Fort McPherson-Tyler Perry deal not in the city’s best interest

The first of two columns about the pending sale of 330 acres at Fort McPherson to Tyler Perry Studios. Part one: Why we should not sell Fort McPherson to Tyler Perry.

By Maria Saporta

Before Fort McPherson and its 488 acres of beautiful rolling hills, historic houses and officers quarters, a golf course, a post office, several office buildings and a lake ever went on the market, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed gave movie mogul Tyler Perry a private tour.

Don’t move Tyler Perry Studios to Douglas County, the mayor pleaded with Perry in early 2014. Move it to Fort McPherson.

Since then, whenever there’s been an obstacle in negotiations between Tyler Perry and the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority (MILRA), Reed has let authority members know to give Perry what he wants.

Tyler Perry Kasim Reed

Tyler Perry and Kasim Reed last August upon announcing a preliminary agreement (Photo by Maria Saporta)

That is how Atlanta has ended up with what may become known as one of the worst transactions in the city’s history. Perry is getting 330 acres for $30 million (a bargain by any measure), and he is getting the fort’s prime real estate.

In return, the city has received precious little.

What guarantees exist that Perry will maintain the historic properties on the site? What allowances are being made for the federal requirements to house the homeless?

What assurances have Tyler Perry and the city given to the surrounding neighborhoods that the fort will not continue to seal off to the community, sucking even more life away from one of the most disadvantaged areas of Atlanta?

Has the city set a height restriction on how high a wall or fence Tyler Perry can build around his 330 acres to keep people out?

And what kind of job guarantees will Tyler Perry provide, and how many will be local residents?

In truth, the answers to most of these questions are still unknown.

But if we trace back through time, we can see a pattern of how Tyler Perry operates his business. That will clue us in on what may happen at Fort McPherson.

When Tyler Perry bought the Krog Street property in Inman Park, where he shot the first 100 episodes of House of Payne, he built out most of the facility without architectural plans, much less building permits.

A city building inspector came by and shut it down. Most of the property – the Atlanta Stove Works – was sealed off with police “Do Not Cross” tape.

When asked whether they should speak to community groups about Tyler Perry’s plans, studio executives were not interested.

Perry then moved his operations to Greenbriar Mall. Once again, there was shoddy construction with all sorts of problems – studios that were too small, spaces built out of concrete that became echo chambers and acoustic nightmares.

Ft. Mac housing

Fort McPherson has strikingly beautiful historic properties such as these housing quarters (Photo: MILRA website)

People familiar with Tyler Perry said that over time, he became obsessed with security. “He walls off everything he can,” one person said, adding that the fear is that Fort Mac will become a prison within a fort.

When Mayor Reed and Tyler Perry publicly talked about their deal at a MILRA board meeting last August, Perry pledged to meet with the community. Perry has yet to meet with neighborhood leaders.

MILRA officials keep talking about the economic development boost that Tyler Perry Studios will bring to Atlanta’s southside. But all one has to do is to take a look at the area around Greenbriar Mall. It is almost impossible to identify any economic stimulus the studios have brought to the area.

And then there’s the question of Tyler Perry’s movie and television empire.

In 2014, Lionsgate Films ended its distribution agreement with Tyler Perry, a business relationship that the two had shared since 2005. When there is no major distributor for Perry’s films, it is a lot harder for him to make money.

And when it comes to his televisions shows, TBS had been Tyler Perry’s biggest ally. But now that’s over, and Tyler Perry is working with Oprah Winfrey and her network  – OWN, a small cable network where the audience is much smaller. It could be an outlet for his movies and television shows, but the revenue potential is more challenging.

Those issues led one freelance entertainment writer – Shawn James – to ask in a column last year: “Is this the End of Tyler Perry?”

Here is what is disconcerting. The city is turning over two-thirds of Fort McPherson to one owner. That is a risky play because if that business falls on hard times, it will be another setback for Fort McPherson and the whole southside.

If MILRA and Mayor Reed were wise, they would look to see how the Integral Group is redeveloping the 165-acre Doraville GM plant.

