Atlanta Mayor Reed commits to more time in Underground deal

With the drop-dead deadline he imposed on potential buyers of Underground Atlanta just hours away, Mayor Kasim Reed on Tuesday afternoon said he was willing to be flexible.

“Right now everybody is working as close to the deadline as possible,” Reed said at the groundbreaking of a southwest Atlanta park honoring pioneering black doctors in the city. “I shouldn’t be unreasonable solely because I said the 31st.”

Reed earlier in January said that South Carolina-based WRS Real Estate Investments, which has been negotiating for Underground for months, would either sign a deal by month's end or he would shop the destination elsewhere.

The city is trying to sell Underground for about $34.5 million and Reed has said there are other interested buyers.

Kevin Rogers, an executive with WRS, said late last week that his team is “working as hard as we can spending all the time and financial resources possible to reach the goal line.”

Selling Underground is complex. The tiered mall straddles heavy rail and MARTA transit lines. It now involves privatized downtown streets and includes land acquired by the city that once belonged to the state of Georgia.

At a meeting with the editorial board of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, Reed signaled that he might extend the deadline because of that complexity.

He repeated that on Tuesday.

“Everybody is working hard to close the transaction,” he said at the park ceremony. “It’s just highly complex. So I’m not going to blow everything up.”

Staff writer Scott Trubey contributed to this story.