COVID-19 may make Fort Mac, Tyler Perry Studios short-term landlords, of a sort
A scene from Fort McPherson. Credit: Kelly Jordan
By Maggie Lee
A marquee Atlanta film studio is trying to keep the cameras rolling — but that might require setting up a bit of housing, which just got an assist by the board that oversees the shuttered Fort McPherson.
The Fort McPherson Implementing Redevelopment Authority is authorized under zoning law to allow housing, said its interim executive director, David Burt. But Tyler Perry Studios is not, he said.
So the public agency is going to temporarily take control, on paper, of some land inside the studio fence where the studio may set up housing for their staff.
“If they can do housing, then they can quarantine their proven staff, test them, quarantine them, and work in a very safe manner,” said Burt. “But it lets them get back to work.”
Burt characterized it as helping their partner across the fence. The studio will pay the public agency $2,000 a month for up to 12 months plus a $3,000 fee.
Larry Dingle, an attorney representing Tyler Perry Studios, said in a statement that “they are considering a multitude of options for re-engagement in their business pursuits.” Housing staff and production crews on campus is just one of those options.
The Fort Mac board unanimously approved the short-term deal on Tuesday.
That was the board’s only action during a roughly hour-long meeting, most of which was spent in an executive session closed to the public.
Most of the former fort is already owned by Tyler Perry Studios, but several big questions are still pending about the roughly 135 acres that are unsold. Last year, the board bypassed an offer from TPS of reportedly $30 million for the rest of the site. Instead the board approved a deal it had already announced to sell one large building for the use of the federal Environmental Protection Administration for $17 million. The board also parted ways with Macauley Investments, a would-be re-developer that spent years planning a mix of uses for the site. Then in February, Perry said he’s still interested in 20 more acres of the old fort for building an entertainment district. And MILRA is without a permanent executive director after the departure last year of its last leader, Brian Hooker.