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With Gulch vote delayed, council seeks independent review for incentives deal

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Governor warns HQ2 chances might be jeopardized, but city leaders and community members worried the massive proposal was being rushed

The overarching Gulch vision, complete with new construction aplenty.
Councilmenbers want more time to determine if the proposed Gulch arrangement is worth their approval.
Rendering courtesy of CIM Group; designs, Perkins + Will

An incentives carrot worth upwards of $1 billion or more is on the line for Los Angeles-based developer CIM Group, the company eyeing downtown Atlanta’s Gulch for a mammoth redevelopment project.

But for the time being, CIM Group will have to pump the brakes, thanks to concerns from Atlanta City Council members and many of their constituents.

Last week, the council’s Community Development/Human Services Committee held a work session to discuss the proposed 600-plus-page development agreement that would yield the developer incentives based on how much new construction it brought to the barren wasteland of overgrown parking lots and train tracks.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms had implored the committee to send the proposed deal to a Monday council vote, although, by then, it was clear that too few councilmembers were willing to push the legislation along without further review, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

So Bottoms delayed the proposed vote Monday, while the council hashed out what to do next.

Downtown Atlanta’s horrible Gulch, in photos. Curbed Atlanta

Eight city councilmembers signed legislation Monday that would ask the city’s chief financial officer to contract an outside consulting firm to study the development agreement and report back with a review.

No one, of course, is debating that the Gulch needs to be enlivened, although considering the amount of public funding that could fuel the 40-acre project, several councilmembers felt they were being rushed by the mayor and Gov. Nathan Deal.

Deal told Bottoms that delaying the project’s progress could hamper Atlanta’s chances of scoring Norfolk Southern’s new headquarters, according to an AJC report.

If CIM Group follows through on building between a $3 and $5 billion mini-city in the Gulch, the current proposal says, the company could be granted between $900 million and $1.75 billion in public funding—too much, some councilmembers thought, to move forward without a closer look.

Another public hearing on the Gulch plans is set for Sept. 26 at Atlanta City Hall.

This story has been updated to note that Gov. Nathan Deal said delaying the Gulch deal could jeopardize Atlanta’s chances of securing Norfolk Southern’s HQ, not Amazon’s.