Mountain View contract to go forward

By Justin Boron

Clayton County commissioners and re-development officials cleared up any confusion Thursday that could have delayed the approval of a contract with its development partner Childress Klein for the Mountain View Redevelopment project.

Acceptance of the contract, which is scheduled for Tuesday's commission meeting, is a crucial step toward construction on the project because it begins the property acquisition process in the area east of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, said Lou Hisel, a board member of the Clayton County Re-Development Authority.

At the meeting, the Re-Development Authority and the Board of Commissioners discussed whether an outdated plan for the project would throw a twist into the contract, which stipulates that the developer comply with the redevelopment plan.

A plan from 2000 included a Ford training center on the project. After the Ford development fell through, the plan was not officially changed.

Some commissioners said they worried the new plan would need to be adopted before the county took on Childress Klein as its partner.

But Emory Brock, director of economic development, said it would be best to amend the plan six months from now, after the contract has been accepted, so that Childress Klein could give its input.

Emphatic about the need to approve the contract, Hisel said, "Time is of the essence."

The agreement gives Childress Klein a portion of the 100 acres of property the county will acquire from the city of Atlanta in an option to purchase agreement that exchanges the property for a 9,000-space parking lot intended for the airport, he said.

The urgency to approve the agreement stems from the 180 days the purchase agreement gives the city of Atlanta to decide where the parking lot will be built once the contract is approved, Hisel said.

The six months combined Childress Klein's due diligence period could significantly delay construction if the agreement with the developer is not approved, he said.

"We want to start that clock ticking," Hisel said of the 180 days.

The location of the parking lot adds another layer of complexity to plans that are hinged on dozens of contingencies.

Where the airport decides to place the parking lot is a linchpin in the redevelopment plans, Brock said.

The airport is investigating the placement of a lot on Lee's Mill Road, which is completely out of the range of the project, he said.

A lot on Lee's Mill Road could flatten efforts to construct mixed-use buildings, hotels, and a people mover from the airport's planned east terminal, he said.

"You can't build a people mover down there, that's for sure," Brock said.

Without the lot, Mountain View Redevelopment would be reduced to industrial-type construction, he said.

That is something Commissioner Carl Rhodenizer said he will not let happen though, noting Childress Klein's record of quality development on projects like the Cobb Galleria on the Northside of metro Atlanta.

"It's the last big tract of land we've got," Rhodenizer said. "I want to make sure we get quality stuff up there."