County could make Mountain View a reality

By Justin Boron

The Clayton County Re-Development Authority will consider the acquisition of about 200 acres of property today to shore up the land needed for a revitalization project that could bring commuter rail, mixed-use business space, and light industrial development to the north Clayton area.

The property acquisition is one of the preliminary steps in bringing to fruition the third and most ornate phase of the Mountain View Redevelopment project, which dates back to 1992, said Emory Brock, the director of economic development for Clayton County.

Two previous phases include the unfinished Atlanta Tradeport and the Industrial Development International project south of Interstate 285, he said.

The current phase of the project aspires to construct the Southern Crescent Transportation Service Center, a multi-modal transportation hub, to support the planned east terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and to attract new business.

The hub would integrate bus, rail, and auto to serve passengers leaving the airport and commuters heading into the city.

Roland Downing, the chairman for the Re-Development Authority, said in addition to the improved aesthetics, the project also will bring a new financial source to the county.

"We're anxious to see this move forward and we're going to do all that we can to move it forward," he said. "It will certainly increase the tax base."

But filled with contingencies, the plans' interdependency threatens to put at risk the project as a whole.

Both the multi-modal hub and the east terminal will require each other to succeed. Likewise, the anticipated new business also relies on the completion of airport and transportation projects as well, Brock said.

At the foot of all the contingencies is an option-to-purchase agreement with the city of Atlanta that the seven-member, Re-development Authority may execute today and thereby acquire 94 acres of the property for the project.

The agreement stipulates that the county must create 9,000 parking spaces with the property.

County Commissioner Carl Rhodenizer said there are plans to build three parking decks to satisfy the airport's parking requirement.

The land saved through parking decks could be used on other parts of the revitalization project, he said.

At least one of the parking decks would have a station for the commuter rail set to begin service from Lovejoy in Sept. 2006, Rhodenizer said.

The other 100 acres would be acquired from numerous private landowners whose claim to the property can be traced as far back as the 1800s, Brock said.

"All of that property has to be assembled," he said. "It's not going to be an easy task."

In an effort to smooth the road toward completing its compost of projects, the Re-Development Authority will select a development partner that would coordinate projects and assist with property acquisition, he said.

"One of the tricks in re-development is getting the private sector involved because they ultimately profit from it," Brock said.

Development officials have narrowed the field of developers to four and will likely choose one next month.

"Hopefully, we can attract a developer with the patience to stick with the project," Brock said.