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Revised Gulch deal nixes 10-year Westside TAD extension, a major hurdle for approval

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City officials met with CIM Group reps last week to rework the controversial development agreement

The overarching Gulch vision, complete with new construction aplenty.
CIM Group’s tentative plan for the Gulch calls for a downtown mini-city.
Rendering courtesy of CIM Group; designs, Perkins + Will

With mere hours before the next Atlanta City Council meeting, all eyes are on the controversial proposal to provide public funding incentives for CIM Group to redevelop downtown’s Gulch.

Last week, the chances of a full council vote Monday on a deal worth up to $1.75 billion for the developer looked slim, as the proposal hadn’t garnered support from a majority of the councilmembers.

But after some 11th-hour tweaks made Thursday and Friday by city officials and representatives from the Los Angeles-based development company, the proposal is primed to cause quite a stir at a meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. today.

Whether the city council will actually vote then is a different story.

The revised development agreement, designed to reduce the taxpayer burden and increase community benefits, lacks a clause from its predecessor that would have extended the life of the Westside Tax Allocation District by 10 years—from 2038 until 2048—according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

That nixed part of the deal had initially rubbed Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen the wrong way. She worried that freezing property tax collections at current levels would adversely affect the school system’s finances, the paper reported.

The school system’s unwillingness to budge has reportedly resulted in some bad blood between the mayor’s office and APS—but the change involving the Westside TAD is expected to remove a significant hurdle for the deal’s eventual approval.

The revised deal, like the previous one, would require approval from APS and Fulton County.

Still, with the clock ticking, there’s little time for public input, should Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms push for a Monday vote. Her eagerness to green-light the deal has some constituents and councilmembers wary of waving it through.

In a statement issued Friday, before news of a revised deal broke, Councilman Andre Dickens said of the proposal, “I have a substantial amount of unreadiness and can’t support it at this time.”

“There are tons of opinions about the merits of the deal and the process,” Dickens continued. “One fact remains clear after all these discussions, there isn’t broad support for the proposed deal,” he said, asserting that the negotiation process should restart from scratch.