It has hired a nationally-renowned master planner to develop a strategic plan. Six acres (not 330) is currently being built out as Third Rail Studios, a facility that will eventually be 270,000 square feet for film and television production with the first phase opening by the end of this year.

Incidentally, Integral, Cousins Properties and Forest City were part of a team that had originally been selected by MILRA to do a master plan for Fort McPherson, but the team members walked away when the Authority told them they also had to pay for MILRA’s administrative costs.

So as Atlanta dives headfirst into a deal with Tyler Perry, just remember, it didn’t have to begin or end this way.

Next week’s column will explore what approach MILRA and the City of Atlanta should have taken to bring new investment to Fort McPherson.

Note to Readers: Given how determined Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is to close the Fort McPherson sale with movie mogul Tyler Perry, I thought long and hard about whether I should even write another column on this unfortunate deal. The backlash from the mayor’s office can be intense when you disagree with him. Those attacks have stifled the kind of debate and discourse every city needs to make sure all the voices are heard, that a community consensus is reached and that the best decisions are made for Atlanta’s future.

With this administration, it appears as though only one person’s opinion matters – the mayor’s. And as a lifelong resident who cares deeply about our city’s future, I believe that collaborative leadership trumps raw power.

I can not be a silent bystander and watch one of the worst deals in Atlanta’s history proceed without protest.

To be honest, I gained the courage to write these two back-to-back Maria’s Metro columns by reading Tavis Smiley’s book: “Death of a King” – especially by reading a passage from Martin Luther King Jr.’s final Sunday sermon before he was assassinated.

It was at the Washington National Cathedral on March 31, 1968 when he preached:

“Cowardice asks the question — is it safe? Expedience asks the question — is it politic? Vanity asks the question — is it popular? Conscience asks the question — is it right?”

My dear readers, please know this is my conscience speaking.

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.

78 replies
  1. Kate Lee says:

    Well written, Maria!  I wish more people would stand up to Mayor Reed on this issue especially.  Ft Mac has the propensity to be a game changer for a very large and very impoverished section of Atlanta, but he’d rather suck up to someone who won’t make any commitments to the community.  Don’t give away the jewel that is Ft. Mac.Report

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  2. Jim Lenahan says:

    Maria- kudos for speaking up about this important large facility and the limited vision being employed. reminded of the famous quote….make no small plans. this is a small plan for a large  area needing serious planning and mixed use redevelopment, not a single use with perhaps an amusement or theme park attached. Additional questions- are there performance benchmarks and time/schedule requirements? what about clawbacks for non performance? is the city or its agencies guaranteeing the financing? did the state pass on its opportunity to have a lead role in this site? JLReport

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  3. atlman says:

    This column will make sense … when its writer and anyone who agrees with it can identify one single buyer for this property. One … single … buyer. The fellow who put in a bid for a fraction of the land who has no assets, no film projects, no company and – until recently – not even a website does not count.

    Personally, I hope that Perry walks and the property just sits there, undeveloped and gathering dust. When that happens, expect any number of impassioned, righteously outraged columns by this writer about how the feds, the state or some well-heeled philanthropic concern ought to provide the sort of progressive, community-centered redevelopment for this area. Which, of course, will never happen because it never does. Abandoned areas in bad parts of town that – even at relatively cheap real estate values – would cost more to develop than anyone would ever recoup in profits stay that way precisely because of that. 

    It isn’t as if it hasn’t been tried. It has been, including in the Atlanta area, where folks have built malls and movie theatres. Even Magic Johnson and Lee May both tried the movie theatre thing. Johnson was smart enough to lend his name to the project and not invest much of his own money but May … not so much. You can have progressive dreams and social justice wishes, but at some point you run up against cold economic (and social) reality when it comes to why some areas are economically viable and others aren’t. 

