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Gaines Hal

Atlanta – save Gaines Hall – a building too important to die

It’s been more than two years since historic Gaines Hall caught on fire – and little has been done to save one of the oldest and most significant buildings in Atlanta.

Gaines Hall continues to deteriorate in front of our eyes – a victim of the natural elements as well as inadequate fire insurance coverage. The building also has been in the middle of a hotly contested legal battle between the  City of Atlanta’s Invest Atlanta and Clark Atlanta University over who owns land that used to belong to Morris Brown College.

Reed inauguration 2014

Potential buyer of Atlanta Civic Center: Deep pockets, experience in metro Atlanta

The Houston-based company negotiating to buy the Atlanta Civic Center property has a market cap of $4.05 billion, a regional office in Dunwoody, and has been developing shopping centers and other commercial real estate since 1948 – all of which indicates the company has the wherewithal to create a game-changing development on the northern end of downtown Atlanta.

Taking another crack at Atlanta’s food desert, this time targeting chronic disease

Georgia State University and Morehouse School of Medicine have received a $400,000 federal grant to promote healthier food and physical activity in black neighborhoods in southwest Atlanta, where rates of diabetes and cardiovascular disease are especially high.

In addition, Atlanta is poised to address the city’s food deserts through a $50,000 grant to a program that’s not related to the GSU/Morehouse partnership, a spokesperson for Invest Atlanta said Thursday.

Atlanta funds innovative dormitory that’s to help entrepreneurs succeed

A dormitory that’s designed to give a leg up to budding entrepreneurs is to be built at Technology Square, in Midtown, with financial aid from Atlanta’s development arm.

Invest Atlanta has agreed to fund up to $70 million in construction costs of a 230-unit building dubbed, “Tech Square Tower (the Entrepreneur Dorm)”. Only three similar dorms exist in the nation, according to Invest Atlanta – at Stanford, Columbia, and New York universities, with one more to open in 2015 at University of Florida.

The concept is to provide turn-key housing for students who hope to develop some sort of innovative idea, as well as for entrepreneurs who have an office at Tech Square. Residents are to mingle and brainstorm and have access to an on-site mentor, according to the presentation to the board of Invest Atlanta.

Who’s tending the chicken coop? Atlanta activists question sale of public assets to private investors

The question of who’s tending the public chicken coop is arising as Atlanta moves with all deliberate speed to promote private development around the Falcons stadium and several publicly owned properties in or near downtown Atlanta – including Fort McPherson, the shuttered Army base.

The general public isn’t alone in raising questions. Atlanta City Councilmember Joyce Sheperd made this comment about the potential sale of most of Fort McPherson to filmmaker Tyler Perry: “I’m a little concerned about the fact that I first heard it on the news.”

Atlanta City Council wants monthly accountability reports on business incentives offered by Invest Atlanta

The Atlanta City Council is trying to get a handle on the incentives offered by Invest Atlanta during negotiations over business relocations.

The measure comes as the council wrestles with the increasing independence exercised by the leaders of the city’s development arm, which is chaired by the mayor. On Wednesday, the council’s Finance Committee approved a resolution that calls on the city’s CFO to submit monthly reports to the council on the incentives Invest Atlanta orders paid to businesses. The full council is to vote on the plan July 15.

Committee Chair Felicia Moore shelved a sterner measure she’d proposed that called for a non-binding council vote before Invest Atlanta could offer such incentives. Moore, who introduced both papers, said the stricter proposal was unlikely to win enough votes to pass.

Atlanta to combat food deserts with portion of $30 million federal grant

Atlanta’s food deserts are one of the problems that Atlanta’s development officials intend to address with a portion of a $30 million federal grant the city has received.

An incredible swath of Atlanta, generally located south of Buckhead, meets the definition a food desert, according to a mapping tool of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The definition boils down to access to food – distance from food stores and access to transportation.

Atlanta’s food desert program is to be one of the first such efforts in the country to be assisted through the New Markets Tax Credit program, which was started in 1994 by the Treasury Department to help fight blight and create jobs.