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Residents: More transparency for ex-Atlanta base

Aug. 8, 2014 - 09:00AM   |  
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ATLANTA — Residents are calling for more transparency as an Atlanta agency considers Friday whether to sell part of an old military base to filmmaker Tyler Perry so he can build a studio.

The civilian agency overseeing the redevelopment of Fort McPherson was scheduled to hold a special meeting to consider the purchase and sale of real estate.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has said Perry could buy more than 300 acres for roughly $33 million, which is more than the McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority paid to buy the entire post from the U.S. Army. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the city of Atlanta and the Department of Veterans Affairs are expected to keep some land.

Residents said during a news conference Thursday they have been shut out of the decision-making process. Many worked for years on plans to remake the closed fort into a life science and technology park. They questioned whether Perry’s proposal was the best option.

“That is our concern — whether this is a good deal for our community,” said Allean Brown, a Cascade Heights resident.

Dianese Howard, who sits on a subcommittee of community leaders for the fort’s redevelopment authority, said those closest to the redevelopment process were surprised by the proposal to sell to Perry.

“….How can you keep people out of the process in the neighborhood who worked on your behalf?” she said.

State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, criticized Atlanta’s mayor for negotiating the deal without the knowledge of community members.

Reed has said a movie studio would draw other businesses and solidify Georgia’s place in the film industry. Despite years of planning, Reed said no other serious buyers have emerged.

“We’ve now been at this seven years, so for all of the planning that folks have discussed, no one has ever come up to Fort McPherson for anything,” Reed said in June. “None of that has happened and no one has ever put up a dime.”

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