    Fine. Let Perry pull out. He will build elsewhere, such as in the suburbs. And let the movie projects that would have generated jobs and tax revenue in Atlanta go to the suburban movie studios like Ant-Man (the first Atlanta major studio project that is not a sequel or hasn’t been through the developmental wringer) being shot in Fayetteville or the number of good projects that are headed to the TWO massive studios being built in Gwinnett County. That is right, despite Atlanta bringing the entertainment city to the metro area in the first place (thanks to first the Turner Networks, then the R&B/rap music industry, then black filmmakers like Perry, who had a thriving entertainment sector here long before the tax credits) it is being left behind AGAIN, with the bigger studios and better projects going to the suburbs with the city getting mostly urban-themed basic cable projects and B-movies, thanks in large parts to attitudes and people like this. But of course, when it happens AGAIN, folks like this are going to blame white flight and racism AGAIN. 

    You have locals meddling with plans to actually make money off Fort Mac. And you have Eaves trying to undermine handing Turner Field over to Georgia State. Why? Because if that deal goes through, it will displace too many of the folks that vote for people like Eaves and keep him in power. Eaves would rather fill that entire area with section 8 housing. Which, of course, is exactly what will happen with Fort Mac if this Perry deal falls through. No one else will be willing to locate down there but section 8 apartments, pawn shops, check cashing places and so forth. Well if that is what you want, then who am I to complain otherwise?Report

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  4. mnst says:

    Yes, sometimes allowing a property to sit vacant until the right owner comes along is better than giving it away to the first person willing to spend a little money on it. If GM hadn’t been willing to demand what its property was worth, we might not have gotten a development as good as Integral’s. But Kasim Reed’s #1 priority in redeveloping both Underground and Fort McPherson appears to be doing it during his term in office, so he can take credit for it. I think Underground could do better than a developer of suburban grocery stores, and I think Fort Mac can do better than Tyler Perry, but it’s up to us to express that sentiment to our councilmembers. The mayor needs their support to implement his plans.Report

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  5. Burroughston Broch says:

    The entire deal is suspect when the City provides a $13 million bridge loan to assist Tyler Perry, who has an estimated net worth of $450 million and a yearly income of $70 million. This is yet another case of City welfare for the rich and famous.Report

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  6. soandso says:

    I’ve been disgusted ever since the news broke about Reed replacing one of the McPherson votes so it went his way. South Atlanta can’t get a break, ever. The mayor definitely doesn’t have its back. Thanks Maria for blasting this.Report

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  7. soandso says:

    @atlman Atlanta, let alone the entire South, only has so many heavy rail stations. With all the good they can do for the public, especially those with lower incomes, a studio-plex is such an obvious waste.Report

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  8. Tim Langan says:

    And the mayor’s other buddy Peter Conlon gets to produce a for profit festival that is entirely too damaging and large for Piedmont Park each year (and has a two week impact to transportation in the area). The meadow in Piedmont Park has never been the same since the MusicMidtown franchise was revived in Piedmont Park. I’m not surprised about the Fort McPherson deal. And this is coming from a pro-festival person, hardly a NIMBY.Report

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  9. Lara O'Connor Hodgson says:

    Maria – the city will benefit from your conscience asking the question. Thank you for your continued dedication to journalism.Report

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  10. Clarkite says:

    Thank you for alerting Atlantans to what is clearly a bad deal.  In my view, Mr. Perry has been less than a good corporate partner for Atlanta.  I thought the deal with him was bad and your piece crystalizes my reservations.Report

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  11. brecko77 says:

    This is a bad deal.

    Not having a pay system in place for the streetcar was worse.

    Appointing Keisha Lance Bottoms, a sitting city councilmember with no management or real estate experience, to head AFCRA and oversee the the sale of the stadium site is just horrible. John Eaves shouldn’t be the only person upset over this sleazy appointment.Report

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  12. Robert Williams says:

    The technology infrastructure and communication possibilities should caterpillar Mr Perry’s investment as a mega broadcasting entity. Ft Mc has fiber optics beautiful landscapes and could possibly be eligible for solar-powered savingsReport

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  13. SaportaReport says:

    Thanks Chad, we aren’t into the car crashes unless it starts a movement to create a new traffic pattern. Thanks for sharing the page too.Report

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  14. DustinDrabot says:

