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David Pendered

Fate of Tyler Perry’s plans for Fort McPherson could be decided Friday

Tyler Perry contributed $2,500 to Mayor Kasim Reed.

Tyler Perry's proposal to buy Fort McPherson had the code name "Coltrane."

By David Pendered

A notice posted today indicates the proposal by filmmaker Tyler Perry to buy most of Fort McPherson could be decided as early as Friday.

Tyler Perry contributed $2,500 to Mayor Kasim Reed.

Tyler Perry

The board that oversees the fort’s conversion to civilian use today called a special meeting Friday at 11 a.m. for the purpose of: “Consideration of resolution concerning purchase and sale of real estate.”

The community is not going along quietly. Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) has called a press conference Thursday at 10 a.m. and residents have called a rally for Friday. Meantime, Perry’s lawyers responded July 28 to a lawsuit challenging his purchase of the property.

The notice of the board meeting was not posted Tuesday evening. It was emailed to some community members Wednesday morning.

This is the part of the agenda that pertains to the fort’s potential redevelopment:

  • Item 6: “Executive Session

“(1) Executive Committee Report on Acquisition – Disposition of Interest in Real Estate and Personnel Matter

  • Item 7: “Consideration of Resolution Concerning Purchase and Sale of Real Estate”

Felker Ward, who chairs the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority, said at a meeting two weeks ago that the board hoped to reach a conclusion on Perry’s offer by the end of August.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

The offer from Tyler Perry has proceeded post haste since Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed brought the deal forward in mid June. Perry’s plan would convert most of the fort to a film studio.

Perry is among the Reed’s many financial contributors in his mayoral campaigns. Perry contributed $2,500 to Reed’s reelection campaign on Dec. 17, 2012, according to Reed’s last campaign contribution report for the year of 2012.

Perry’s proposal is dramatically different from the redevelopment plan that calls for the state to help convert the property to a bio-science research center.

Gov. Nathan Deal has included state funding to renovate existing buildings on the site to meet the needs of researchers from institutions expected to do research at the site – Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, Emory University, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Army has the final say over whether to release the property for use as a studio.

Perry’s lawyers filed on July 28 a response to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta that opposes the potential deal with Perry.

Another film studio, Ubiquitous Entertainment, contends that the Fort McPherson board refused to consider its offer to build a studio at the fort and dismissed the offer in December – only to emerge a few months later with a similar proposal from Tyler Perry.

Among other points, Perry’s response to that lawsuit contends Perry was not involved in any attempt to, “thwart the business opportunity” or otherwise induce the board to, “negotiate a sole source purchase.” The response continues:

  • “Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”

Sen. Fort contends that the proposal to toss aside a plan that the community endorse, to build a bio-science research center, and instead build a film studio is proceeding too quickly and without proper community input.

“The community has been having meetings and has been engaged in planning for the redevelopment of Fort McPherson for years,” Fort said late Wednesday. “Now the rug has been pulled out from under them. The time has come for the community to know what’s really going on with this proposal.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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  1. atlman August 7, 2014 2:29 pm

    “Gov. Nathan Deal has included state funding to renovate existing buildings on the site to meet the needs of researchers from institutions expected to do research at the site – Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, Emory University, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
    1. How much funding, especially since Georgia State plans to use up to $300 million to build a new campus at the soon to be vacant Turner Field site?
    2. Is there actually any evidence that Georgia Tech, UGA, Emory and CDC even want to do this (see #1)?Report

  2. atlman August 7, 2014 2:38 pm

    I am not being a Kasim Reed apologist (I did not vote for the man) or a Tyler Perry one (have never seen one of his films, TV shows or stage plays and one of my goals is to never see one at any point ever) but I recall reading multiple times in the AJC that no one – which would include CDC and our 3 research universities – had expressed any interest in that site. And yes, Tyler Perry is a Reed contributor, but Reed has not been influenced by contributors the way that Maynard Jackson and Bill Campbell were. Plus, even if he were, Reed would have to be unimaginably (insert negative adjective here) to pass up a world class university research center that would transform that side of town (and the entire city) in favor an independent film studios that will churn out ethnic movies (and whose future is somewhat in doubt as 3 of Perry’s last 4 films have been financial disappointments with the last 2 in particular, and it appears that his TV shows based on his movies and plays on the Turner Networks have run their course with no replacements in the pipeline). 
    I know that the area’s residents and backers aspired higher than a movie studio for the BET crowd, but there isn’t much evidence that those research universities or anyone else even wanted the area.Report


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