Thursday, September 21, 2006

Entry 10

Came across this...

Developer backs out of Beltline
Atlanta plan calls for creation of 22-mile loop of transit and trails

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 09/21/06

The Gwinnett County investor who owns five miles of Atlanta's planned Beltline in Northeast Atlanta abandoned plans this afternoon to develop the property and donate a portion of it to Atlanta for use as parks, trails and transit. He is considering his options for the property, he said.

Wayne Mason withdrew his rezoning applications at about 2 p.m. Mason needed to have Atlanta rezone the property, about 70 acres, to allow construction of just over 3,000 residences, along with retail space.

The company headed by Mason, Northeast Atlanta Beltline Group, issued a statement that raises questions about whether Atlanta officials are serious about building the Beltline, which is to be a 22-mile loop of transit and trails flanked by parks.

"After nearly two years, we have every reason to be skeptical of the entire Beltline project," the company said in a statement. "To realize the Beltline, there has to be property ownership. Given the city's lack of ownership of any land in the 22-mile Beltline, their lack of money to buy the land and the highly speculative nature of their proposal to us, we realized that like other visions, this one is unlikely to sustain itself."

Atlanta on Tuesday asked Northeast Atlanta Beltline Group to trade all of its land in exchange for the development rights for about 2,000 residential units, the statement said. The city valued the deal for Mason at $48 million to $100 million. Mason paid $25 million for the property.

Steve Cover, Atlanta's planning commissioner, said last week that the city's proposal was based on calculations on Mason's profits if he accepted the deal.

The action raises questions about the timetable for building the Beltline's network of parks, trails and transit in Northeast Atlanta. Mason had intended to donate about 43 acres of his land to Atlanta for public use. The corridor is the core of the planned route of the Beltline through Northeast Atlanta.

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