The City of Atlanta is one step closer to closing the sale of Underground Atlanta.
It was standing room only Thursday morning when the board of directors of Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development authority, approved a master plan of Underground Atlanta by South Carolina developer WRS Inc. This means the city can now close the deal, which is planned by the end of the month.
The WRS plan outlines 2,189 additional new parking spaces, retail space, a hotel and a grocery store.
Some community members at the meeting urged the board to not approve the plan. They said the deal hasn't been transparent and hasn't included public comment.
"In this deal, I do not see the neighborhood voice represented. I see the opposite," said Lauren Welsh, who is running for the District 2 seat on the Atlanta City Council. "I ask you to please go back and listen to neighborhood voices . . . . and please consider a public hearing."
Mayor Kasim Reed argued there had been plenty of opportunity for public input, citing 25 different public meetings since March 2014.
A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, believes the sale is good for the city.
"In 50 years, we've had no one except the city of Atlanta who's made a major capital investment in Underground," Robinson said. "Luckily, WRS appeared on our doorstep a few years back and luckily we're at this point."
Bill Bozarth, the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board's representative on Invest Atlanta, was the only board member to oppose the approval.