The president and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., Paul Morris, will step down from his position, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced in a statement Aug. 23.
Morris has served as CEO since June 2013 and he will officially step down Sept. 11. During his tenure, Morris facilitated the opening of the Eastside Trail Gateway in August 2014 and lead the construction of the Westside Trail, which will open in late September, according to the release.
When asked if the leadership change could affect planning for the proposed Northeast Trail, which would enter Buckhead near the I-85 border, Ericka Davis, ABI’s director of communications, said it is too early to comment on the affect the change could have on specific projects. However, ABI is not aware of any changes to the BeltLine’s overall implementation plan, Davis said.
In a statement, Morris said he is thankful for the opportunity to serve as CEO and is confident the BeltLine will continue to “transform the lives and quality of life for everybody in Atlanta.”
“I have been extraordinarily honored and humbled by the opportunity I have had over the last 4 years to have worked for this project. I have been gratified to have been able to work with a great group of people who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the BeltLine and who have made significant strides in its progress,” Morris said. “I am confident that the BeltLine will continue to significantly transform the lives and quality of life for everybody in Atlanta.”
His resignation comes after a July Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation found ABI is behind on its goal to create 5,600 affordable workforce housing units by 2030.
Mayor Reed thanked Morris for his service as CEO in a statement.
“Under his leadership, the BeltLine activated a $43 million extension of the Westside Trail and Eastside Trail southern extension, adding over four miles to the project, and became the most visited attraction in the City of Atlanta with 1.4 million annual visitors. I am proud of Paul’s accomplishments and I wish him the best as he embarks on the next chapter of his career,” Mayor Reed said.
The ABI board voted to replace Morris with Brian McGowan, a principal with the global law firm Dentons where he focuses on global economic development initiatives. He led Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, in 2011. McGowan also previously served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, according to the release.
“This is the most important project in Atlanta because it gives us an opportunity that no other city has – a way to comprehensively address affordability and economic mobility,” McGowan said. “I look forward to working with the community to refocus the BeltLine on its original vision of bringing Atlanta together towards a truly global and economically inclusive city,” he said in a press release.