Long before a shovel can break ground for the new Falcons stadium, city officials and community leaders must decide how to divvy up the $30 million the city and team owner Arthur Blank have pledged to neighborhoods most disrupted by the proposed arena.
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Story so far:
March: The Atlanta City Council passes legislation authorizing the use of $200 million in hotel-motel taxes to partially finance the construction of a new Falcons stadium.
April: Talks begin with two churches that sit on the preferred southern site of the new stadium.
July: Invest Atlanta begins formal meetings with community leaders to devise a plan to spend $30 million in funds pledged to English Avenue, Vine City and Castleberry Hill neighborhoods.
This week: Two days before the Aug. 1 deadline to reach a deal with the churches, the Falcons inform city officials the south site is not feasible and announce plans to pursue the north site for the project. And Thursday, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority said it walked away from negotiations with Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, effectively killing the south site deal.
About the $30 million:
When the Atlanta City Council approved legislation to use $200 million in hotel-motel taxes for stadium construction, it also passed a resolution requiring Invest Atlanta to facilitate development of a community benefits package. The series of meetings are geared toward devising ways to address environmental, traffic, public safety and related concerns and also how to spend $30 million pledged to the communities impacted by the stadium.
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has pledged $15 million to the affected communities, monies that are directed toward human services, such as job programs, parks, educational efforts and more. The Blank foundation will accept recommendations from the Invest Atlanta community meetings, but organizations must ultimately apply to the Blank foundation to be awarded any funds.
Another $15 million will come from the city’s Westside tax allocation district community improvement fund for economic development purposes. Those dollars can only be spent in the Westside TAD, thus excluding the Castleberry Hill neighborhood from the funds.