City of South Fulton takes steps to spur $2 billion in development over 20 years
By David Pendered
The City of South Fulton has taken tangible steps to promote a projected $2 billion in growth, over 20 years, in two sections of the city that face different types of challenges – the rural west side and the commercial east side of town.
These steps are intended to provide financial muscle to the aspirations identified in the city’s Economic Development Strategic Plan, approved this year. The twin goals of attracting and guiding growth were at the center of the decision by voters to incorporate their area in May 2017.
Two tax allocation districts were established Oct. 27 by the city council of the City of South Fulton. Their formation follows through on public support for tax-funded development, as expressed by city residents in 2019 in their vote to approve a referendum to establish TADs.
Three hurdles remain: The state Department of Revenue has to set the base property value; Fulton County’s school board and county commissioners will be asked to concur with the plan.
The TADs are to be administered by the South Fulton Downtown Development Authority. The authority, established in 2019, will determine the incentives provided to future projects and collect fees on the incentives – as opposed to handing TAD oversight and fees to an entity such as the Development Authority of Fulton County.
Here’s a snapshot of the two TADs:
East Side TAD
- Serves the Red Oak area along Roosevelt Highway and Old National Highway. Starting in the 1970s, when I-285 was still fairly new, the corridors became a destination for housing and shopping south of Atlanta. Time has not been kind to the area;
- The East Side TAD has a potential property value of $1.24 billion in 20 years, up from about $223 million in current property values. About 2,000 acres are included in the TAD.
West Side TAD
- Connects Camp Creek Parkway and Fulton Industrial Boulevard, and extends to the Chattahoochee River. The city’s long-range plans call for this area to provide a town center with a center for municipal services, plus a riverfront district that could be anchored by a planned mixed use development that’s in the planning stages;
- The West Side TAD has a potential property value of $1.43 billion in 20 years, up from a current property value of about $159 million. About 4,700 acres are included in the TAD.
The Bleakly Advisory Group provided the economic analysis in the South Fulton Tax Allocation District (TAD) Redevelopment Plan Summary.
Christopher Pike, the city’s director of economic development, said Monday the long-term goal is to create destinations within the city, places where residents and visitors will want to work, meet and spend time. This is especially true in the East Side TAD.
“The redevelopment will focus on quality of life,” Pike said. “You’ll see a focus on specialty retail, restaurants, places were people can come together and create that sense of live-work-play that we don’t have right now. We want to make sure we are attracting our citizens, and other citizens.
An additional, major benefit is the expansion of the city’s tax base, Pike said.
“We want to diversify our tax revenue so we aren’t balancing the budget on the backs of citizens,” Pike said. “Diversification of revenue streams will better serve our citizens.”
TADs have become the go-to funding source in metro Atlanta to destinations. Atlantic Station and the Atlanta BeltLine are poster children for TAD funding.
TADs are tax tools intended to promote growth. The idea is to identify a blighted area that has potential for turn-around, lure developers to the area, and use the taxes collected on the growth to build roads, sidewalks, parks and public infrastructure that will attract ever more development.