Atlanta Development Authority (2005)
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13
On Tuesday, February 8, City Lights gathered at the Atlanta Development Authority's office, located on Pryor Street, next to Downtown's Underground. In its building decor, the ADA has maintained the essence of its previous tenant, a candy factory. Exposed, whitewashed brick walls and high, wood-beamed ceilings give the office a rugged, open feel. The building's factory-like style coupled with the Development Authority's daunting tasks make for an unusual ambiance. Clearly, this is a place not only where hard labor is performed, but also where ideas are inspired.
Greg Giornelli, the ADA's President, kicked off the meeting with a brief explanation of the Development Authority's history and the tasks currently before them. In brief, the Atlanta Development Authority is a public entity, created by the City of Atlanta, to promote the revitalization and growth of the city. They have the power to issue bonds, create affordable housing initiatives, develop tax allocation districts, conduct special projects (the beltline, for example), and develop new economic vehicles that will recruit new businesses and develop more jobs in the Metro area.
Prior to Mayor Shirley Franklin's election, the Development Authority was in financial disarray, beset with a stagnant vision and narrow implementation, which focused mainly on affordable housing in community redevelopment. With Franklin's leadership, however, and the expertise of qualified individuals like Giornelli, the ADA has experienced a healthy, productive turnaround. The group is now financially stable, and Mayor Franklin's blueprint for the city, available for public viewing on the ADA Web site at www.atlantada.com, gave Giornelli and his staff qualitative goals and accountability for the city's future plans and incentives. The ADA has seven objectives they hope to accomplish in the next five years. They are:
1) To produce 60,000 new jobs for the city, or, 3% annual growth
2) To build on Atlanta's strengths by creating 24,000 new jobs related to the Hartsfield/Jackson airport
3) To grow property value within the city limits by $26 billion
4) To create 10,000 newly developed, city-subsidized affordable housing units
5) To decrease the crime rate by 50%, using the ADA?s newly developed economic vehicles to make the city safer
6) To increase the city?s public high school completion rate to 72%, from 57%
7) Add 1900 acres of parks and green space along the city?s beltline, an increase of 50%.
Giornelli noted that in 1970, the regional population of Atlanta was 1 million, while the city's population then (within the city limits) was 450,000. Over the past 35 years, that regional population exploded, as 4 million people moved into the area. The city's population, however, has decreased over the years, to 416,000. That combination (large outside population, small inside population) has created problems on many levels, including traffic issues, pollution, and more wide-spread crime. Giornelli said that his most intriguing challenge and opportunity is two-fold: to bring people closer to the city center, so that the city's population will grow, and to bring plenty of opportunities to Atlanta that will spur that growth in the city center. Giornelli is also committed to having Atlanta grow in all the right places, namely, along Peachtree's spine, downtown, and along the much-anticipated Beltline.
Cheryl Strickland, the ADA's Managing Director of Tax Allocation Districts (TADs), shared with us some details of her complex, difficult job. She focuses on 5 geographic areas within the city: Atlantic Station, Eastside, Westside, Perry Bolton, & Princeton Lakes. Strickland spends her time outlining incentives for developers to build in "problem areas," creating helpful public financing opportunities for redevelopment projects and and clean-up initiatives, and meeting with developers about these projects.
Tina Arbes, Director of Special Projects for the ADA, spoke with the group about the Beltline Project, which will create alternatives to our city's public transportation, produce bike and running/walking trails throughout the city, build a new park system, and design a way to efficiently employ 2900 acres of property that is currently underutilized. Arbes and her team have a difficult task ahead. Although the concept of the Beltline sounds ideal, there are many hurdles to jump; the ADA estimates that the project will cost a whopping $318 million, and those funds can't all come from the city. They need a strong source of local match funds, coupled with federal and private monies, in order to make it a reality. Furthermore, other issues may stand in the way of this fantastic development, including the CSX rail line that makes up 25% of the proposed Beltline and Atlanta's current public transit issues.
We at CityLights are so grateful for the Atlanta Development Authority's commitment to our city. They generously gave of their time and resources, including a lovely, catered breakfast, to host our group. Please join us in remembering Mayor Franklin, Greg Giornelli, Cheryl Strickland, Tina Arbes, and the staff of the ADA in your prayers as they work to build for Atlanta a better, more beautiful tomorrow.
Next month, we'll visit Neil Shorthouse at Communities in Schools! Be on the lookout for more information on that CityLights event! Thank you, as always, for your enthusiasm and participation. See you next month!
- 24/7 Gateway (2005)
- AMEN, Inc. (2005)
- Atlanta American Red Cross (2005)
- Atlanta Community Food Bank (2006)
- Atlanta Development Authority (2005)
- Atlanta Housing (2006)
- Atlanta Intercultural Ministries (2005)
- Atlanta Mission (2011)
- Atlanta Youth Academy (2007)
- Beltline & Proposed Westside Park (2011)
- Buckhead Christian Ministry (2006)
- Carver Bible College (2006)
- Carver YMCA (2009)
- Charis Community Housing (2012)
- Childspring (2007)
- City of Refuge
- Communitites in Schools (2005, 2007,2011)
- Covenant House (2004)
- Create Your Dreams (2005)
- David Allman and Friends (2004)
- Families First (2006)
- FCS Urban Ministries
- Frazer Center (2012)
- Georgia Student Leadership Forum
- Good Samaritan Health Center (2005)
- How People Grow (2012)
- Jars of Clay Outreach (2006)
- Justice (2012)
- The Leaders Lyceum
- Life Lessons (2006)
- Mary Mac's (2009)
- MedShare International (2004)
- SafeHouse Outreach (2005)
- Sears Building Becoming Ponce City Market (2012)
- Theatrical Outfit (2011)