District 7 Councilman Howard Shook, who represents Buckhead, has issued a statement expressing his opposition to the Atlanta Development Authority giving a tax abatement to JLB Pharr Road LLC for the construction of 375 luxury apartments on the south side of Pharr Road between Peachtree and the Atlanta Fish Market.
The development authority on March 17 voted to issue up to $62 million in general obligation bonds for the construction of the apartments, according to the ADA minutes. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, an ADA member, approved the action. The tax abatement was opposed by ADA member Julian Bene, according to the minutes.
NPU-B at its May meeting expressed its opposition to the tax abatement. Chairperson Sally Silver said that after the NPU meeting, she notified Shook about the ADA action. Silver said last week that Shook " was quite disturbed" to learn about the ADA action and would discus the vote with ADA Executive Director Earnestine Geary.
Here is Shook's statement, sent in an e-mail Wednesday to Buckhead Patch.
"I have learned that the board of the Atlanta Development Authority has approved a tax abatement for a 375-unit apartment complex to be built on Pharr Road. The developer will evidently realize tax savings on his LEED Silver project of approximately 25 percent over a 10-year period. Although other area development authorities have often entered such deals, this is unusual for the ADA. They were persuaded to support it in large part because the site, contaminated from previous uses, was eligible for a potentially larger incentive from a federal program.
Because the ADA needs approval for such transactions from its own board only, neither legislation from (nor notice to) City Council is required. When I learned of the deal, I spoke with ADA’s leadership as well as Mayor Reed to express my frustration. I have always believed — and had previously shared this belief with the ADA — that our General Fund, which is, like all governments, strapped by a still-weak economy, should be carefully guarded against giveaways, regardless of the good intentions or short-term benefit. I also continue to believe that the enabling legislation creating such mechanisms contemplated jump-starting activity in chronically under-invested areas. Buckhead hardly fits that description. We needn’t resort to costly gimmicks to lure projects that would end up here naturally. What we DO need assistance with is overcoming the hangover from hyper development, such as a dearth of green space and increasingly congested streets.
From my perspective the I find ADA’s action to be additionally troubling in that they are currently lobbying the City Council for a million-dollar operating infusion from the General Fund — a fund soon to be smaller by the tax giveaway they granted. I have told the mayor and ADA that I will not support it."