By David Pendered
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has appointed Dan Halpern, a politically influential Atlanta businessman whom Reed previously placed on the board of the Atlanta Housing Authority, to represent Atlanta on the board of the Airport West Community Improvement District.
This CID was formed earlier this year to promote a region west of the airport. The CID’s board approved in June an annual budget of $1.6 million to fund various planned improvements.
Halpern’s appointment is on track to be confirmed by the Atlanta City Council in January. Atlanta’s city code requires the mayor’s appointments to be affirmed by a simple majority of councilmembers.
The Atlanta Regional Commission helped initiate the Airport West CID in an effort to promote economic development around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. While the ARC did not prescribe the formation of a CID, it did convene a meeting of the area’s business and civic leaders in the summer of 2012.
The purpose was to bring together stakeholders who could help jump start development in an area that is not reflective of its biggest neighbor – the world’s busiest passenger airport. The CID was one result of this effort. The Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance is another result.
Reed informed the council of his decision to appoint Halpern in a letter dated Nov. 20. The council’s Community Development/Human Resources Committee is slated to consider Halpern’s appointment at its meeting Wednesday.
Reed wrote that he intends to appoint Halpern to a four-year term on the CID board, to begin on the date of council confirmation. The letter states:
- “Based on his experience and commitment to the community, I am confident that M Halpern will serve the City of Atlanta and the Airport West Community Improvement District with integrity and dedication. A copy of his qualifications is attached for your review.”
The attachment consists of a one-page biography of Halpern, printed on his company’s stationery. The page has been redacted, with a section of the letter blotted out in the area where an address and contact information typically is provided.
Halpern is a co-founder and president/CEO of Jackmont Hospitality. Halpern joined former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson and Brooke Jackson Edmond to form the company in 1994. Valerie Richardson Jackson, who was married to the late mayor, now serves as a Jackmont principal and chairman of the board.
Halpern’s biographical letter states that company revenues now exceed $100 million a year. The company owns and operates restaurants around the country and provides food services for schools, colleges and universities, healthcare facilities, and airports, according to the company’s website.
The company won a major food concession at Atlanta’s airport in 2012.
Halpern is active in Democratic Party politics. He serves on the Georgia Democratic Party, which elected Halpern to serve on the Democratic National Committee. The DNC promotes Democratic candidates by raising money and coordinating strategy.
Halpern served as co-chair of Reed’s 2009 campaign for mayor. Reed won the post in a run-off election.
As a board member of the Atlanta Housing Authority, Halpern helped negotiate the departure of Renee Glover, AHA’s former CEO. AHA’s board appointed an interim CEO to replace Glover in September 2013 and the AHA website does not indicate the board has made the position permanent.
In an unrelated action, the council’s CDHR Committee on Wednesday also is slated to consider Reed’s appointment of Amy Phuong to serve as Atlanta’s parks commissioner. Phuong has served as interim commissioner since May, following the departure of George Dusenbury.