Turner Field group calls for community benefits plan

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A group representing neighborhoods around Turner Field on Thursday said they want a condition in the stadium sales agreement to require Georgia State University and its development partners to negotiate a legally binding community benefits plan.

Members of the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition called on the local agency that owns the Ted to require an agreement outlining how the development team will design the project and bring economic development, enhance public safety and do such things as prevent the displacement of longtime residents.

The university and its partners, Carter and Oakwood Development, are negotiating a sale agreement with the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority, which could be reached in the coming weeks. Georgia State and its partners have pledged to work with the stadium neighborhoods. Carter President Scott Taylor declined to comment citing the ongoing sales negotiations.

Georgia State and its development team were named the preferred bidder in December, and have proposed an expansive mix of uses, including private student housing, market rate apartments, senior housing, retail, instructional space and the conversion of Turner Field into a new Georgia State football stadium.

Redevelopment would start sometime after the Braves leave Turner Field after the upcoming baseball season.

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to a community benefits plan as part of its deal with the city for public funding of their new downtown stadium.

At a press briefing Thursday outside the ballpark, members of the benefits coalition said the rebirth of Turner Field is an opportunity to correct top-down development plans that left only broken promises and empty parking lots outside The Ted. But the group wants pledges from the university and its partners in writing.

“Now we have the opportunity to get it right,” said Jason Dozier, a Georgia State graduate and Mechanicsville resident.

As Georgia State and its development team negotiate a sales agreement, a community planning study for the stadium area is also underway under the Atlanta Regional Commission's Livable Centers Initiative.

“The planners, the developers, the politicians have had their turn and it’s time for the neighborhoods and the people to be heard,” said Summerhill resident John Colabelli.

Among the coalition’s requests are:

  • Infrastructure improvements to mitigate longstanding flooding issues and transportation upgrades that reduce game traffic and provide multi-modal transportation options.
  • A walkable street grid with higher density that connects with existing neighborhoods and provides public space and green space that matches the character of existing communities.
  • Job and business contract opportunities with residents and local merchants, job training and education programs for youths and adults.
  • Protect longtime residents from displacement.
  • Improved policing and public safety efforts.
  • Guarantee diverse housing options, including affordable units.
  • Neighborhood amenities including a grocery store and other retail and entertainment options.
  • Establish an oversight committee for the developer to report progress towards the bind community benefits agreement.