Reed wants to close homeless shelter to build emergency response unit

Faced with the growing threat of domestic terrorism, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is planning to enforce eminent domain to take control of the notorious Peachtree and Pine homeless shelter and convert it into a joint police and fire station with a helipad to better respond to emergencies between Buckhead and Downtown.

“I don’t want to prevent you all from being able to sleep at night, but we are going to make a very compelling case to the court that in the current global environment… this is a must for a major American city,” Reed said. “And if I am putting the money in to build a unit with S.W.A.T, firefighters, police officers and a helicopter, then I am not playing around.”

Reed said theoretically, units from the facility would be able to get anywhere within the Downtown-Buckhead corridor in under 14 minutes in the event of an emergency.

Reed made the comments this morning at a meeting with the City Club of Buckhead.

No specific timetable or funding plan was discussed at the meeting – Reed was responding to a question during a Q&A – but Reed only has a little more than a year left in office.

“I am going to do everything in my power to close it before I leave office,” Reed said.

The city of Atlanta and the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter have been at odds for years. The massive shelter, which sits in the heart of the city, is often teeming with homeless men and women hanging outside of the facility.

The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, which runs the facility, has been fighting foreclosure and eviction since 2010, having been in default with its lenders.

Last November, in a unanimous opinion, the Georgia Supreme Court said a jury should decide whether the foreclosure sale of the task force’s building was illegal. The court also said a jury should decide whether business leaders conspired to interfere with the task force’s donors to deprive the shelter of the funding it needed to stay afloat.

“We're not just going to be tough and close the shelter,” Reed said. “I am going to show the court that I believe I need to do this for public safety. But the people who are there are going to be in better facilities than they have ever been before. They are just not going to be large facilities that hold 400 people at once. They are going to be scattered in smaller facilities where we can focus on greater care and treatment.”

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