By Maria Saporta
When the Atlanta Braves decided to explore possible locations other than Turner Field, one option the team apparently did not consider one of the most obvious choices in the region.
That site is the former General Motors plant in Doraville — a 167-acre site that sits at a prime location at the nexus of I-285 near I-85 along the MARTA rail line.
Instead of picking the GM site, the Atlanta Braves announced Monday morning plans to move to a 60-acre site in Cobb County just outside I-285 west of I-75 along Circle 75 Parkway and Windy Ridge Parkway. The closest MARTA rail station is the Arts Center station in Midtown — at least 10 miles away.
Both the announcement and the location came as a surprise to most people in the Atlanta region — both in the City of Atlanta and in Cobb County.
And at least some regional observers were surprised that the choice wasn’t the GM plant.
In fact, early on, the Atlanta Falcons had considered the Doraville location when exploring possible sites for its new stadium. The football team then decided to stay downtown on the campus of the Georgia World Congress Center Authority next to the existing Georgia Dome.
Egbert Perry, CEO of the real estate development firm — the Integral Group, has entered into an agreement with General Motors that gives the Atlanta firm the option to buy the property. The two parties are working through issues related to the site’s legal, logistical and environmental complexities.
If those issues are resolved, Perry has said that Integral would buy the property and be part of a team that would redevelop the site into a multi-use development.
“I have not been in discussions with the Atlanta Braves regarding the GM site or any other site,” Perry said in a telephone interview late Monday afternoon.
Interestingly enough, Perry also is chairman of Central Atlanta Progress — the downtown business organization focused on making the heart of the city as vibrant as possible.
“I am at the core a believer that if the heart of a metro area takes enough blows, the whole metro area will suffer,” said Perry, who was instrumental in the redevelopment of Techwood Homes into Centennial Place.
Perry currently is part of the development team that has been selected to implement the Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal that is planned to be built between the Five Points MARTA station and the area around the Georgia Dome.
“It’s never good news when the core of the region takes a hit,” said Perry, who said it was not healthy for one part of the metro area to “cannibalize” another part of the region. “We are not making the kind of investment that will cause us to grow materially as a region.”
That leaves individual counties little choice other than trying to attract major projects from other counties in the region.
Unlike some observers who believed the City of Atlanta and Mayor Reed should have paid closer attention to the needs of the Braves rather than the Atlanta Falcons, Perry said he felt city officials had tried to keep the baseball team downtown.
“I think the city probably did all it could,” Perry said. “The city could not move the stadium to have it in a place that would be more accessible.”