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Column: Atlanta University presidents want new West End CID

By Maria Saporta
Friday, March 23, 2012

The presidents of the Atlanta University Center are throwing their full support behind a proposal to create a West End Community Improvement District.

Morehouse College President Robert Franklin invited the other AUC presidents to his home March 19 to meet with potential donors who would help pay for the effort to create a West End CID and revitalize the area.

The group would like to raise at least $38,000 by the end of the month so it can launch an effort to get signatures from the landowners of the proposed district’s 254 parcels who would be willing to tax themselves.
In order for a new CID to pass, it must be supported by more than half of the property owners and represent at least 75 percent of the district’s land value.

Charles Williams, president of the West End Merchants Coalition, has been leading the effort to create a new CID for about two years. He would love to replicate the kind of successes CIDs have had in Buckhead, Midtown and downtown to improve the safety, cleanliness and streetscapes in those communities.

If the West End community can improve the perception of safety and cleanliness, it will encourage new investment in the area, Williams said at the meeting.

“We are working collaboratively with each other,” said Beverly Daniel Tatum, president of Spelman College. “I just think our time is coming. We are in it for the long haul, and we want to see what we can do together.”

The AUC Consortium has been a longtime supporter of the effort, according to Sherry Turner, the consortium’s executive director. It has loaned one of its executive — Silvia Delamar — to be the project manager of the West End CID initiative.

At the meeting, Jerome Russell, president of Russell New Urban development firm, pledged to personally give $1,500 and to raise $10,000 for the effort. Atlanta City Councilwoman Cleta Winslow actually wrote a $1,000 check on the spot and said she would urge her colleagues to contribute.

Delamar said the plan will be to spend April collecting signatures from landowners so they can be presented to Fulton County in early May. In all, she said getting the effort off the ground is expected to cost $195,000 for the next two years.

John Maupin, president of the Morehouse School of Medicine and chair of the AUC Council of Presidents, said the center has made a “purposeful decision to be more engaged” in the community.

“Our primary agenda is the community,” Maupin said. “We just want to encourage everybody to participate. This is something we have to do.”

Grady raises $866,000

The Grady Health Foundation raised $866,000 at its second annual White Coat Grady Gala March 17 at the Georgia Aquarium — just $3,000 shy of what the event raised in 2011. Those funds go primarily toward helping the hospital meeting its operating budget.

Lisa Borders, president of the foundation, said there was a $30,000 challenge gift made on the spot, and that challenge was met within five minutes.

The dinner honored Tom Bell, chairman of Mesa Capital Partners who helped champion the effort to save Grady; Dr. Alfred Brann, a professor of pediatrics, gynecology/obstetrics and global health at Emory University; Dr. Tamara Espinoza, an emergency medicine physician at Grady Memorial Hospital; and Dr. Kenneth Wilson, a Morehouse School of Medicine physician and a former deputy clinical commander at the 344th Combat Support Hospital in Salerno, Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the foundation is still working toward its five-year $325 million capital campaign goal.

It has raised $319 million (98 percent) in three and a half years.

Girl Scouts commemorate 100 years

The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta commemorated the 100-year-old Girl Scout organization at its “Green Gala” on March 17 at 200 Peachtree.

At the gala, three “Legacy of Leadership” awards were presented to three leaders: Beatriz Perez, chief sustainability officer for The Coca-Cola Co.; Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Sam’s Club; and Laura Turner Seydel, chair of the Captain Planet Foundation.

Great day for JA

Junior Achievement of Georgia’s Business Hall of Fame event on Feb. 25 was the most successful in its history.

The event raised more than $500,000 through sponsorships, tickets and its auction. It raised almost another $100,000 if the funds raised from the “Inspire a Generation” part of the evening are included.

In an email, JA President Jack Harris said the event raised more than $100,000 more than was raised just last year, which also had set a new record. By the way, the two inductees this year were John Imlay, a software entrepreneur and investor in high-tech companies; and Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility.

Milestone for Open Hand

A virtual groundbreaking ceremony March 20 signaled another milestone for Open Hand, the nation’s largest community-based provider of home-delivered meals.

Open Hand will nearly triple its size when its $4.2 million, 17,000-square-foot expansion opens a year from now. Its facility will stretch between its current home on Ottley Drive to Armour Drive near Midtown.

On hand for the breakfast groundbreaking was Michael Edwards, who helped found the organization nearly 24 years ago.

Todd Tautfest, a Southeast managing director at Wilmington Trust who chaired the campaign, said the expansion will permit Open Hand to augment its services. Currently, Open Hand delivers more than 5,000 meals a day across 17 counties.

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.

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