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Fort Mac development authority chairman to stay on for possible FDA lab vote

Some neighbors are wondering what will happen to the communities around Fort McPherson.

Gov. Brian Kemp has asked the chairman of Fort McPherson’s development authority to stay in the job a little longer. The move could help salvage a deal to relocate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lab from Midtown to the former Army post.

Cassius Butts resigned in a letter to Kemp effective Aug. 1, but was asked by the governor to continue his voluntary service on the McPherson Implementing Redevelopment Authority – also known as the Fort Mac LRA — through the end of Monday's scheduled meeting, according to a statement by the authority.

Butts’ resignation, combined with that of a second director, leaves the board without enough voting members to approve agency business. The board resignations follow that of the agency’s executive director, Brian Hooker. All of those departures leave the authority in limbo at a time when it has a lot of urgent business pending.

The board has failed to act at its last two meetings on an announced deal to transform a former command building into the new home of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Atlanta offices and laboratory. The move would bring with it 350 highly paid jobs, and net the cash-strapped authority $17 million.

An agenda for Monday’s meeting has not been set, but is expected to include the agreement with developer of the project, Easterly Government Properties.

“I’m happy to fulfill the commitment as requested by the governor and to the mission of the Fort Mac LRA board and staff and the city of Atlanta,” Butts said in a statement.

Fort Mac LRA Chairman Cassius Butts at a board meeting Thursday, July 11, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Fort Mac LRA Chairman Cassius Butts at a board meeting Thursday, July 11, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Fort Mac LRA controls about 145 acres at Fort McPherson. The LRA took control of the 488-acre post in 2015 and that year sold about 330 acres of the property to filmmaker Tyler Perry for $30 million.

The agency has been at loggerheads with its handpicked master developer Stephen Macauley.

The governor is expected to appoint a chair to replace Butts at a later date.