Masons out of the Beltline.

Wayne Mason has had enough of the City of Atlanta’s management of the Beltline project:

For more than a year, the Gwinnett County businessman had wrangled with Atlanta City Hall over his proposal to develop his five choice miles of the Beltline, the city’s 22-mile transit-and-trails loop planned around the urban core.

But on Tuesday, the city presented Mason with a surprise deal that would require him to swap his property on the potentially lucrative Beltline in exchange for the right to build elsewhere in the city. And then Mayor Shirley Franklin wouldn’t meet with an incensed Mason and his lawyer — former Gov. Roy Barnes — who still wanted to salvage their project, Barnes said Friday.

“I wanted to take Wayne down to the mayor and tell her eyeball to eyeball, ‘Don’t be surprised, we’re going to withdraw our applications,’ ” Barnes said. “She was booked. I said I’d come anytime, anyplace. She couldn’t do it. I said I’d await her call.”

On Thursday, Barnes withdrew Mason’s rezoning applications for his 70 acres of Beltline property in northeast Atlanta, the week before the rezoning consideration process was set to begin.

Atlanta officials declined to comment at all on Friday, saying the only comment was the one issued Thursday by the mayor. Franklin said, “The long-term project has been met over the past two years with many mistakes. But make no mistake, it will happen.”

But what will happen to the Beltline is unclear.

You can’t fight City Hall. So what’s next?

One possible outcome is for Atlanta to buy Mason’s land, said Mark Randall, director of Wood Partners, a residential developer who served on the Beltline task force.

“The city is going to figure out a way to get that property for the Beltline, and then the city can control and influence what gets done along there,” he said Friday. “If the city could acquire all that land, the city could sell it and more than get back its money, and do it in a way that the development’s guided by the city and not by individual developers.

It seems to me that’s what the City wanted all along. Time will tell if the Beltline is a success, but government guided developments often turn into boondoggles.

Other posts on this subject:
Facing the Challenges of Growth in Atlanta
Problems for the Beltline?

8 comments

  1. Harry says:

    “government guided developments often turn into boondoggles”

    Yep, and people are smarter than they were 30 years ago. Taxpayers will see to it that it doesn’t turn into a porkfest, or even a bailout for Wayne Mason.

  2. sethweathers says:

    Atlanta has missed out on a great opportunity here… this was a chance to have blighted areas cleaned up and moved into the 21st century. As always, they have made a complete screw up of it. Mason was going above and beyond with the land he would have been donating to green space.

    I’m really sick of hearing the little anti-capitalist’ trying to tell businesspeople how to run their businesses…

  3. RiverRat says:

    Mason wasn’t cleaning up any blighted areas, he was moving into established communities and changing the character of the neighborhood – a character which was successful from any persepective, as a community or just economically, since these WERE blighted 20-30 years ago and have turned around thanks to the hard work of many homeowners and local business folks working together.

    Whether Mason had a good vision for the future of the area is up for debate, and I personally see both sides. But it isn’t as simple as “anti-capitalists”, etc. I would have preferred to see some bargain be struck, but Mason didn’t want to wait around, I guess.

  4. rmckibben says:

    sethweathers…flawed logic. This isn’t a retail establishment being told how to market their products. If that were the case I would sgree with you. This a developer wanting to build something that the neighborhood will have to live with long after Mr. Mason had made his millions and is sipping brandy at his house in Gwinett. I wonder how you would react to Mason wanting to build 38 and 39 story towers at the entrance to your subdivision?

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