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Sometimes money does grow on trees

Washington Post - January 6, 2011
...Today we must act again to transform our cities. The commercial real estate binge of the past decade and the growth of online shopping as an alternative to brick-and-mortar stores have left more than 200,000 acres of vacant retail, office and industrial space... Beginning with Atlanta, Georgia Tech is researching what is needed to accomplish this in 12 major cities. The project is known as Red Fields to Green Fields. Under this plan, some of the abandoned or underutilized property would be acquired by a parks agency or by public-private partnerships, which would then begin demolition, park design and construction, putting people to work immediately. More jobs would come as the improved areas attracted development... Georgia Tech's analysis has also shown that the money needed for a nationwide program would be a tiny fraction of current real estate support programs, such as the Fed's "quantitative easing" or its recent purchase of $1.5 trillion in mortgages.The documentary "The Olmsted Legacy," which will air on WHUT-Channel 32 Saturday at 10 p.m., and are funding the Red Fields to Green Fields research at Georgia Tech.


Putting the green back into Atlanta’s parks and green space

Tom Salyers, executive director of Park Pride, discusses Atlanta's vital need for more greenspace. While noting recent successes, such as Centennial Olympic Park and the planned Beltline, he emphasizes that this is just the beginning. Much more needs to be done to revitalize the city of Atlanta and its citizens.


Journal Constitution Interview with Mike Messner

Michael Messner, a 1976 Georgia Tech Civil Engineering graduate, grew up in Atlanta and remembers the city before it morphed into a metropolis. Since 1995, Messner has been a partner in the hedge fund Seminole Capital, managing more than $1 billion in assets.

Now Messner is trying to reclaim land spoiled, in a way, by the financial industry – commercial property that is overbuilt and vacant, worth less than its loans.

He and his wife Jenny are funding “Redfields to Greenfields,” Georgia Tech led research to study converting these properties “in the red” into green space plus raw land to hold for development after the economy rebounds.


Quarry to be Centerpiece of Atlanta Beltline Park

One of the parks in particular will impact the City in more ways than one. This 300 acre park on the west side will be three times the size of Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Aside from its size, another feature of this park is its centerpiece, a former granite mining facility known as the Bellwood Quarry. This quarry is to be filled with 2.4 billion gallons of water and will serve as a water reservoir for Atlanta. Having a back-up supply of water will reduce Atlanta’s dependence on Lake Lanier and would also supply the City with a 30-day water supply in the face of drought.


Atlanta BeltLine Expected to Create 30,000+ Jobs

Years of planning are finally paying off for Atlanta as pieces of the BeltLine are becoming more than just design concepts and blueprints. The 22-mile loop around the city, which will use old rail lines to connect people with restaurants, retail, parks, and walkways, can help revitalize Atlanta’s economy by creating over 30,000 jobs and promoting business growth in and around the Beltline. With employment in Georgia hovering around 10%, putting people to work is and will remain a priority for the foreseeable future.


Elizabeth Warren on the next real estate crisis

The Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010 is on its way to President Obama's desk, as just this week it was passed by the Senate following years of debate. This act, which aims to protect America's consumers from questionable financial service practices, would also create a new regulatory agency.

In this interview, Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, talks about the second impending foreclosure crisis of this Great Recession, saying that "by the end of this year, commercial real estate will have dropped in value between forty and fifty percent from its peak a few years back."

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