Beltline scraps sale of land for big project at Piedmont Park

Plans for a mixed-use development at the busy corner of 10th Street and Monroe Drive at Piedmont Park appear to be dead after two city of Atlanta agencies halted the process of selling public land needed for the project.

On Wednesday, Atlanta Beltline CEO Brian McGowan sent a letter to developer Jeff Fuqua informing him that the agency and Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm, decided to terminate the deal. The letter cited the agencies’ rights under a request for proposals process.

The move comes about seven months after Invest Atlanta's board gave a preliminary OK to sell the nearly acre-and-a-half parcel for $2.5 million for a mix of apartments, a grocery store, food hall and a hotel.

Fuqua’s plan called for about 350 apartments, of which about 30 percent were to be reserved as affordable units. Though the affordability component drew praise from many in the high-priced neighborhood, others said the density and proposed 750 parking spaces were inappropriate for land bordering the Beltline.

Critics said the project would attract more cars to an intersection already congested with vehicle and pedestrian traffic and cyclists.

A statement from the Beltline offered little explanation for the move.

“We have determined that the process itself is not yielding a result that we feel is appropriate for that site, and we plan to re-evaluate at a later date,” the statement read.

In a statement of his own, Fuqua said he “was shocked and stunned” by the decision and left open the possibility of legal action.

“After an 18-month long (request for proposals) process, we were selected based on the vision, merit and the affordable housing component of the proposal,” he said. “We have been a great partner with the Beltline and have already devoted significant resources to the project.

“This is especially confounding because we committed to 30 percent affordable housing, which the City said was a top priority,” the statement read. “I am currently evaluating our legal recourse as it relates to Invest Atlanta, the Beltline and other responsible parties.”

Julian Bene, an Invest Atlanta board member who was one of two votes against the project in December, said he was relieved the sale process ended. He said he hopes a new sales process will begin that will not allow for such a car-centric plan.

“I’m hoping we will proceed in a more thoughtful fashion,” he said.