Atlanta Mayor Reed confident on Underground, has big homelessness plan

JANUARY 30, 2017 ATLANTA Mayor Kasim Reed talks with the Atlanta Journal Constitution editorial board Monday, January 30, 2017. Kent D. Johnson/AJC
JANUARY 30, 2017 ATLANTA Mayor Kasim Reed talks with the Atlanta Journal Constitution editorial board Monday, January 30, 2017. Kent D. Johnson/AJC

Credit: Kent Johnson

Credit: Kent Johnson

Mayor Kasim Reed on Monday said he anticipates he will get a deal to sell Underground Atlanta done by Tuesdsay’s drop dead deadline and that Atlantans can expect a major announcement on homelessness this week.

In an exclusive, wide-ranging preview of his “state of the city” speech set for Thursday, Reed handicapped the upcoming mayor’s race, struck a confident tone on negotiations with College Park over car rental taxes needed to keep the Atlanta Hawks downtown and said he’s going to leave redevelopment of Midtown’s civic center to his successor.

But while he was forthcoming about most things, he only teased about his plans on homelessness.

“It’s going to be huge and consequential,” Reed said.”We’re getting ready to make the biggest push around bringing an end to homelessness that we have made as a community. It will have philanthropic support tied to it. “public investment matched dollar for dollar by philanthropy.

It was the mayor’s last editorial board meeting with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before his second term ends and it was clear he wanted to convey what he had done to leave the city better off than when he found it.

He spoke of increasing reserves from $7.4 million when he took office in 2010 to $153 million today. He boasted of developments such as Ponce City Market and Buckhead Atlanta. And under his watch, he said, residents agreed last year to increase sales taxes to raise some $2.6 billion for MARTA, the biggest investment in MARTA and transportation in a generation.

“When you’re riding the new MARTA lines and all of the rest, that will be because we went for it,” he said.

But he acknowledged more works needs to be done. Some of his biggest goals have yet to be fulfilled, including the sale of Underground. In an ultimatum earlier this month, Reed said the $34.5 million sale to South Carolina-based WRS Real Estate Investments needed to close by month’s end or he would look elsewhere.

During Monday’s meeting he sounded confident that an agreement could be forged in time, but seemed to indicate flexibility because of the complexity of the deal.

He said he is considering passing development of the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center to his successor in part because he hopes an agreement can be reached before the end of his term to close the nearby Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter.

“I think that Peachtree-Pine is going to be resolved before I exit office and I don’t believe there will be individuals using that facility,” he said.

In October, Reed scratched negotiations to sell the property to a Texas development group for $30 million. He said closing Peachtree-Pine could increase the property’s value.

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