Atlanta Council Approves $13 Million Credit for Tyler Perry, Fort McPherson Deal
(APN) ATLANTA — At the Full Council Meeting of the City Council of Atlanta, on Monday, April 20, 2015, the fast-tracking of 13 million dollars for Tyler Perry’s real estate transaction deal with the City of Atlanta for a new film studio at Fort McPherson was approved by all except Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9).
The vote was 11 to 1, with Kwanza Hall (District 2), Natalyn Archibong (District 5), and Alex Wan (District 6) not voting.
The deal included approximately 488 acres.
“Tyler Perry is paying for the acquisition of the property. The parcel is larger than Atlantic Station, at no cost to taxpayers,” Mayor Kasim Reed said during the meeting.
“Sen. [Vincent] Fort made reference of having 13 million [for Tyler Perry] and not having any money for Atlanta Public Schools. Nothing is further from the truth. The letter of credit request by the Army is only activated if Tyler defaulted on the real estate. If he did, we would get 488 acres back for 13 million dollars. The only way it would be activated is if Tyler Perry Studios defaulted,” Reed said.
“He has to take down production because he doesn’t have enough room. TNT and Oprah’s network [OWN] is doing business with Atlanta. Tyler Perry did business in South Atlanta when no one else did. If this deal fails to close, he’s gonna go to Douglasville, Doraville, or to the south where they are building a new studio,” Reed said.
With an urgent timeline explained, that being April 30, 2015, before the Army turns its back on the 20 acre clean-up required to develop the property, Reed urged the Council to approve the project with less than a day’s notice of the details.
“We know that Tyler Perry’s studios are a healthy business. We are no longer the only one interested in the Fort McPherson site. The Army requires a letter of credit in order to proceed with the cleanup,” Reed said.
“This deal is about to fall apart because of the time is takes to do this. Working with the Army and pentagon is hard,” Reed explained.
“We have a fiduciary responsibility to understand this,” Councilwoman Moore objected.
“It’s a bit of a learning curve. It’s been suggested to meet the deadline, making an approval or disapproval before that deadline by having a special Council Meeting… I’m still getting handed pieces of paper on this, with a deadline of April 30th. What is wrong with that course of action?” Moore asked.
“Getting everyone to the table was hard. Folks are frustrated. If we don’t vote on this soon, the Army is gonna think Council isn’t even ready to move on it and that would be really tough,” Reed replied.
“Council wouldn’t be delaying anything as we just got it. First the legislation is introduced, then Committee, then to Council… We are doing our fiduciary responsibility,” Moore said.
“I apologize to Council, it wasn’t my intention to apply you’re not doing your job. Doraville has announced clearly they want a major a studio there right now. We are at a moment… I meant no disrespect to Council,” Reed said.
“The problem is, if it’s such a good deal, why not do a press conference, announce you are going to do it, and then do it. One thing we know is the public, the media, and Council Members didn’t see it before today,” Sen. Fort told Atlanta Progressive News.
“I bet you bottom dollar that the City Council Members didn’t read it. In keeping with how this deal with Tyler Perry has gone down… off the shelf, no bidding, secretive… ram it down your throat and go,” Sen. Fort said.
“I’ve been around here a long time… I’ve never seen anything like this before. Kasim [Reed] wants it, for all intents and purposes… doing whatever will satisfy Tyler Perry. The community is getting screwed,” Fort said.
“He already has studios in southwest Atlanta near Greenbriar… if you find anyone that can tell you it’s had a positive effect on southwest Atlanta, let me know,” Fort said.
“Tyler Perry is getting a premium… forty to five percent less than other land that is being sold… a thirty percent tax credit and not being guaranteed to hire people from the community,” Fort said.
“If the mayor can find 13 million dollars for Tyler Perry, he can find 13 million for APS from the Beltline. Can you give me a 13 million dollar credit letter?” Fort said.
“They’ve counseled him, his people have counseled him. I’ve been outspoken against it ever since he announced out of the blue, this deal,” Fort said.
“They did an RFP [request for proposals] years ago. This deal was brought up about a year ago and has been quiet for the past couple months,” Fort told APN.
“The one member of the Board to open the citizen input process… it was voted down and Kasim replaced that person,” Fort said, referring to the Fort McPherson Implementation Redevelopment Authority.
“Campbellton Road and Lee Street will be part of the redevelopment. We have been marketing this property for several years. Mr. Perry stepped up to the plate, when no one else did,” Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd (District 12), whose district includes Fort McPherson, said during the meeting.
“I didn’t have the time [to study the legislation]. It came so quickly and I had a couple of fires I was dealing with, one project in my district, one personal, so I could not spin on a dime and drop everything. If I’m not totally informed, my position is always no. I did not have enough time to invest in it to know whether it’s good or bad. I hope we don’t have to use that 13 million dollars but I just don’t know what will happen,” Councilwoman Felicia Moore told APN.
Deborah Scott of Georgia STAND-UP, who has been involved in advocating for public input and community benefits for “Fort Mac” redevelopment, did not immediately return a voicemail from APN seeking comment.