October 2007: GreenRoom
• The city of Atlanta announced intentions to purchase a small block adjacent to Oakland Cemetery to preserve as greenspace. Atlanta City Council members Carla Smith, Natalyn Archibong and Kwanza Hall sponsored the legislation; the purchase price, which could be up to $1.8 million, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, will be paid partly with city funds from accounts for buying greenspace. The Oakland Historic Foundation would cover most of the rest.
Oakland is one of Atlanta’s oldest cemeteries, with the gravesites of Margaret Mitchell, Bobby Jones and numerous other prominent Georg-ians; the city seeks to protect the block from becoming the site of a condo tower looming over the cemetery, says the AJC.
• Atlanta Beltline, Inc., a city effort to surround Atlanta with a ring of light rail, announced it will partner with NE Beltline, LLC, to jointly own and develop the northeast corridor of the Beltline property owned by Wayne and Keith Mason, clearing a major hurdle to continue development of some prime real estate.
Negotiations between the city and the Masons broke down last year over plans for a high rise at Pied-mont Park. The new plan, which is pending final due diligence and financing agreements, is being hailed as the first of what may be several private/public partnerships ABI forms to develop Beltline properties, and incorporates transit, trails, parks, housing and employment centers along the corridor. This is the third major acquisition by the city for the Beltline, following the purchase of the Bellwood Quarry last year and assemblage of Boulevard Crossing Park in June ($9 million of the city’s Opportunity Bonds were spent on the 21-acre purchase).
• The cities of Tybee Island and Chickamauga were recently awarded Georgia Land Conservation Grants and Low Interest Loans as part of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s land conservation initiative from 2005 promising $100 million in state, federal and private funding for conservation programs.
Thus far the program has en-dorsed 34 projects totaling 37,000 acres. Tybee will receive a $206,000 grant to protect salt marshes adjacent to the Savannah River estuary; additional funding to protect the 14 acres will come from the city and Chatham County.
Chickamauga received a grant of $365,000, along with a low-interest loan for $875,000, to protect the Gordon Lee Mansion historic site, which served as the main hospital for both sides during the Civil War Battle of Chickamauga. The city will use the property as a living history center, with extra funding coming from the property’s owner, city and private foundations. – Ben Young