    Thank you for standing up against this Maria!
    I was once on the Community Engagement Subcommittee for MILRA but resigned after it truly became a dog and pony show to approve TPS. My breaking point was the unnecessary removal of the ONE MILRA Board Member that supported the community and criticized the Perry deal. She didn’t even have the support on MILRA to stop it, nonetheless she had to be removed. I guess there was fear she may turn others so had to be removed to show the other Board Members that they should stay in step.
    It’s a horrible deal for Atlanta, I’m even more disappointed that East Point has members at the table, out of Reed’s reach, yet they have rolled right over and helped hand the base over to Perry.
    Please know, there is a glimmer of hope. On the Subcommittee I was told if a deal split the community or all parties couldn’t agree, the Army has stopped deals in the past. It was told to us in a manner that we wouldn’t want that to happen, however I can’t see how stopping this deal could be anything but good. So call the Army, write your Congressperson and put up a stink if you think Atlanta deserves better than back room, buddy-buddy, inside deals like this.
    Maria, keep the story alive!Report

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  15. Michi Meko says:

    Were there previous plans for the space or was going to sit ruins? How many people will he employ? Is there a better idea for the space beyond mixed use lofts retail?Report

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  16. Bruce Davis says:

    And.for.getting.the deal approved, Kasim.Reed gets a piece of the deal. Where I come.from.that would be corruption and misuse of Public office for.personal gain thus.defrauding the taxpayers of.Atlanta.Report

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  17. Akaziaj Hunt says:

    Excellent and thought provoking. I don’t want to see anyone acquire the land who doesn’t make housing for veterans an integral part of what I hope is a viable sustainable truly mixed use, economically and socially diverse development project.Report

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  18. Michi Meko says:

    People automatically assume the worst or corruption so I was wondering if anyone could honestly answer those questions or have better ideas for th he land and the city.Report

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  19. JWK says:

    This is a deal that should not be made, plain and simple. If the US Army can stop this deal then they need to. This has the capacity to become a viable Live-Work-Play just like Ponce City Market and Avalon. Next time anyone has questions about development on the southside and money being spent on the Eastside Beltline in the more “gentrified” areas…look no further than the current administration selling you out. There are just not enough jobs or economic impact to justify this bad deal.Report

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  20. AlanHolmes says:

    DustinDrabot We need to talk soon Dustin. I live in the West End, and have been also calling attention to this deal. I created a Facebook page. Check it out: Stop The Tyler Perry Land GrabReport

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  21. ChuckMiller2 says:

    Maria, this deal has not passed the smell test since it’s beginning. I met my wife at Ft. Mac. We were married in the Post Chapel. I lived on one side of the Parade Ground, and she the other. That was 54 years ago and I lost her last year, but I know we both would want to keep the history portion of Ft. Mac for everyone, not just a few. Thank you for your concern. Just hope the Army is paying attention.Report

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  22. HBDC says:

    Maria thank you so much for your courage, and yes I know it took courage, to write this piece.
    ATL taxpayers not only deserve,  but have a right to know what is going on with this deal and others.
    The Mayor is extremely vindictive as is well-known, but your talent and passion for serving others through your work will allow you to thrive in this hostile environment!Report

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  23. OrganicDevelopment says:

    @atlman Oh my, I so hate that I agree wit h you, but you are correct, no one else came forward to purchase this property. 
    However, I don’t think any here has mentioned how close the Atlanta beltline is to this property. I have a relative that lives in the area and every day someone is buying a property in and around this area and it is slowly turning around after being greatly affected by mortgage fraud before  the the real estate crisis. As with most areas going through transition those that aren’t close to it don’t notice. Yes, it’s slowly being gentrified but what I’ve noticed it that it’s both black and white that are moving in.  
    Anytime you have a government agency or a large developer you get something as sterile as Atlantic Station when it first opened. Compare that to the organic redevelopment of East Atlanta Grant Park and until recently Inman Park. 

    I would hope someone live Invest Atlanta would purchase it and maybe sell it in smaller portions so it looks more like a neighborhood and not a development.Report

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  24. sheba_frost says:

    There were plans for a science and technology park, but I believe that fail due to the recession. It would have been nice to see that come to fruition.Report

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  25. Maynard Eaton says:

    I applaud your “conscious raising journalism” Maria.  You among the best of a dying  breed of authentic political reporters!

