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Brookhaven MARTA development further derailed over tax incentives

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While neighbors are concerned about density and traffic, council members are now worried about money

Back in 2014, visions of a transit-oriented development (TOD) around the Brookhaven MARTA station began to materialize, ostensibly signaling a movement toward density dependent on rail transit in the tony northern reaches of town.

Slated to contain apartments, an office building, a hotel, and civic spaces — all anchored by a large park and the train station — it was lauded (by some) as a major step toward the creation of pedestrian-centric development.

Then the NIMBYs emerged.

Concerns over density, traffic, and the potential effect the development could have on surrounding properties resulted in the Brookhaven City Council continually deferring the rezoning request for the site, essentially blocking the project from moving forward. Ultimately, the decision was pushed off until next year as MARTA worked to address some of the concerns.

Now, however, more issues have come up.

Adding to the chorus of displeasure are calls that requested tax abatements, which would bring the development to fruition, shouldn’t be granted. According to Reporter Newspapers, some Brookhaven council members are questioning the promised breaks to the developer.

The issue adds to the grief for MARTA, who has already begun construction on other TODs. Amanda Rhein, who oversees the developments for the transit agency, told the paper the latest setback came as “a little bit of a surprise.”

Proponents for the project argue it will bring amenities to improve property values across the neighborhood, as well as convert parking lots around the station into valuable property to add to the city’s tax base. All told, the project could potentially seek up to $26 million in tax abatements.

Interestingly, the city granted $36 million in similar concessions earlier this year to the Atlanta Hawks for their new practice facility just a few miles from the MARTA site.

Alas, those hoping for Brookhaven to set the tone for future TODs are in for a long, bitter struggle, it seems.