Atlanta Journal Constitution Op-Ed by Council President & CEO Michael Paris

This op-ed was published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution in conjunction with an op-ed by Atlanta Beltline President & CEO Paul Morris. The feature highlighted the importance of smart growth in the Metro Atlanta region. To read both pieces together, click here.
“Infrastructure Investment Pays Off”
by Michael Paris

Construction cranes dot the metro Atlanta landscape once again, representing investment in development and redevelopment in our communities. Supporting each is a foundation of infrastructure that was years – often decades – in the making.

From the region’s Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) inside the Perimeter and out, from Atlanta to Cobb to Perimeter and Gwinnett, every story of progress begins with master planning and continues with public-private collaboration to realize increased walkability, transportation mobility, transit accessibility and more greenspace. Many communities in less urban settings have made similar strategic commitments. The results include improved areas in which jobs and other economic opportunity are being created.

Data abounds: The Perimeter CIDs have invested $146 million of combined public and private funding in transportation infrastructure improvements, realizing a return on investment of 4.7 to 1. More than $1 billion in private redevelopment has been spurred by roughly $350 million of infrastructure investment along the Atlanta Beltline from public and private sources. More than half a billion dollars of investment in the Cumberland CIDs has improved quality of life and doubled or tripled commercial and residential real estate values. The Town Center CID has leveraged $30 million of income into more than $133 million worth of valuable improvements in its district. Meanwhile, the Gwinnett Place CID not only yields approximately eight dollars in return on investment for every dollar invested, facilitating the construction of the Metro region’s second Diverging Diamond Interchange among other critical improvements.

Similarly, our local government’s investments through SPLOSTS, TADS and redevelopment efforts are paying great dividends.

As bookends to our north, Cobb and Gwinnett have invested $3.6 billion in SPLOST funds over the past 30 years on transportation improvements and quality of life projects. The $68 million redevelopment bond recently approved by the citizens of Marietta will allow the City to buy aging apartment complexes on Franklin Road and sell them to private developers for redevelopment – a move that will attract businesses and jobs to Marietta in a prime real estate location.

The common thread throughout these success stories, which stretch across our region, is the vision of creating infrastructure that supports both commercial and residential development resulting in job creation and attractive lifestyle opportunities. The CIDs and the Atlanta Beltline have demonstrated that companies seek established places to invest for their future. We see these companies’ investments drawn to places where a sense of confidence and certainty is underpinned by long-term partnerships between the business community and local government.

The metro Atlanta region offers a variety of working and living environments from intown to the suburbs, and it is important that we continue to pursue what’s right for each market – and recognize that one size doesn’t fit all. But the facts are clear that attention to infrastructure in all categories yields success. The investments illustrated in the region’s major nodes can be mirrored throughout metro Atlanta at the appropriate scale to enhance those communities and fit their individual needs.

We have more work to do for sure, but we should be very proud of our successes to date. Every time we carefully invest in our infrastructure, the return to our economy is positive. We need to tie together regionally the positive steps we’ve taken with mobility investment in particular and take advantage of our recovering economy today, sustaining our region for decades to come.