    Maynard EatonReport

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  26. Suzanne From Summerhill says:

    We are closely watching in Summerhill , The Home of Fulton County Stadium, The 1996 Olympic Stadium and Turner Field. We will continue to push for a transparent RFP process, completion of the ARC Liviable Centers Initiative (LCI), the largest one awarded, and working with our elected officials on both the City Council and the Fulton County Commission. The fat lady hasn’t sung on Turner Field! NOT EVEN CLOSE!!!Report

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  27. SeanSaifaWall says:

    People can do something though! Attend the MILRA meetings which are open to the public! Demand answers! Join the STOP THE TYLER PERRY LAND GRAB group on Facebook.  We the citizens of Atlanta can take back out city!Report

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  28. BruceGarner says:

    As a native Atlantan who has lived in Atlanta for about 60 of his 66 years, I am truly fed up with the loss of our historical buildings allegedly in the name of progress.  It’s time we took action.  What is to be gained by selling our history? I would think that there is a way to save all the green space we need and still give Medea a place to make movies.Report

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  29. bothered says:

    Kudos Maria – you have been true to your profession.  It is not the first deal that the Mayor has made and probably will attempt a few others before his term ends.  He does not stand alone, a city council is always willing to go along and support deals like this without even reading to understand if it is good for the city.  What advantage does the city get?  The next Mayor will have to put up with this mess he will leave behind and the probability of $13M the citizens will have to pay.  I believe that if the Council had read the deal and gone through the committee review process, a deal like the new Falcons Stadium would not have passed muster either.Report

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  30. mariasaporta says:

    sheba_frost I will try to address several of these points in my column next week.
    Many cities have redeveloped vacant forts and army bases, and they have been strategic in their master plans and development strategies. 
    Atlanta never gave the market a chance to respond to the opportunities that existed for Fort McPherson. And it never needed to be one buyer. In fact that was the totally wrong approach. 
    You want a multi-layered, diverse community of residents, retail, offices, parks in a completely unique historic setting in Atlanta accessible by two rail transit stations located in between downtown and the airport. 
    It’s a gem. 
    The city, the state, MILRA never gave it a chance to blossom into a thriving community that could have sparked the renaissance of the southside. It would have been perfect timing for this development cycle (and the next).
    What a missed opportunity.Report

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  31. JasonSweet2 says:

    This will be good for Atlantans in that TPS employs coupled with the other film industries that will rent to use this space for filming. What is interesting is this amount of resistant was not present when there were initial strong thoughts of turning this space into a market. Aaaaannnd drop the historic building speech(because I don’t recall you stepping up then)…… nor did you voice that for the gentrified Reynoldstown residence, gentrified Kirkwood residents, gentrified Cabagetown residents, gentrified Castleberry residents, gentrified East Atlanta residents. You had no problem for companies like JLW(no longer in business from what I can see) or John Wieland receiving tax subsidies and grant”like” money to build in these areas to gentrify. BUT for those that own in those area or live, you enjoy them new homes, new condos don’t you? For those that live or utilize these neighborhood’s new restaurants, new businesses you enjoy them don’t you?? Doesn’t your money support the business in these areas and isn’t this money good for the people that own those business and the people that work for them? Seems to me a double standard… ONLY because this has something not to do with the place but instead WHO is purchasing it. And this individual, like him or not has been a VERY successful entrepreneur who has provided employment (that has also expanded) for a good number of Atlantans.Report

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  32. johnradams says:

    Three points:
    1. It has been stated elsewhere that Mayor Reed gets some cut of the deal.  If this is in fact true, then that pretty much tells you all you need to know: it is a self-serving and inherently corrupt deal.

    2. Several people have asserted that Tyler Perry is “the only one coming forward to do a deal”.  This makes little sense to me, as it seems like a phony premise to assume that the best and highest use would be achieved by a single entity.  This is a large parcel (over 300 acres), so this seems more like a situation where a Master Plan should be created, and then let developers of various sizes sign up for various pieces.

