Tyler Perry, center, attends a hearing where Mayor Kasim Reed, right, announced an agreement on redevelopment plans for 330 acres of the former Army base at Fort McPherson, centered around the filmmaker's vision for a movie studio on Aug. 8 in Atlanta.
Photo: DAVID TULIS / AJC SPECIAL
Photo: DAVID TULIS / AJC SPECIAL

Judge dismisses Fort McPherson lawsuit

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by a movie company challenging a proposed sale of Fort McPherson land to filmmaker Tyler Perry, ruling his court lacked “subject matter jurisdiction.”

The suit was filed in July by Ubiquitous Entertainment Studios against numerous defendants, including the civilian authority overseeing redevelopment of the Army post, the U.S. Army, Perry and Tyler Perry Studios.

Ubiquitous filed suit weeks after Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed revealed that negotiations were underway to sell most of Fort McPherson to Perry for a massive film studio.

The plantiffs alleged it had planned its own studio complex, and said the company had been in discussions about the site since 2011. Ubiquitous offered late last year to buy land from the civilian agency, known as the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority.

Ubiquitous’ offer was put on hold because authority officials allegedly said they could not negotiate until the agency acquired the post from the Army, the suit said.

The original complaint said the authority’s actions violate its by-laws, and that the authority’s talks with Perry represent a no-bid scenario that didn’t allow Ubiquitous or others a chance to respond.

In a statement, Ubiquitous’ representatives said: “After carefully reviewing the court’s order, we believe it in no way speaks to the merits of our case — only the timing of it.”

“We still contend that violations have taken place in the way in which this process has been handled to unfairly benefit Mr. Perry and bar all others from open, honest and transparent negotiations,” the statement said.

U.S. District Judge Richard W. Story, in his order Tuesday, didn’t rule on the merits of Ubiquitous’ allegation, but on whether the case was yet ripe to be heard in federal court. Story ruled that the Army hasn’t yet conveyed the property to the authority and Perry hasn’t bought it, and therefore federal court lacks jurisdiction.

That doesn’t prevent Ubiquitous from filing suit after the property is sold if the company believes its rights have been violated, according to the order.

The authority and Perry hope to close the $30 million land deal on Oct. 15. Perry is essentially providing the cash for the authority to buy the land from the Army. Under the deal, Perry would obtain about 330 acres, and the authority would retain about 144 acres for future development.

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