MARTA’s recent decision to kill its current transit-oriented development project at the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe station does not mean the end for plans to develop the site sometime in the future.
“I don’t think anyone thinks six-and-a-half acres of empty parking lot is the best use of space,” said MARTA Board Chair Robbie Ashe in an interview.
No specific timeline has been set when MARTA will come back to the city, Ashe said.
“We are still digesting what happened,” he said. “We are still thinking through the process of what we went through with all stakeholders and the feedback we received.”
News of the project being discontinued was announced by MARTA board members to the city of Brookhaven Feb. 2 after a vote during its regular meeting.
The city received a statement in an email from Amanda Rhein, Senior Director of Transit Oriented Development and Real Estate at MARTA, saying the MARTA Board of Directors voted Feb. 2 to “cancel the award of the solicitation and discontinue work on the Brookhaven TOD Project.”
“MARTA appreciates the time and effort invested by the community in planning for Brookhaven TOD Project. We are disappointed that we will not be able to advance this project to implementation. MARTA staff will now shift focus to implementing TOD projects at stations where greater readiness exists,” the statement reads.
MARTA cited Ernst’s decision to suspend authorizing tax incentives for the project as well as ongoing delays in getting a vote on its rezoning request for the project as the reason for quitting the project.
“On Tuesday, January 24, the Mayor of the city of Brookhaven, Mr. John Ernst, released a statement regarding the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s (“MARTA”) proposed Brookhaven/Oglethorpe University TOD project (“Brookhaven TOD Project”).
“Mayor Ernst’s statement indicated the city administration’s support for an additional delay in the rezoning of the site. Additionally, Mayor Ernst’s statement indicated that the city administration would suspend all work on the incentive request submitted to the Brookhaven Development Authority. In light of this letter, today, February 2, the MARTA Board of Directors voted to cancel the award of the solicitation and discontinue work on the Brookhaven TOD Project,” according to the statement sent to the city.
Ernst answered in his own statement that more work was needed “to make the development a true City Center.”
“We’re sorry that we had to stop negotiations on the financing of this project. The developer’s ask kept growing and the guarantees on delivery kept shrinking. But we look forward to a public/private partnership that has more private dollars than public,” Ernst said.
Ashe said MARTA officials are welcome to entertaining ideas from the city about future development at the site but also expects to have significant say in the proposals because the land belongs to MARTA.
“Given it is our land, we want a role in selecting the development partners,” he said.