T.D. Jakes-backed redevelopment of Fort McPherson site moves forward

Ground lease approved for religious leader and film producer’s real estate company to build mixed-use project at former Army post
Aerial of the front gate at Fort McPherson shot from the east looking west on Aug. 24, 2005. AJC FILE PHOTO.

Aerial of the front gate at Fort McPherson shot from the east looking west on Aug. 24, 2005. AJC FILE PHOTO.

The redevelopment of a portion of Fort McPherson by the Bishop T.D. Jakes is one step closer to reality.

The government authority overseeing the redevelopment of the former Army post in southwest Atlanta voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the lease of 94 acres of land to The Fort Mac Village, a subset of T.D. Jakes Real Estate Ventures. With the lease, the entirety of the 145-acre area left to be developed at the former Army post is accounted for, the Fort Mac Local Redevelopment Authority said.

Jakes, whose interest in redeveloping the Fort McPherson land emerged in 2021, is the founder and pastor of The Potter’s House Church in Dallas, Texas. He has also produced movies in partnership with the Lifetime network.

In March, Urbanize reported Jakes firm filed paperwork with the city for a project that would include more than 900 apartments, 200 townhomes, 181 detached houses, a charter school, a senior living facility and commercial and office space.

More details about the project are expected early next year. In 2021, when Jakes first expressed interest in developing the site, he said the project would include affordable and workforce housing.

In a statement, Marcus Dawson, managing partner Jakes’ real estate arm, said the group was thankful to the authority board “for believing in our vision and allowing us to serve the great city of Atlanta.”

Cassius Butts, the chairman of the Fort Mac LRA board, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is “really excited that this project is coming to fruition.” He said the development project is the second-largest in Southwest Atlanta after the expansion at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“We feel very good about this being the start of what people have been anticipating for so many years, where progress is being made,” Butts said.

Fort McPherson once was home to the Third Army, U.S. Army Reserve Command and the United States Army Forces Command. The former army post closed in 2011 as part of a Department of Defense restructuring, causing thousands of job losses and striking a major economic blow to nearby neighborhoods.

Plans were made to convert 450 acres of the site into a life sciences campus and mixed-use development, but those ideas did not materialize. The LRA acquired the site from the Army in 2015 and sold 330 acres to filmmaker Tyler Perry, who has since developed that area into a movie studio.

But redevelopment of the remaining land outside the bustling Tyler Perry Studios has largely been stuck in limbo.

In 2017, the redevelopment authority tapped Stephen Macauley as the lead developer for the remaining 145 acres. He proposed to develop about 2,500 residences, offices, shops, lodging, restaurants and a performing arts center under a long-term land lease. However, that agreement soon soured and in 2019 the redevelopment authority approved $3.5 million to buy Macauley out of the deal.

Perry, meanwhile, acquired another 28 acres of the remaining land to develop an entertainment and shopping district that would be open to the public.

In a news release Wednesday, the LRA said the lease approval to Jakes’ firm “paves the way for a groundbreaking collaboration” between the redevelopment authority and Jakes’ venture.

“For the first time since the closing of Fort McPherson in 2011, we stand with great anticipation at the doorstep to a new future for not only the former post but for the surrounding community,” the redevelopment authority said in the release.

Butts said a ribbon cutting and groundbreaking ceremony are anticipated at the site within the next two months. He added that the Jakes team is planning to renovate one of the historic buildings on the former post in the coming weeks.

“That shows that their involvement didn’t happen overnight,” he said.

The real estate company says its vision is to create “attainable and sustainable communities in a global marketplace.”