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Atlanta Council Member: Despite Growth, City Still Needs Incentives

Atlanta City Council Member Joyce Sheperd (right) discusses the need for tax incentives on a Bisnow panel that included McCraney Property Co. CEO Steven McCraney, Third & Urban co-founder Hank Farmer, INCO Industrial Group partner Scott Davis and Georgia State Properties Commission Deputy Executive Director Frank Smith

Despite Atlanta hitting a high-water mark on economic development activity and luring in new companies and jobs, city officials believe they still need to rely on incentives for an edge.

“This city is still really dependent on incentives,” Atlanta City Council Member Joyce Sheperd said during Bisnow's recent Construction and Development event. “The Gulch could not have happened without some incentives.”

Sheperd referred to the $1.9B incentive package recently approved by the city for CIM Group to redevelop the parking lot in Downtown Atlanta, known as the Gulch, into a mixed-use destination. The package, which has been met by much contention, is the largest ever in the city's history.

While the city has seen a boom in construction, that benefit has been unevenly spread. Midtown has taken the crown of development activity, especially along the Westside, and South Downtown is now getting a lot of attention.

But other areas, such as Sheperd's district, are still underserved by new development and need incentives to encourage developers. Sheperd's district covers areas south of the city along the interstate spine to where it splits again between Interstates 75 and 85.

“In my community, people are always asking me ... why can't we get funding like we have in the Mercedes-Benz area where they have the Westside [tax allocation district]?” she said. 

In her district are two TADs, including the Campbellton Road TAD, but their economic contribution is much smaller than the Westside TAD.

“Until we can actually balance out everything in those areas, we still need incentives,” she said.