FOREST PARK — Forest Park Mayor Angelyne Butler announced the city has inked a deal with an unnamed four-star hotel and a film studio during a “State of the City“ address that mixed church, state and commerce.
Speaking to a crowd of about 150 supporters, city employees and elected officials from other jurisdictions at the First Baptist Church of Forest Park, Butler exhorted the crowd to put aside their personal and political differences for the good of the community as a whole.
Citing a nondisclosure agreement, Butler said she could not name the hotel company, but that it is a 110-room, “four-star“ hotel with conference space and 6,000 square feet of retail space that will go up on the old Bank of America drive-up site on Main Street and that the Jasber Group, which is heading up Main Street’s redevelopment, was involved in the plan.
In addition, Butler said that a Hollywood film studio is moving into Gillem Logistics Center, bringing 300 jobs per production. Representatives of the studio who were present told the News that they are occupying the historic buildings near the front of the base and that further site preparation is underway nearby.
Butler said a third unnamed “major company“ at Gillem is set to add 400 jobs.
Noting that the city had lost 2,500 jobs when Fort Gillem was shut down during the Base Realignment and Closure, Butler said the city has created 1,500 jobs and is well on its way to replacing the full 2,500 within a five-year window.
Butler also said the city stands to bring in $16 million in additional tax revenue, which would go to redesigning Starr Park, revitalizing Main Street and implementing Forest Park’s master plan.
Citing an October 2018 story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that placed Forest Park on a list of Georgia’s worst places to raise a family, Butler said she and Clayton County School Superintendent Morcease Beasley had “submitted a response.” Butler added that the Forest Park Class of 2019 had the county’s highest number of high school graduates, plus $8 million in scholarships.
The speech comes as real estate prices countywide are on the rise. Butler said the city would “offer incentives for homeowners who take intentional steps“ to improve their property value. She also called for better rental properties and new developments so that all residents can afford “the quality standard of living they deserve.”
Among those present were City Manager Angela Redding; Councilmembers Kimberly James and Allan Mears; City Finance Director Ken Thompson; Police Chief Nathaniel Clark; Public Works Director Jeff Eady; Recreation and Leisure Services Director Elaine Corley; Clayton County Commission Chair Jeff Turner; BOC District 4 Commissioner DeMont Davis; Union City Mayor Vince Williams; Development Authority of Clayton County Executive Director Khalfani Stephens; newly-appointed DACC member Regina Deloach; Forest Park Ministers Association founder Dr. Leon Beeler; community activists Sparkle Adams and LaWanda Folami; and Morrow City Clerk and Ward 4 City Council candidate Yasmin Julio.
Among the speakers was longtime First Baptist Church member Frank Brandon, who also has served as city manager and on the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority and Development Authority boards both during and after the Gillem deal. Butler said if she and Brandon could be so politically different yet come together for the good of the city, anyone could.
The event included prayers, presentation of the colors, musical numbers, and a uniformed ROTC member escorting speakers up and down the stairs to the pulpit. Butler repeatedly called on different segments of the community, using the refrain, “Can we go together?“ until the crowd erupted in applause and a standing ovation.