A brand new neighborhood is to start opening by year end in the greater Cascade community.
Fort McPherson is on schedule to close Sept. 15. Then the long process will begin for transferring 488-acre site from military to civilian use.
The plan is to keep some portions of the fort functioning immediately after the Army vacates the land, according to Jack Sprott, who oversees Fort McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority, the state authority charged with converting the fort.
The golf course is to remain open and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will maintain a clinic, Sprott said. Both credit unions also are to stay open.
The fence and gates will remain for the time being, he said. The goal is to secure and maintain the buildings and property that have been a military installation since 1885.
Ultimately, the Fort McPherson land will come under complete jurisdiction of the city of Atlanta. The process of closing the base calls for the military and the authority to negotiate the price of various portions of the land and buildings. The authority will sell property to individuals or companies that will develop various projects.
Fire and police protection will be provided by the city.
The public will help provide money to pay the estimated $70 million to build roads and sewers in the new community. Here’s how:
- The redevelopment authority can raise money by selling bonds;
- The city can provide a portion of property taxes that are collected on new developments in the Campbellton Road Tax Allocation District.
This summer, the Atlanta City Council is slated to zone the entire property for the uses outlined in a master plan, Sprott said. The plan has been devised and approved by a board that’s comprised of local and state officials, and representatives of businesses including Georgia Power.
Felker Ward serves as chairman of the authority. Ward is a principal with Pinnacle Investment Advisors. He is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and a member of 100 Black Men of Atlanta.
The redevelopment plan calls for the following particulars:
- 4 million square feet of office and labs;
- 400,000 square feet of retail;
- 2,600 homes.
The entire site is to be developed through this broad vision:
- The centerpiece is to be a linear park established along the path of the existing golf course;
- A 30-acre event space that could accommodate the Dogwood Festival and other such public gatherings;
- Residential communities are to be established in the northern and western areas.
- The big old homes in the northeast corner, which are on the National Register of Historic Places, will be sold to individuals;
- A bio science research center is to be established in conjunction with the state in the eastern area;
- High density mixed use projects are to be developed in the southeast area.
The base closure will have dozens of effects on the communities around the fort. Some are known and some will become apparent over time.
“Closing a military base has an effect on a community,” Sprott said.
“But in 10 years," he said, "we’d hope to create 5,000 jobs here, and 10,000 jobs at build-out in 25 to 30 years.”
Retired Brigadier General Phil Browning Jr. was stationed at Fort McPherson for a total of two years, from 1989 to 1992. Browning remembered many of his colleagues at the base interacted regularly with the community surrounding the base.
Browning said he himself had little contact with the adjacent communities because he lives south of Atlanta and commuted to and from his job at the base – much like any corporate executive who may not spend much time in the neighborhood around the office complex.
“The small number of children who lived on the base went to local schools,” Browning said. “And I know that many people at lunchtime would go off the base to local establishments and eat. I didn’t, because for my whole life I’ve brought my lunch to work because of the money I’d save.”