State Sen. Vincent Fort and residents of the Fort McPherson area are calling for more transparency about a proposed plan to sell a large portion of the former Army post to filmmaker Tyler Perry.
The residents said Thursday they’d worked for years on a plan to remake the closed fort into a life science and technology park. They say they were cut out of the process since talks between Perry and civilian authorities started earlier this year.
“Is this deal a good deal or not?” said Fort, D-Atlanta, flanked by several community members. “No one can make that assessment if the deal is done in secrecy and without input from the community.”
The future of Fort McPherson and Perry’s plans are expected to be front and center Friday at a meeting of the civilian authority tasked with redeveloping the complex.
Fort said if a finalized deal with Perry is announced at the meeting: “I would call it nothing less than a betrayal of the public trust.”
The state senator said he’s sending a letter to U.S. Army Secretary John McHugh about his concerns. In the letter, he’s calling for the military to urge the civilian authority to implement the redevelopment plans already in place.
The McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority, or MILRA, is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. Friday on the base. The agenda notes that the board will consider a resolution regarding the “purchase and sale of real estate.”
The AJC first reported in June that Perry, the city of Atlanta and MILRA were in serious negotiations, and that Perry plans to establish a movie studio there.
It is not clear exactly how much land Perry might be negotiating to buy, as the number has been in flux. But the city of Atlanta and the Department of Veterans Affairs are expected to retain control of some land on the property.
Fort McPherson closed in 2011, and MILRA has worked with residents for several years to redevelop the site. A master plan born out of those talks calls for a science and technology park and a mix of shops, residences and office space.
Mayor Kasim Reed has previously said Perry could receive more than 300 acres, and that the filmmaker will pay about $33 million, or about $3 million more than MILRA’s purchase price of the entire post from the Army.
Separately, another group that proposed building a studio on about 80 acres at Fort McPherson recently sued Perry, MILRA and other government agencies to challenge a possible sale. Perry and MILRA have both moved to have the court dismiss the case.
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