The Invest Atlanta board on Thursday gave preliminary approval to selling a 1.47-acre strip of land at the southeast corner of Piedmont Park to a developer who plans to build a hotel and 350-unit apartment complex there.
The move was denounced by some neighborhood advocates and a board member who argued that the terms of the agreement had been hashed out in the dark.
Two of the board’s nine members opposed the project, including board secretary Julian Bene.
In a letter to his fellow board members, Bene said the project would needlessly exacerbate traffic, alter the residential character of the streets, and be short on affordable housing.
As part of the agreement, Fuqua Acquisitions will pay $2.5 million for the land, which will be combined with several other parcels for the $166 million development that will include a grocery store, restaurants, and the 150-room hotel.
Thirty percent of the homes would be affordable housing, according to the plan.
The development will front the Beltline and Atlanta Beltline Inc. will negotiate the final plans, which requires approval from the Atlanta City Council.
Incoming Councilwoman Jennifer Ide, whose council district includes the proposed development, said that the intersection at 10th Street and Monroe Drive is already dangerous and that children have been struck and killed by vehicles there.
Ide told the board that her district welcomes affordable housing, but that it needed to be transit and pedestrian friendly.
“The idea of building a car centric, parking space-heavy development is going to be of great concern to the community,” she said.
Beltline Inc. CEO Brian McGowan promised that the community would be engaged as negotiations continued.
“I was told we would have dozens and dozens of meetings, as many as is necessary so that the community feels like their voices have been heard,” McGowan said.
According to a fact sheet presented to the board, a memorandum of understanding between the Beltline and developer would be signed next month. The rezoning process would take up the next nine months and then the deal would close. Construction is scheduled for Spring 2019.
Steve Bowen, a development partner who owns land within the project area, said he didn’t know what infrastructure improvements would be needed to accommodate the project.
But those concerns, would be addressed, he said, adding that the traffic issue might even take care of itself.
“Maybe with the development there people will have the perception that it’s high traffic area and it won’t be and people will avoid the area,” he said.
Bene’s letter also criticized the sale of publicly owned land because its value hadn’t been clearly established. He wrote that the Fulton County tax assessor values a parcel of similar size on the other side of the park at $9.4 million.
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