Retiring state property chief had immense influence over metro Atlanta for 15 years
By David Pendered
Steve Stancil may not have a household name. But when he steps down Feb. 1 as State Property Officer, he will have affected metro Atlanta since 2003 on issues ranging from mass transit, to development policies, to future development along the Atlanta BeltLine and the future film studio/mixed use development that’s to be built in Atlanta at the old Pullman Yard.
Stancil is retiring as Georgia’s State Property Officer. It’s not the sort of position that garners the spotlight, other than at times such as the unveiling of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue at the state Capitol, land that is overseen by the Georgia Building Authority.
That said, Stancil is credited with managing more than $4 billion in state construction funded through bonds, and the sale of more than $100 million through the sale of state-owned property that had been deemed surplus. The new Judicial Complex, which House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) had proposed naming after former Gov. Nathan Deal, will be Stancil’s crowning construction achievement.
To take the state property’s job in 2008, Stancil stepped down as executive director of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. Stancil was GRTA’s second executive director, taking over in 2003 from an interim who had led the agency following the departure GRTA’s founding executive director, Catherine Ross, now at Georgia Tech.
Stancil was appointed to the GRTA job by his running mate on the 2002 ticket – Sonny Perdue. Stancil was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, losing by a 1-percent margin to incumbent Democratic Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor. Perdue defeated incumbent Demoratic Gov. Roy Barnes by a 5 percent margin.
Before launching his statewide campaign, Stancil had served in the state House from 1988 to 2001, representing a portion of Cherokee County at a time of rapid growth. Perdue cited Stancil’s legislative achievements when Perdue announced Stancil as new head of GRTA:
- “He authored the first legislation to provide for the transfer of development rights to protect needed greenspace in fast-growing areas, and he also wrote the law creating the Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority. As a member of the State Planning and Community Affairs Committee, Stancil took part in drafting the Planning Act of 1989, Georgia’s first-ever statewide planning legislation.”
Since Stancil’s appointment in 2008, the role of State Property Officer has had him serving as executive director of the Georgia Building Authority and State Properties Commission, and as the director of the Georgia Financing and Investment Commission, Construction Division.
In this role, Stancil had a hand in overseeing the sale of the old Atlanta Farmers Market to the BeltLine. The state had put the property up for sale in 2012. No one submitted a bid for the 16.4 acre site and the State Properties Commission withdrew the property, later awarding it and another parcel to the BeltLine.
Now the BeltLine is seeking proposals from the private sector to purchase and develop the 20-acre site as a mixed use project with outcomes that include restaurants and shops facing the Westside Trail, reserving up to 40 percent of residential units for workforce housing, and a plan to hire local residents to fill construction and permanent jobs. Proposals are due Feb. 1.
The agency also is the one that selected Atomic Entertainment to redevelop Pullman Yard.
At GRTA, Stancil had the rare-at-the-time opportunity to lead an agency whose creating he had opposed as a state lawmaker. As a creation of the Barnes administration, GRTA had few advocates among Republicans.
While at GRTA, Stancil oversaw the formation of regulations concerning proposed development. Projects large enough to impact an area greater than their immediate neighborhood were deemed “developments of regional impact” and subjected to heightened scrutiny in terms of their effect on regional supplies of water, wastewater, solid waste, and added vehicular traffic. GRTA had a role in reviewing the DRIs.
After taking the GRTA job, Stancil said he came to see the value of mass transit in the metro region. According to a story published in 2007 in georgiatrend.com:
- “Admittedly, I didn’t think about transit a lot. The biggest surprise was seeing how well utilized MARTA is, carrying half a million people a day. It got me to thinking, God forbid something happens to MARTA and it shuts down and pushes everyone into an automobile. We couldn’t handle that traffic.”
Later GOP-led efforts resulted in GRTA being turned into the management agency for the region’s bus system. The oversight provisions for the DRI reviews were dramatically altered.