After more than nine hours of public comment and discussion, Atlanta City Council approved a deal that will allow the private developer, CIM Group, to build out the Gulch.
The Gulch is a 40-acre hole in downtown Atlanta across from State Farm Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. It was once the transportation hub of Atlanta in the early 1900s. Due to congestion with trains and pedestrian traffic, the city raised surrounding streets and created the depression.
The four pieces of legislation will give CIM access to nearly $2 billion in public funding.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms spoke to the council after the vote and said she believes this deal will be a model for other cities.
“We have done what Atlanta does best,” Bottoms said thanking the city council. “We have found a way to make sure that business and our communities are working hand in hand to make Atlanta better for the people of this city.”
The controversial project took months to get passed. Bottoms tried to push the legislation through a city council committee in September before saying she wouldn’t ask for a vote from the full council. In October, another potential vote was delayed as the public and city council members asked for more time and information.
The mayor then held a public information session breaking down details of the deal for the public. About a week before the final vote, some city council members held a work session to discuss a newly negotiated deal after resisting the mayor’s original proposal.
During the many hours of public comment over the past few months, many residents said they were concerned with the lack of attention paid to affordable housing and the problems this development would create for residents living in the area.
Concerns also stemmed from the amount of public money being put into the project while the city has a number of other issues to deal with, like transportation and reducing the homeless population.
To address some of those concerns, the deal approved with CIM requires a percentage of the proposed thousand units to be affordable along with office space. The proposal also includes 1,500 hotel rooms to be built in the Gulch.
Before the final vote, Norfolk Southern sent a letter to the city council saying a “no” vote would hurt the city’s chances of landing the company’s headquarters.
The Gulch redevelopment also gained the support of Gov. Nathan Deal, Andrew Young, and Democratic candidate for governor Stacey Abrams.