Fort Gillem deal marching forward


Fort Gillem deal marching forward

Recent Southside economic development projects

Clayton County, hard-hit by the recession, has had a several jobs announcements in the last year. Some highlights:

Porsche North America: Broke ground in mid-2013 on North American Headquarters on Clayton-Fulton County border adjacent to Atlanta airport. Estimated jobs: 400, including 100 new hires. Completion: End of 2014.

H.H. Gregg: Building distribution center in Ellenwood. Completion: End of 2014.

Dupps Co./RSS: Renovating industrial plant south of the airport. Estimated jobs: 20.

Briggs Equipment: Building regional sales/operations center for materials handling. Estimated jobs: 130.

Kaiser Permanente: Expanding medical complex in Morrow.

Chime Solutions: Opening communications office at Southlake Mall. Estimated jobs: more than 1,100.

The authority trying to redevelop Fort Gillem in Clayton County is expected to formally take control of about half of the sprawling former Army post this week.

The transfer was scheduled for Tuesday, but Fred Bryant, who heads the Forest Park/Fort Gillem Implementation Local Redevelopment Authority, said it was delayed by “glitches” in the closing process.

The closing could be accompanied by announcement of an anchor tenant in the logistics complex the authority hopes to develop on the site, Bryant said.

He declined to name the company targeted in the recruitment effort, code named “Project Jasper.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has previously identified it as grocery giant Kroger.

“Project Jasper” is expected to employ 750 to 1,000 people, officials have said.

The land deal closing is the first phase in a transfer of more than 1,150 acres, with the rest going into civilian hands later this year after a long-delayed environmental cleanup is completed. After the post’s 2011 closure, the Army kept more than 250 acres of the 1,400-acre site and a military forensic lab.

Fort Gillem for years has been both the source of high hopes and angst for metro Atlanta’s Southside. The post largely closed after serving for 70 years as a logistics hub for the Army and a major economic engine for Clayton. Its closure was mandated under budget cuts that came from a military restructuring last decade.

Activities at Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson near downtown Atlanta were wound down and the bases mothballed amid the worst recession in generations. That recession hit Clayton particularly hard, and the county has had a higher jobless rate than the metro average for years.

McPherson’s redevelopment effort also remains in the early stages, with no firm tenants as yet.

Roger Tutterow, a Mercer University economist, said a logistics center is “a nice strategic play” at Gillem given the post’s proximity to the airport and freeways.

“The Clayton economy took a variety of hits in the last decade,” Tutterow said. “It’s good to see some wins come back.”

Chime Solutions, an outsourced human resources company and staffing firm that also operates call centers, last week said it plans to open its newest communications office inside the former J.C. Penney at Southlake Mall. The company plans to hire more than 1,120 people.

Fort Gillem redevelopers envision a 7 million-square-foot logistics and manufacturing complex with 3,000 workers within the next five to 10 years.

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