The Atlanta City Council voted 12-3 at its June 6 meeting to transfer the Bobby Jones Golf Course in Buckhead to the state. City council members Yolanda Adrean, Mary Norwood and Felicia Moore were the lone holdouts in the vote. Opponents and proponents of the transaction spoke during the lengthy public comment portion of the meeting.
In return, the state will “land swap” part of the old World of Coca-Cola property and a parking garage next door to Underground Atlanta, which is the final piece of property needed for the city to sell the struggling Downtown mall to a developer who plans to build apartments, a supermarket, retail and restaurants.
Moore attempted to hold the legislation for two weeks and made a motion to send it back to the Executive Finance Committee. Moore said that since the state didn’t send any representatives to a June 3 public meeting to answer city and residents’ questions, the legislation should be held until answers were forthcoming. Her motion was not successful.
The council actually voted on an amended ordinance sent over by the state, which was outlined by city attorney Robin Shahar, who reminded the council and public that the state could simply come and take the golf course without any negotiations at all. The state indicated its investment in the golf course will exceed $25 million, which includes transforming the course from 18-holes to a reversible 9-hole course, adding driving ranges for public and college team use, a Bobby Jones Museum and a new structure to house the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, offices of the Georgia State Golf Association and Georgia PGA. The state said it would lease back the Bitsy Grant Tennis Center to the city for 20 years and the city would also get an easement for multi-purpose paths through the park, including PATH and the Atlanta BeltLine.
Mayor Kasim Reed spoke at the meeting and reiterated that the transaction was best for the city and community. “When this is all said and done, this will be the best golf facility in the region and state of Georgia,” Reed said.
He also promised the deal would not “fly out the door” and said the city council’s vote would give him authorization to negotiate better terms with the state. He again acknowledged that the renovation of the golf course from 18 to 9 holes was controversial, but many were in favor including the family of the park’s namesake.
City Councilmember Yolanda Adrean said she would keep fighting for the terms demanded by the community and said Reed could expect to see her in his office as the process continued.
City Councilmember Kwanza Hall said he was optimistic about the deal. “The state won’t do anything less than stellar at that site,” he said.