Gerald McDowell – Executive Director of Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement District

Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) is comprised of two community improvement districts: The Airport West Community Improvement District (CID) and The Airport South Community Improvement District (CID). Meet Gerald McDowell, the Executive Director of Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs. His primary role is to manage the day-today operations for the overall CIDs. He is also responsible for forming the necessary relationships with jurisdictions, municipalities, elected officials, economic development professionals, and community stakeholders in order to identify the projects that will help transform the airport area and make it attractive for developers and investors.

“Our primary focus is to have the necessary infrastructure in place that will support new development and revitalization such as transportation improvements (roads, bridges, sidewalks and the interstate system), water and sewage, streetscapes, landscaping and public safety. Having these components in place are important for development and investments to occur,” McDowell added.

Historically, the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance has been the driving force behind the revitalization of the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport area since its formation in 2014. The Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance was birthed from discussions between a group of airport area stakeholders and the Atlanta Regional Commission on how to position the airport for improvements and future investments. From those discussions, The Atlanta Area Taskforce was formed and the Taskforce then decided to form Aerotropolis Atlanta.

The footprint of the Alliance encompasses two counties mainly — Fulton County and Clayton County — and a small portion of DeKalb County, along with 10 cities: Fairburn, Union City, Riverdale, Morrow, Lake City, Forest Park, College Park, Hapeville, East Point and City of Atlanta. In 2014, The Airport West Community Improvement District (CID), Fulton County side was formed and in 2015, The Airport South Community Improvement District (CID), Clayton County side was formed. In the latter part of 2015, the two CIDs decided to come together under one umbrella and in January 2016, a new name was created and it was called Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs.

“The initial objective of forming these CIDs was to have this entity or tool that would help spur economic development and revitalization around the airport area,” said McDowell. Major partners include Fulton County, Clayton County, City of Atlanta, College Park, East Point and Hapeville.
In addition, the CIDs partner with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), South Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, the Airport Chamber of Commerce, and development authorities for both counties.

According to McDowell, GDOT has awarded the CIDs with two Quick Response Grants of $200,000 each for the Buffington Road exits, which includes an additional turn lane to the exit ramp and an additional turn lane to the ingress ramp.

The third project is to create a runaround on the bridge for the Buffington Road exit. This project is scheduled for completion within the next 60 days. The total worth of all three Buffington Road exit projects for this year is approximately $500,000. In addition, The CIDs have received approval from GDOT for a $21 million road widening and bridge-widening project for Buffington Road from U.S. 29 to the Red Oak Quarry that will start in 2019.

In November 2016, Kimley-Horn, a consulting firm hired by the CIDs, will produce a strategic plan identifying various projects for the CIDs to consider pursuing over the next five years.

Learn more about the CIDs’ plans for beautification, public safety and transportation improvement strategies in the next issue of the Atlanta Business Journal Magazine part 2 series.