The GreenRoom: November 2006

Don’t lose sleep over Wayne Mason’s pulling out of the Beltline. He wanted residents before transit, which would have made surrounding areas miserable with traffic, and he opposed creation of a multimodal transit facility that would pick up commuters using the proposed Lovejoy light rail line in Atlanta.

Mason’s vision of high rise condo towers bordering Piedmont Park was ultimately too “Trumpesque” for Midtown’s residents, though he maintains density is needed to pay for the rest of the land, which he was donating for greenspace and transit development. Atlanta wanted Mason to give the land to the city in exchange for “Transfer Development Rights” to develop 2,000 units elsewhere in town; he wanted to develop 3,000 units in the 60-story condo towers and surrounding areas.

But neighborhood groups were more vocally opposed to his concepts than the city, and it is their taxes that are allocated to pay for the project, leaving the city little choice in the matter.

Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the project will go on, with or without Mason’s five-mile portion of its 22-mile loop. “The Beltline is bigger than any one individual, property owner or development,” she has said.

Mason’s lawyer, former Gov. Roy Barnes, said the city shut Mason out of its plans for the rest of the Beltline, and that it would be “very difficult to make the Beltline work” without his investment. It will be interesting to see if Mason sells his property or hangs onto it in hopes of a friendlier Atlanta administration down the road.

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