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Opponents of Gulch development incentives vow to continue fight in court

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Redlight the Gulch wants to appeal a Fulton County Superior Court ruling

Downtown Atlanta’s horrible Gulch, in photos.
Over the next decade or two, the desolate Gulch could become the multibillion-dollar Centennial Yards.
Curbed Atlanta

Although a Fulton County Superior Court judge has ruled that using $1.25 billion in bonds supported by sales taxes to propel the Gulch’s development is legally copacetic, opponents of the massive plan say they’re not done fighting.

In November, the Atlanta City Council gave the go-ahead for a nearly $2 billion bond package—backed by property and sales taxes—to help Los Angeles-based developer CIM Group bring potentially $5 billion in new construction to downtown’s most desolate pit.

All the while, activist group Redlight the Gulch—named in response to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’s “Green-light the Gulch” campaign—has been calling foul, as to how that public money could be spent.

A Fulton judge says city leaders acted in accordance with the law when crafting and approving the incentives package as it pertains to the sales tax support, but there is still no ruling on two bonds involving property taxes, according to Saporta Report.

Redlight the Gulch leader Julian Bene told Curbed Atlanta in an email that the organization plans to appeal the former ruling.

“The Fulton court has not turned down a city bond proposal for longer than anyone can remember, but appeals courts and those in other counties have been less deferential,” he said.

Bene asserts that the City of Atlanta and CIM Group have not provided proof their sales tax revenue projects are viable.

“Nor would those revenues come close to supporting a bond issue of $1.25 billion,” added Bene. “The city and developer had admitted this in court. In effect, they had asked the judge to delegate bond validation to an unidentified consultant on a rolling future basis.

“This procedure would mark a radical departure from bond validation practice,” Bene continued. “Allowing it would make a mockery of judicial bond validation hearings that are intended as a check and balance to protect the public interest.”

CIM Group representatives did not respond to Curbed’s inquiries regarding the legal melee, and this story will be update should responses be provided.