    3. 330 acres for roughly $100K/acre seems like a steal.  Which is why this deal smells crooked.
    Thank you, Maria, for speaking out.  Let’s hope that this deal gets re-worked to make sense for the taxpayers, and not just to enrich Mayor Reed and puff up his resume.Report

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  33. woosnews says:

    Thank you, Maria Saporta, for your honest and observant reporting on this and so many issues in Atlanta. With illumination of a deal this huge and consequential, we at least have a better chance to make it right.Report

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  34. JWK says:

    In business the “Mayor’s cut” is called a finders fee or a brokerage fee. Just like the Fulton Tax Commissioner gets a cut off the top. Not sure if that happens anywhere else but Atlanta.Report

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  35. JWK says:

    mariasaporta sheba_frost I attended a few MILRA meetings and was copied on the various email announcements. I always got the feeling that MILRA was a job works program that never developed the proper marketing plan for the Fort. They seemed content to keep their administrative functionality going on as long as possible.Report

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  36. OrganicDevelopment says:

    johnradams “It has been stated”  Hmmm, so doth thou maketh true? Not a fan of Kasim lately, but I think he’s a smart politician and wouldn’t put his arsh on the line for something like this. Kasim may be a lot of things, but a crook I don’t think so. His buddy Gov. Deal does a lot worse and no one calls him a crook. What is the one difference between the two? Color?Report

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  37. johnradams says:

    OrganicDevelopment johnradams OrganicDevelopment, love your screen name — we need lots more of it.  As far as Reed getting a cut of the deal, I do not know, which is why I qualified my remark.  I have read in several places that supposedly he gets something, but I do not know if this is true.  As far as comparing to Gov Deal, I don’t know.

    While we’re all throwing stones, allow me to point out that Maynard Jackson sent many tens of millions of dollars to his law firm for repeatedly re-financing Atlanta bonds.  Yes, it is wise and prudent to re-fi (with bonds, the term is “re-issue”) periodically.  But not at every possible drop in rates, because the fees for the re-fi are consumed by the savings.  This is precisely why homeowners re-fi periodically and “strategically” — it is foolish to re-fi at every tiny drop in rates, because most of the savings in interest are consumed by the re-fi process.  Of course, if you are the one doing all legal work for the re-fi, it’s a great cash machine.  Hey, let’s name an airport after him to honor the loss in interest savings which were basically diverted to his law firm.Report

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  38. JWK says:

    OrganicDevelopment johnradams OD…nice. I have been called OCD at times. “No one calls Gov. Deal a crook”??? Let me send you my daily emails from Better Georgia. According to them, he has taken permanent residence between Hitler and Satan.Report

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  39. jamalA says:

    It is amazing that JWH with a history of obnoxious suburban housing is not only duplicating it intown, but qualifing for subsides. I’m watching his O4W project on Ralph McGill from me friends house on at the intersection of East Ave. One of the first to start renovating a decade ago.Report

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  40. jamalA says:

    You never do or are you doing it now include in the discussion all the work the neighborhood asso. put into the Fort McPherson community report or reference ‘actual members’ involved they really did their homework and I witnessed it at a few meetups at presentations. Where is Georgia Standup in this conversation. I have no issues with Tyler Perry, but the idea was always to open FM back up to the neighborhood not another wall.
    georgiatechfinalreport.pdfReport

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  41. cc333 says:

    THIS IS SO WELL WRITTEN. Thank you SO much for shedding light on this dark deal… Kasim Reed has proven time and again that the only person he cares about is Kasim Reed. History will prove that this Mayor did nothing for this City while in office, but give away our assets and money to his friends.Report

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  42. cc333 says:

    JasonSweet2 NIce try sweet heart, but the details of this deal have been hidden from the public. If you are cool with that, then shame on you.Report

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  43. jamalA says:

    You don’t need to stop it only bring changes so it meets the mission of opening it back up into the neighborhood serving as a catalyst put forth in the community plan. Some of historic paternalism in these comments is sicking. There is a possibility with the other tech clusters meddling to give ATL more of a presence Tyler Perry studios could progress into something on a level of DreamWorks, but the critics here never envision anyone who doesn’t look like them doing it. Ask these people who Will Packer is.. sit back and watch the blank faces.Report

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  44. Burroughston Broch says:

    Let’s put politics aside and look at this as a business deal.

