Fort McPherson: Varying views on how it should be redeveloped after military exits

By David Pendered

Competing plans for redeveloping Fort McPherson are starting to take the stage.

One plan that will be presented Wednesday carries extra heft. It was crafted by Georgia Tech students who were overseen by Michael Dobbins, a former Atlanta planning commissioner and current professor of practice at Tech.

“The big policy issue presented by Fort McPherson is whether this 488 acre site, which is roughly four times of the size of Atlantic Station, conceives of itself as interacting with the rest of city or remaining an enclave,” Dobbins said. “All of the planning so far treats it as an enclave.”

Portions of some of the plans are likely to be incorporated by the City Council when it approves a zoning plan for Fort McPherson later this year.

The site will be completely controlled by the city once the military vacates the fort on Sept. 15. The military installation now has no zoning restrictions.

Dobbins is to present at 1 p.m. a proposal that’s been dubbed “the Tech plan.” The audience invited to the meeting at the Atlanta Development Authority is to include city planning officials, City Council members, and board members of the Fort McPherson Local Redevelopment Implementing Authority.

The timing of Dobbins’ formal presentation means the Tech plan will be on the table during the planned June 28 work shop on the city’s long-range development plan, known as the Comprehensive Development Plan.

The Fort McPherson authority was created by the state to oversee the conversion of the base to civilian uses. Its redevelopment plan was presented to the city last month.

The idea among City Council members is to creating zoning categories for the land now called Fort McPherson and include them in the long-range plan.

Here are some of the advocates who have plans for Fort McPherson that are in discussion:

  • The state authority has crafted the official redevelopment plan;
  • Georgia Tech students have created a plan they think integrates the property more efficiently into the surrounding neighborhoods;
  • Morehouse College has received two grants to study the potential creation of formal links between the college and a planned bioscience research center at the old fort;
  • Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) has called for more attention to be paid to surrounding residents, who want to see specific plans for creating jobs that can be filled by nearby residents.

Jack Sprott, the executive director of the Fort McPherson authority, said the authority’s plan is just that – the authority’s plan.

Sprott said he expects the council to consider all proposals as it rezones the fort’s property.

Atlanta Councilwoman Cleta Winslow took issue with Dobbins’ statement about the authority’s plan resulting in an enclave at the fort. She said no one intends for Fort McPherson to remain an island.

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. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

3 replies
  1. a transit fan says:

    This large parcel is an equally large opportunity for the city to designate land-use that is most appropriate to the existing transit capacity.Report

    Reply
  2. Karen Babino, Realtor - BHGRE MetroBrokers says:

    The redevelopment of Ft. McPherson is a development of regional impact. It’s an exciting opportunity for all, so why shouldn’t this project and it’s public resources be planned and developed to serve as a catalyst for the redevelopment of the entire community? As a resident of the Venetian Hills Community (that is a short walk to the back gate of Ft, Mac,), the synergy is there for this redevelopment project to be used as an example for future military base closings, green economic development, and a premier global destination.Report

    Reply

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