With a temporary brand name selected, the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance is now looking to add some corporate heft behind its efforts to craft a strategy for development around Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The “alliance” moniker was adopted at the March 1 meeting of what was previously known as the Atlanta Airport Area Task Force, a group of stakeholders who since last year have been working to create the go-to entity for promoting the airport area.
In a draft brochure released at the meeting, the alliance said it hoped to bring together “major businesses and property owners around the airport; local, regional and state elected officials; colleges, universities and other nonprofits.”
The prevailing sentiment at the meeting was that the effort had reached a tipping point, especially since corporations like Delta Air Lines Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. sent representatives for the first time. Airport General Manager Louis Miller was also on hand.
The Atlanta Regional Commission, which has taken the reins on the effort thus far, sees private-sector participation as essential to its sustainability. The task force has been evaluating public-private frameworks other communities have used to spur development, including Partnership Gwinnett and Progress Partners in north Fulton County.
The Global Cities Initiative to be held March 20 in Atlanta provided an opportunity to engage corporate leaders who have so far been absent from the table, said Jon Tuley, a planner who has been helping lead the task force at the ARC.
The one-day forum March 20 is to include Mayor Kasim Reed and other city and corporate leaders in closed-door discussions about airport-area development. Richard Daley, former mayor of Chicago and an architect of that city’s airport plan, is chairing the initiative, which is organized by the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.
Mr. Tuley said the alliance planned to unveil finalized brochures showcasing the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance to attendees. The event was both a “soft launch” of the new working brand and a foretaste of the smaller executive committee the ARC hopes will lead the alliance into the future.
“It’s a first step; we’re not going to conquer everything but hopefully it will be a good catalyzing moment,” Mr. Tuley said, noting that the task force would continue its quarterly meetings and could eventually break up into specialized committees.
Delta couldn’t send any executives to the Global Cities discussion, and Coke is still trying to figure out the best person, but representatives of Porsche, Siemens, Prologis and Duke Realty were slated to attend, among others. Dave Watson, president of the Atlanta Commercial Board of Realtors, who has spoken out about the need to spruce up the corridor between the airport and downtown, is also on the list, Mr. Tuley said.
As with any regional development organization, questions remain for the alliance: How will it be funded? Will disparate jurisdictions be able to work together on a common vision? Who will have seats at the table?
The group has explored many of these issues during quarterly meetings, but it will likely fall on the executive committee – whatever form that eventually takes – to make the final decisions.
“A lot of this year is just trying to figure out which way is up and how does this thing move,” Mr. Tuley said.
Mr. Miller, the airport general manager, has expressed his backing for the effort and the need for continued collaboration. He noted that because of its land shortage, the Atlanta airport can’t create an airport city on its own grounds, nor does it have the authority to actively drive development “outside the fence.”
Still, Porsche executives have said the airport was key to bringing stakeholders together when the German automaker was looking to buy an “impossible” piece of land falling under multiple jurisdictions at the Aerotropolis Atlanta development.