Megachurch leader company’s secret plan for Fort Mac gets 30 more days to negotiateLooking at one of the historic buildings at Fort Mac that's part of Tyler Perry Studios – blocked off by an 8-foot-high fence in 2019. The area in front of the fence is part of MILRA-owned land (Photo by Kelly Jordan)
T.D. Jakes Real Estate Ventures has gained another 30 days to negotiate a still-secret redevelopment proposal for a still-undisclosed portion of southwest Atlanta’s former Fort McPherson site.
Jakes leads a megachurch in Dallas, Texas called The Potter’s House and runs a religious multimedia business. In March, the Fort McPherson Local Redevelopment Authority granted his real estate company a 45-day, exclusive negotiating period for the unsolicited buy-and-develop deal without issuing any request for proposals.
The LRA is overseeing the redevelopment of the former U.S. Army fort, which sprawls over hundreds of acres along Lee Street and Campbellton Road. Movie mogul Tyler Perry has already turned about 330 acres into a studio complex and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is moving offices and laboratories there. About 132 acres remain undeveloped.
At a May 20 meeting, the LRA board gave no further details of the T.D. Jakes proposal and the secret negotiations. After a lengthy executive session, the LRA approved a 30-day extension of the “exclusive negotiating period with T.D. Jakes Real Estate Ventures or an affiliate for the disposition and redevelopment of a portion of Fort McPherson.”
The original, 45-day negotiating period was approved in a March 18 meeting that was over 60 days ago. The LRA may be counting the period based on business days rather than calendar days, as May 20 was 45 business days since the March meeting, though no wording to that effect was announced at the time. Similarly, the 30-day extension was approved without any distinction between calendar and business days. An LRA spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about how the LRA is measuring the negotiating period.
Atlanta City Councilmember Joyce Sheperd heads the LRA’s Community Engagement Subcommittee. She said members of the public expressed curiosity at a recent subcommittee meeting about the T.D. Jakes proposal, including whether it would involve a “megachurch on the facility.”
LRA officials said at a March CES meeting that it is undetermined whether the T.D. Jakes proposal would include all or just some of the remaining undeveloped land, and that if the proposal falls through, the LRA likely would conduct a request-for-qualifications process to solicit other developers.
The negotiations with T.D. Jakes followed a tumultuous 2019, when a previous deal with developer Macauley Investments for a massive, mixed-use project fell apart.
In another brief update at the May 20 meeting, LRA Executive Director David Burt said the FDA may phase in construction of its labs “because they’re so expensive” and some will not be needed in the short term.