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Another intown mini-city?

The closing of Fort McPherson could mean intown Atlanta gets another walkable mini-city located right next to a MARTA line.

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With its 18-hole golf course, grocery stores, library, mini-mall, 102 housing units, and 2.2 million-square-feet of office, retail and residential space, the fated Army base off Langford Parkway in southwest Atlanta has all the makings of a mixed-use development — one almost three times the size of the 138-acre Atlantic Station. Smart growth advocates and some city planners are giddy about the possibility of redeveloping the fort.

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"Fort McPherson provides the opportunity to create an example of the future city," says Bryan Hager, director of the Sierra Club's smart growth campaign and one of the advocates asking the city to redevelop the base into a mixed-use community.

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But Peggy McCormick, director of economic development at the Atlanta Development Authority, says it's too early to say what's going to happen to the property.

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While the city is considering how it would redevelop the fort, a string of other departments and agencies also will have the opportunity to bid on the 488-acre property. Federal agencies get first dibs.

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So far, no federal agency has expressed interest in the land. (Last month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency indicated it will bid on portions of Fort Gillem, also slated for closure, located in Forest Park.) But a major state institution, Georgia State University, has piped up, says Fred Bryant, deputy executive director of the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee. And the state is next in line after the feds.

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Byrant says the Army is seeking fair market value for Fort McPherson. The land could sell for as much as $200,000 an acre, according to Matt Gove, editor of Atlanta Property News.

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The purchase of the property, whether by GSU, the city or some other entity, likely will be at least a year away. President Bush and Congress have to approve Fort McPherson's closure first. The Army then has six years to vacate, though Bryant says some buildings and parcels could be leased or sold sooner than that.



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