    The deal is FUBAR; look it up on Wikipedia if you are not familiar with the term.
    There are at least four layers of government involved: Federal, State, City, and MPLRA. Each layer has its own agenda and puts handcuffs on potential bidders. Each contributes to the FUBAR.
    Every handcuff translates into added cost for the bidder and makes the project less desirable. The bidders know they can’t sell a condo for a higher price than the going rate just because they paid too much for the property.
    These handcuffs and the political pressure by the City are the reason we are where we are today, almost 6 years after Fort McPherson was closed.
    If you want Fort McPherson put to best and highest use, get ALL of the governments out of the picture and let professional property sales people like CBRE, JLL, etc. handle the deal.
    And you cannot convince me the highest and best use is movie studios.Report

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  45. maegentry says:

    ChuckMiller2 Sorry to tell you, but the Army is not “paying attention.” The U.S. government decided to unload Fort Mac. No one cares about the history. The property will be sold to whoever wants to buy it. It appears that’s Tyler Perry. Anyone else who gives a care can step up, but I don’t see any other takers.Report

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  46. maegentry says:

    JWK No one wants to “live, work and play” in the neighborhood that borders Fort Mac, except the relatively poor black folk who live nearby. Let’s not delude ourselves. Atlantans are generally divided by race, with the line of demarcation being I-20. White folks can complain about Tyler Perry getting his hand on this property, but unless they’re willing to put up enough cash to buy the land, there’s not much they can do besides bash the mayor.Report

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  47. maegentry says:

    You can hardly blame Kasim Reed for a “for profit festival” that damages Piedmont Park and impacts area traffic. Peter Conlon has been producing Music Midtown for decades, many years before Kasim Reed was elected. Just wondering how much of this commentary is race based. Just wondering…Report

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  48. maegentry says:

    @atlman This is the most cogent argument I’ve read about why Atlanta should support the Tyler Perry bid for Fort Mac. Most of the commenters who oppose the deal have suggested no alternatives. They’re just bad-mouthing Kasim Reed and suggesting there’s something nefarious with TP’s interest in the Fort Mac property. As for those flag-wavers who want this preserved as some sort of historical military base, I’d venture a guess that they would visit once a year — if that — and then only on the way to the airport. Give me a break!Report

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  49. JWK says:

    maegentry JWK Live-Work-Play inside the development that could be Fort Mac. There are 2 MARTA stations bordering the property and the Beltline is relatively close. Proper development at Fort Mac could drive additional development up to the Beltline and possibly revitalize a portion of the neighborhood. Maybe the Black citizens who form a certain core of the “power elite” in Atlanta can step up and take matters into their own hands, call this deal bad and stop waiting for someone else to do the heavy lifting.Report

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  50. brecko77 says:

    jamalA 
    Will Packer is a successful movie producer. 
    What does he have to do determining the highest and best use of a public asset?Report

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  51. atlman says:

