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Developer Bluntly Blames MARTA Expansion Woes on Racism

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Mark Toro, the dapper mouthpiece of North American Properties, wasn't pulling punches at a recent Bisnow event when he blamed suburban Atlanta's 40-year pushback against MARTA on the R-word. "It's racism," Toro told a roomful of hundreds of real estate officials and other key Atlanta players. "We've got to recognize it and call it what it is … The train runs both ways, and we don't want those people out here. That is the prevailing theme in suburban communities." Event organizers Bisnow described Toro's claims as "shocking" while recalling evidence to support his assertions, including T-SPLOST's crushing 2012 defeat, which was largely the result of suburban naysaying at the polls. Toro, whose company built Avalon and reinvigorated Atlantic Station, is also ULI Atlanta's Livable Communities Council chair; as such, he's rallying North Fulton cities to get on board with a potential heavy-rail expansion funded by a half-penny sales tax. It sounds like Johns Creek, for one, will be a significant hurdle.

Atlantic Station

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