Councilmember Joyce Sheperd introduces ordinance to lease land to Atlanta Police Foundation to build training facility

ATLANTA — During the last regular city council meeting on Mon., June 7, Councilmember Joyce Sheperd introduced an ordinance authorizing Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to lease approximately 381 acres of city property to the Atlanta Police Foundation (APF) for the purposes of building a new training campus. The ordinance was filed as a personal paper with the Office of the Municipal Clerk in the City of Atlanta.

According to the ordinance, the property will be leased in exchange for an annual rate of $10, along with infrastructure improvements (or construction), with a lease term not to exceed 50 years. The ground lease will “provide that the city will be able to have input or approval on stages of the construction along with development of the property” and will allow waiving of certain code requirements.

Property located at 561 Key Rd. SE, 3054 Fayetteville Road, and 3184 Fayetteville Rd are included in Ordinance 21-O-0367. Photo credit: DeKalb Tax Commissioner website.

A 2017 APF presentation lists the total project estimate at $80.6 million. The city and APF have not revealed the exact cost of this facility, and it is currently unclear what the final cost for this development will be or who will ultimately be responsible for it. However, the One Atlanta Community Policing Roadmap presentation from last April states the city will “leverage taxpayer assets.”

Cost estimates as presented by the Atlanta Police Foundation. Source: The Atlanta Police Foundation.

In her State of the City address on March 31, Mayor Bottoms said, “We’re also committed to working with our philanthropic and corporate partners to build a new public safety training facility for our police officers and fire department to ensure that they get top-notch training in a well-equipped facility.” 

The next day, the Atlanta Committee for Progress—a “public-private” partnership with more than 40 members from major Atlanta companies like the Coca-Cola Company and Cox Enterprises, Inc.—released a statement to support Bottoms’ plan for new facility to “design and build a new, state-of-the-art public safety training academy through a public/private partnership with the Atlanta Police Foundation and the city’s philanthropic community.” Despite the facility being touted as a “public safety training facility” for rescue services, it is clear that APF is a central figure in this development from which APD will be the primary benefactor.

A 2019 rendering of the proposed facility. Source: Atlanta Police Foundation presentation via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Advocates of Defend the Atlanta Forest, a major proponent group opposing this development, argue that this facility will destroy vital green space. Their website states, “Atlanta is a city in a forest. We have the highest percentage of tree canopy of any major metropolitan area in America. Our canopy is the main factor in ensuring Atlanta’s resiliency in the face of climate change. The forest in Southeast Atlanta is home to wetlands that filter rainwater and prevent flooding. It is also one of the last breeding grounds for many amphibians in the region, as well as an important migration site for wading birds.”

The ordinance will be up for consideration at the next finance executive meeting on Wed., June 16. We will continue to report on this facility development as it makes its way through the council.

Atlanta’s municipal elections, which includes all seats for city council and the mayor’s office, take place this November. The Georgia General Assembly elections take place in the fall of 2022. Stay tuned for more resources and coverage from us ahead of these elections. Subscribe to our newsletter here to stay connected.

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