    Burroughston Broch 
    Oh please. Your history is well known. You want politics taken out of the deal because you don’t like the politicians – Kasim Reed and people that look like him – having more power than you. Let’s see you demand that politicians should stay out of the Braves relocation to Cobb County. Or all of the boondoggles that have been going on in Henry and Gwinnett County the past few years. But since those politicians look like you, that is fine. It is only when they are in Atlanta and do not that we hear all of these accusations of corruption and people getting paid under the table.
    You cannot be convinced that a movie studio is the highest and best use of this property? Fine. Tell me what is. It has been 6 years and no one has named one yet. You think that if the government were to get out of the way and the folks that look like you would be able to invest in condos down there? Excuse me, but as someone who used to live and work and shop near there before I moved downtown … where are all the other condos? There are PLENTY of areas in that wide open mostly barren and bereft of economic or other activity part of town that is not being meddled with by governments and black politicians that anyone can buy and develop. They haven’t. No condos there. Why? Because A) the locals who live there cannot afford them and B) the people who can afford them prefer other areas of the city. 
    That is the problem. Everyone talks about “what could be done” with Fort Mac, but there is a lack of investors willing to step up and make it happen. Why? Because there is no money in it. There are more profitable places to build in Atlanta, all over the metro area, all over the south. The folks who live down there spent years trying to attract biotech firms to locate there. Guess what? They all went to the suburbs, which is where the people with the education and training to actually work in that industry live. Yes, I know that folks with the skills to work in that industry live in the city proper, but they live downtown, near Georgia Tech and Georgia State, or in Midtown. Or in North Atlanta. 
    But I say let Perry and Reed walk away. Let Ms. Saporta and everyone else bandy about dreams and wishes for this facility. And then sit and watch absolutely nothing happen. Especially when Reed – the most pro-business mayor Atlanta has had in 30 years – leaves office and gets replaced with another Shirley Franklin, Bill Campbell, Maynard Jackson or Andrew Young. You know, the same crew who let the infrastructure rot and crumble, who came up with boondoggles like Fanplex and a dozen failed schemes to save Underground Atlanta, allowed Freaknik to paralyze the city for years before they FINALLY did something about it and who turned the Olympics into a swap meet. The people who presided over decades of rising crime rates, the spiraling out of control situation with Atlanta schools, MARTA losing millions a  year, and educated residents – including blacks and Hispanics who wanted decent schools and safe neighborhoods – abandoned the city in droves, and when the city’s pensions was driving our bond rating down to Detroit’s level. 

    Don’t worry Ms. Saporta and the other liberals. You will have another mayor like that to drive the city back down soon. All this horrible, evil stuff like major corporations relocating from other cities – and the suburbs – into Atlanta will once again be gone. No more great headlines like Porsche’s headquarters opening and fixing up the old abandoned GM plant anymore. All that will be gone. That day is coming, and I am hoping that Reed gets as much accomplished before it does. So cut bait from this Perry deal and concentrate on the Turner Field to Georgia State and Underground Atlanta deals. Let the parts of the city that are willing to move forward do so now, and let the folks in south Atlanta … well remain south Atlanta.

    By the way … filming of the third Captain America movie is starting. No, it is not filming in Atlanta proper because the studio facilities in the city aren’t as good as the ones in the suburbs. If this deal falls through, this will continue.Report

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  52. atlman says:

    Suzanne From Summerhill 
    Yes! Yes! One of the people doing their level best to keep that area of the city poor and blighted and dependent on government assistance! Welfare over education!Report

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  53. Burroughston Broch says:

    @atlman Burroughston Broch You’re correct about one thing only. I dislike all politicians and I dislike their sycophants like you even more.
    The City of Atlanta owns two 10,000+ acre parcels of land, one purchased in 1972 and the other in 1975. Both were purchased as a second airport site and both have been fallow since the City bought them 40+ years ago. I don’t remember you complaining about them. Yet you cry long and loud about a 474 acre parcel that has been fallow for less than 5 years. Please explain the difference in detail.Report

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  54. mnst says:

    Burroughston Broch You’re really no different from any politician’s sycophant. You push a political agenda religiously on every news source in Atlanta that offers a comment form.Report

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  55. mnst says:

    Burroughston Broch Haha, oh right. When you do it, it’s out of the purity of your own heart. When other people do it, it’s for unbridled political ambition.

    Let me guess; you’re also a libertarian?Report

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  56. Burroughston Broch says:

    mnst Burroughston Broch  I promote my agenda for my own reasons, and have never pretended to be pure. Political ambition is not one of my reasons.
    I don’t know why sycophants do what they do, but political advantage and personal financial gain are two potential reasons.
    You guessed wrong.Report

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  57. Chad Carlson says:

    Thank you for reminding everyone how the mayor and the governor shut down public input and sold out this formerly publically owned facility to their friend. And let us not forget the announcement that was made immediately AFTER this sell out—the $600 K road the tax payers will have to pay for that will be parallel to an existing road at the fort because the existing road will be behind Tyler Perry’s wall. Is it not enough that the mayor sold the 330 acres for a fraction of its worth? Make Perry pay for his own darn road. Follow the money.Report

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