City Council approves Turner Field sale agreement, residents left outraged

On Monday, Atlanta City Council approved the resolution that would require Georgia State to give Turner Field residents their long-sought after benefits. Only problem, according to Peoplestown resident, Sherice Brown, it didn’t.  

Resolution 16-R-3455 passed in the Atlanta City Council and is headed to the mayor’s office for final approval. If Mayor Reed signs the resolution, the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority (AFCRA), who is selling Turner Field to Georgia State, will be able to move forward with the sale.

Sheryl Bennett, a staff member for Councilwoman Carla Smith said the resolution is a preliminary step in the sale negotiations.

“This paper is all about giving AFCRA the authority to go ahead with the sale contract, then Fulton County will do the same,” she said.

But Brown said there have been no negotiations was made for the residents’ requests to be added into the agreement.

“We have had LCI meetings, but that’s just a conversation, there was never any commitment from the city,” she said. “Somewhere along the line, the ball was dropped.”

Brown is a member of the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition, an organization comprised of residents from Peoplestown, Mechanicsville and Summerhill. The coalition sought to negotiate a benefits agreement with the city of Atlanta, to be incorporated in the sale contract.

The platform asked developers to deliver a range of amenities including a grocery store, affordable housing and retail stores.

“I am really ashamed of the city of Atlanta,” Brown said. “For them to make the sale contract without a benefits agreement shows the city is moving more toward gentrification and displacing poor residents.”

The resolution lists “Purchaser Commitments” that Panther Holdings, LLC, Ted’s prospective purchaser, agreed to carry out post-purchase. These commitments include cooperation with the Livable Centers Initiative, a program that awards planning grants to local governments and nonprofit organizations.  Also, the property, will be subject to an ad valorem property tax and usage of small, minority and female business enterprises in the re-development project.

Possibly the most directly beneficial to Turner Field residents is the “Workforce Housing Covenant”, which states any residential housing developed must be affordable to residents “earning no more than 80% of the area median income”.

Bennett said the problem is even if affordable housing becomes available, not enough people will know about it to take advantage. She said it has to do with “personal responsibility” of knowing about available resources.

But Brown said affordable housing was just one part of the agreement, and the city neglected the coalition’s other requests.

“You can’t just pick and choose from an agreement,”she said. “We tried to trust and work with them, but this was a slap in the face.”