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ATLANTA-The city’s largest redevelopment venture in history–the estimated $2.7 billion, 22-mile Beltline project–is beginning to draw the sort of criticism early supporters of the undertaking hoped would not appear. A representative of developer Wayne Mason, the largest landowner in the Beltline enterprise, tells GlobeSt.com the Atlanta Development Authority “inexplicably, neither met with Mason nor took the opportunity to review in detail the proposal of his property.”

An estimated $8-million land deal between Trammell Crow Residential and Mason is at stake. The land price estimate of about $1 million per acre ($22.96 per sf) for 7.4 acres comes to GlobeSt.com from area land brokers and not from Mason or Crow themselves. The development site is near 10th Street and Monroe Drive in Midtown.

Mason’s representative tells GlobeSt.com the developer has asked for a face-to-face meeting with the ADA and “looks forward to working together with Mayor (Shirley) Franklin and the city council to improve the quality of life for our citizens, manage our growth effectively and, at the same time, expand our green space and transportation choices.”

Mason’s request for a meeting was prompted by the ADA’s initial recommendations that call for green space and not residential development on the two acres Mason’s company, Northeast Atlanta Beltline Group LLC, has contracted to sell to Crow near Piedmont Park. Crow plans to develop an estimated $250-million, 750-unit condominium community in 38-story and 39-story towers on the 7.4-acre site, as GlobeSt.com previously reported.

Mason’s holding company owns a 73-acre tract on the 4.5 miles of railroad corridor land purchased in December 2004 from Norfolk Southern Corp. for an estimated $25 million, as GlobeSt.com previously reported. The city and the Atlanta Develop Authority plan to fund the $2.7 billion redevelopment with the creation of a tax allocation district—a funding instrument that some local observers believe will leave many taxpayers overly subsidizing the Beltline project.

Michael Dudich, an Atlanta entrepreneur and former human resources executive at General Electric Co. for 12 years, tells GlobeSt.com, “The picture that is being painted is that everyone is lining up in support of the project and that it is being done with complete transparency.”

Dudich says, “In fact, the neighborhoods, although supportive of the concept of parks and transit, have raised serious concerns that the TAD funding mechanism leaves taxpayers exposed to foot the bill for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollar, in incremental city service demands for the 28,000 housing units that are anticipated just in the northeast corridor.”

Dudich says the tax allocation district “does not provide any incremental monies to the general fund. This is something you won’t find noted in any press release, as it is the nasty little secret about TADs.”

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