Airport area may house improvement region

Emory Morsberger

Emory Morsberger

— Change could be coming to the northwest corner of Clayton County, near the airport’s fifth runway and I-285.

A Lilburn-based community revitalization group is planning to create a CID — community improvement district — in the area around Sullivan Road and Phoenix Boulevard in College Park. The area is currently home to several high-end hotels and business parks wrapped around the southwest corner of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

If the CID is approved by business owners, the Clayton County Commission and the College Park City Council, the businesses would pay an extra property tax that would be used to fund improvements in the area.

“We have talked to a number of owners around the northern part of Clayton County about the idea of starting a community improvement in that area and there is a desire to attempt to move forward this year,” said Morsberger Revitalization owner Emory Morsberger during a presentation to county commissioners Tuesday.

Morsberger plans to ask the Commission and the City Council for approval to join the improvement district by the end of April. Joining the project would include a loan of $100,000 from the Clayton County Development Authority to get a formation group started.

If all sides agree to the proposal, a community improvement district board could be in place by mid-July, Morsberger explained. That board would include representatives from the county and College Park as well as business leaders from the area so all of the parties involved could maintain oversight powers.

Efforts to revitalize the area could include road improvements, blight removal and landscaping.

“The CID would include blight removal, transportation planning and any kind of assistance desired with economic development in July,” Morsberger said.

Such projects can be profitable in bringing in money to revitalize an area extending beyond the district’s borders.

Lilburn loaned a CID in their city $250,000 to get started two and a half years ago, Morsberger explained. He said the intent was to repay the loan over a six-year period, but over half of the loan has already been paid back because the project turned out to be more profitable than expected.

“That CID has brought in well over $3 million worth of grants to improve the Lilburn area,” Morsberger said.

If a CID oversight board is formed, it would be one of the few such projects on the southside of Atlanta.

“There are currently 16 community improvement districts in the metro Atlanta area, almost all of which are north of I-20,” Morsberger said.

A similar district is already being developed along Camp Creek Parkway on the Fulton County side of the county line adjacent to the site of the proposed Clayton County region.

It would be called “Airport West” and it would be separate from the nearby “Aerotropolis” development concept currently being floated around among elected officials and business leaders.

If Clayton County doesn’t agree to the proposal, it could create a situation where revitalization and economic development drifts toward the Fulton County side of the county line rather than being spread out between both counties, Morsberger explained.

“Our goal is for this area to not be left behind,” he added.