S.C. He is expected to begin his role with the city on July 1, 2015.

Prior to Mayor Reed’s announcement, Keane was responsible urban planning, design review, historic preservation and zoning for the City of Charleston. He also led Charleston’s sustainability initiatives and managed code enforcement and neighborhood beautification. In addition, his office also led the city’s tourism management planning efforts. Under his leadership, the city created a Century Five Comprehensive Plan—a ten-to-fifteen year guide for growth and development.

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Tim Keane as the Commissioner of our Department of Planning and Community Development,” said Mayor Reed. “Tim brings the right expertise to help the Department the meet the long-term goals of my administration. I am confident that his experience, vision and exceptional commitment to public service will help our city continue to grow in ways that will benefit all our citizens.”

Tim previously served as the Director of Planning for the Town of Davidson, N.C., where he led all planning and regulatory operations. He also started a private design firm where he worked with private developers on notable projects including Mixson in North Charleston—a community of green and energy efficient homes.

“I am honored to join Mayor Kasim Reed and his Administration as the Commissioner of Planning and Community Development,” said Tim Keane. “I look forward to working with citizens to ensure everything that is planned, designed and built makes the city a better place to live and work.”

The Atlanta City Council must confirm Keane before his appointment is final.

Keane received his graduate degree in Architecture from the University of North Carolina—Charlotte. He was a Knight Fellow in Community Building at the University of Miami School of Architecture in 2001.

###

For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed

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.

5 replies
  1. Joe Seconder says:

    As an FYI, I don’t recall seeing any bike lanes in Charleston. Was there a year ago. Saw newly-paved downtown streets with very wide lanes that could have been easily restriped to offer a safer place for persons to ride a bike.Report

    Reply
  2. Lance Blair says:

    Wait – aren’t the new developers of Underground Atlanta (WRS) from Charleston too? That’s a bit cozy…how very convenient.Report

    Reply
  3. letmesaythis says:

    I say this in support of Maria Saporta, but I guess Kasim did not like the Fort McPherson article you wrote…so they discretly took you off the news feed.
    The article on Fort McPherson is amazing, please keep exposing the truth.Report

    Reply
  4. SaportaReport says:

    Note to Readers: I have just received a call from Anne Torres, the head of communications for the City of Atlanta. She assured me that I have not been removed from the city’s media contact list, and that she would never do something like that against any journalist. I apologize for jumping to any conclusions, and I am relieved to know the City of Atlanta will continue to send its notices to me. Anne Torres, who also said she had sent me an email on Thursday that I never received, explained that the city has been having some issues with its emailing system. This note is just to clear the air. My goal here is to build an open communication with the city, and I will do all I can to make it a good relationship. Maria SaportaReport

    Reply

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