Before the Beltline can unite and connect Atlanta, it first has to experience Atlanta's tale of two cities.
Visit a study group north of I-20, say near Buckhead and Tanyard Creek, and residents fume about bike-trail paths. Venture down to Metropolitan Parkway and in southwest Atlanta, and you hear pleas for economic development, jobs and, most importantly, attention.
Which is why last week's decision by Beltline leaders to spend almost half of the $98 million in initial bond proceeds to pay for a sliver of land in northeast Atlanta has many concerned that all the benefits of the Beltline are going to be felt north of I-20.
Even the advisory committee formed to oversee Atlanta Beltline Inc. is critical of the decision.
"Based on our assessment of what the Beltline wants to do, there is no equitability in the allocation of those dollars when you're going to use 80 percent of it in the northeast quadrant," says Eugene Bowens, chairman of Tax Allocation District Advisory Committee.
At issue is a 4.5-mile stretch of land owned by Gwinnett County developer Wayne Mason and his son, Keith. The Masons purchased the land near Monroe Drive and Piedmont Road for $26.5 million in 2004, and announced plans to build two high-rise towers. The Masons also promised to donate their railroad right-of-way to the Beltline project.
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(Photo by Joeff Davis)
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