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Atlanta City Council needs more time to mull revised Gulch deal; vote delayed

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The saga with potentially $1.75 billion at stake continues around downtown’s festering urban void

A rendering courtesy of CIM Group; designs, Perkins + Will.
The envisioned, private streets of CIM Group’s proposal.
Rendering courtesy of CIM Group; designs, Perkins + Will

Green-light The Gulch proponents must be getting anxious at this point.

In recent days, city officials and CIM Group have opted to axe a provision that would have extended the life of the Westside Tax Allocation District by 10 years—from 2038 to 2048—meaning the developer would be on the hook for paying taxes a decade sooner.

But still, the massive incentives package needed to push the Gulch development agreement along has failed to earn a full Atlanta City Council vote yet again.

When the revised deal, the result of negotiations that took place late last week and this past weekend, was presented at Monday’s city council meeting, councilmembers again said they needed more time to vet the proposal before voting.

In many ways, the development deal looks largely the same as it did before the 11th-hour amendments.

Nixing the 10-year TAD extension might have appeased Atlanta Public Schools officials, who were concerned that such a clause could end up hurting the system’s finances. It appears, however, that hurdles still remain.

The deal could still send up to $1.75 billion in public financing to CIM Group over a 30-year period, assuming the Los Angeles-based developer commits to building some $5 billion worth of new construction in the desolate downtown pit.

The overarching Gulch vision, complete with new construction aplenty.
The stunning vision for the 40-acre downtown pit.
Rendering courtesy of CIM Group; designs, Perkins + Will

But even city councilmembers are still in the dark about some of the details of the revised proposal, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

District 2 Councilman Amir Farokhi said Monday that he and the council would need at least the next few weeks to mull over the deal, and he’d like to see the plan mapped out in a way that allows for commuter rail in the future, the paper reported.

Farokhi also said he wants to ensure the streets that will one day cross through the development are controlled by the public, rather than CIM Group, which would mean the Gulch could one day host the protests and rallies that occasionally snake through downtown.

Part of the Gulch today.
Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta

This all comes less than two weeks after the city council shot down the idea of hiring an independent auditor to vet the Gulch development proposal.

An official date for a vote on the Gulch legislation is yet to be decided, although it’s possible one could be called via special meeting in advance of the next full council meeting on November 5.