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Tyler Perry: ‘Absolutely no interest’ in buying more Fort Mac land

Maria Saporta
Tyler Perry, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Felker Ward, former chair of the Fort Mac LRA board, in August, 2014 when an agreement was made to sell 330 acres of Fort McPherson for Tyler Perry Studios (Photo by Maria Saporta)

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta film mogul Tyler Perry is not interested in owning any more land at the former Fort McPherson than the 330 acres he currently has.

Perry offered those comments in a telephone interview Monday evening after the board of Fort Mac Local Redevelopment Authority voted to approve the sale of the former U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM) building to Easterly Government Properties (NYSE: DEA) for $17 million.

Tyler Perry, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Felker Ward, former chair of the Fort Mac LRA board, in August, 2014 when an agreement was made to sell 330 acres of Fort McPherson for Tyler Perry Studios (Photo by Maria Saporta)

Washington, D.C.-based Easterly is buying the building to lease it to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which will be moving its research labs from Midtown to Fort Mac in the building that houses about 600,000 square feet. The FDA is expected to have about 350 researchers and staff working out of the building.

The Fort Mac LRA board voted 10-to-1 (with one abstention) in favor of the Easterly deal. That basically killed the possibility of Perry being able to step in and buy the building as part of Tyler Perry Studios.

“I have absolutely no interest in purchasing or developing any more of the Fort McPherson property outside of what I already own,” said Perry, who initiated the phone call after the Fort Mac LRA vote.

In texts, obtained through an open records request earlier this year, there were several references that Perry was interested in the FORSCOM building and the entire 144 acres that he did not own.

Macauley Investments, who was selected to be the master developer for that property two years ago, has been  working on a master plan for the property. But the Fort Mac LRA board has yet to vote on executing a development agreement with Macauley.

Fort Mac LRA board votes to approve the sale of the FORSCOM building to Easterly (Photo by Maria Saporta)

In the texts between Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Brian Hooker, executive director of the Fort Mac LRA at the time, there were numerous references of conversations with representatives from Tyler Perry Studios about Perry’s interest in exercising his right of first offer to buy the property.

But when he was asked Monday if he had changed his mind, Perry said no.

“It’s not a change of heart,” Perry said. “But putting 350 people in that building that was built to support thousands of people, I wonder how you could support a future development.”

Darrell Crate, chairman of Easterly Government Properties, said Monday that the FDA and the U.S. government could possibly add more people to the FORSCOM building in the future.

The headquarters of Tyler Perry Studios is located in the “Dream Building” on the Fort Mac property. About 600 people work in that building, which is about half the size of the FORSCOM building.

“I wish them well,” Perry said in the phone call. “I hope that whatever they bring into these labs is safe, that there’s transparency and that it benefits the community.”

During the Fort Mac LRA meeting Monday, Mayor Bottoms and attorney Alvin Kendall met with board members during executive session, in a last minute attempt to delay or stop the sale of the FORSCOM building to Easterly.

It is not known if or when the Fort Mac LRA board will vote to move ahead with Macauley Investments to develop the remaining 144 acres.

Attorney Alvin Kendall and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms at the Fort Mac LRA meeting Monday afternoon (Photo by Maria Saporta)

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Maria Saporta
Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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