Atlanta BeltLine Selects New Chief Executive

Jun 12, 2013

The BeltLine board selected Paul Morris as its new chief executive.

The Atlanta BeltLine today selected a new permanent chief executive. 

The position hasn’t been filled since the project’s last CEO was forced to resign amid questions of inappropriate spending.

The BeltLine board has selected Paul Morris to lead the 25-year, $3 billion redevelopment project.

Morris most recently served as deputy transit secretary for North Carolina’s Transportation Department. Before that, he worked with consulting and investment firms mostly in Charlotte and Portland, Oregon.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is a BeltLine board member. In a statement, Reed touted Morris’ 30 years of transportation and urban development experience.

Gus Tulloss worked with Morris as a board member of the North Carolina DOT. He said the entire board had tremendous respect for Morris.

“Very, very confident person, very low-key but when he would speak it was very obvious he had done his homework. He had a very unique talent I thought at being able to explain as simple as we needed it or as complicated as somebody may want it.”

Morris beat out three in-town finalists, including the BeltLine’s interim CEO and Mayor Reed’s senior transportation advisor.

Some local transit activists like Morris’ North Carolina connections. Recently, President Obama tapped Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the next U.S. Transportation Secretary.

"Given the importance of federal funds to BeltLine funding, any connections we can make with the source of those federal funds is important," said east Atlanta resident Ronald Lall, a previous chair to the Atlanta Planning Advisory Board, which helped draft the original BeltLine ordinance.

“The railways are governed purely through federal legislation so you’re dealing with another sort of federal-type situation here when you’re trying to acquire any right-of-way, so it’s not just on the funding side that it’s important to have those federal connections, it’s also on the implementation side,”  said Lall.

No word yet on Morris’s start date or contract terms.

Last year, the BeltLine ousted then-CEO Brian Leary after a newspaper story revealed staffers spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on several elaborate retreats and other smaller expenses.