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.

As feds probe possible fraud in Atlanta’s workforce agency, Invest Atlanta steps into void

Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm, plans to hire a consultant next month to sharpen Atlanta’s workforce development strategy.

The project is moving forward as the federal Department of Labor weighs evidence of possible fraud in the federally funded Atlanta Workforce Development Agency. The agency’s budget approaches $10 million a year.

Invest Atlanta distributed a request for proposals regarding the workforce strategy on March 4, according to a schedule contained in the RFP. That was a month after the Feb. 4 release of a city audit that revealed the evidence of possible fraud and recommended Atlanta’s workforce agency be discontinued.

Cargo ship at Savannah Harbor

Metro Atlanta’s planned export strategy could sharpen strong existing trade programs

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s decision to have the city lead the creation of a regional export strategy by this summer aims to maintain metro Atlanta’s standing among the world’s competitive alpha trade centers.

The end result is to be a stronger regional economy. Ancillary benefits would include cultural and other aspects of metro life.

Georgia already has achieved measurable gains in its international status, according to an intriguing 2012 report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that hasn’t received much local attention.

Stadium deal: A briar patch with free tickets, wary partners, hardened blight

The Atlanta City Council really doesn’t want to be thrown into the briar patch when it comes to its role in the deal for a new Falcons stadium.

As council members realized Thursday, they have no choice but to find a way through the thorny thicket of a deal that they inherited this year from the Georgia Legislature. Their meeting was scheduled for two hours and it lasted five and a half.

A lot of fur went flying. Such as – Why is Invest Atlanta slated to receive free tickets to events in the new stadium when other city entities are barred from accepting such items by Atlanta’s ethics rules?

Atlanta’s role in stadium may become clearer Wednesday; council’s role suggests use of Westside TAD

The Atlanta City Council is to receive its first official briefing on the proposed deal to build a new Falcons stadium Wednesday at a meeting of its Finance Committee.

The presentation may reveal the city’s possible role in providing at least $100 million in financing for the planned stadium. Representatives of the mayor’s office, Falcons, and Georgia World Congress Center Authority, are expected to discuss topics including the authority and the hotel/motel tax.

One reason the council may be asked to vote on the stadium deal is to approve any financing that Mayor Kasim Reed may suggest be provided to develop the stadium or the surrounding area through the city’s Westside Tax Allocation District – which had a reported fund balance of $95 million in 2011. The city’s other, more likely, sources of major stadium funding are not typically overseen by the council.

Clark Atlanta’s enrollment spells trouble for finance venture for student housing by Invest Atlanta, CAU

Deteriorating conditions at Clark Atlanta University may force a company that’s comprised of Atlanta’s development arm and CAU to close, according to the latest audit of Invest Atlanta.

According to, ADA/CAU Partners, Inc. already is in technical default of bonds it issued for more than $50 million to finance the construction of student housing. The company has depleted its reserve funds and had to borrow from its insurer to make its payment last year, according to the audit of Invest Atlanta.

The Invest Atlanta audit includes this cautionary statement about the partnership between Invest Atlanta and CAU: “Should the company’s operations not improve, the company might not be able to continue as a going concern.”