Southwest Connector Trail

Bicyclists ride the Southwest Connector Trail at the grand opening ceremony.

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The Atlanta BeltLine

Where Atlanta Comes Together. Learn more

 
 
Funding

How the Atlanta BeltLine is Funded

The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive transportation and economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs currently underway in the United States. The plan for the Atlanta BeltLine includes the introduction of a 22-mile transit system, 33-mile trail network, 1,300 acres of new and 700 acres of restored greenspace, public art, historic preservation, 28,000 new and 5,600 affordable housing units, 30,000 permanent and 48,000 construction jobs, and up to $20 billion in total projected economic development. Learn more.

But how is this sustainable redevelopment project along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting 45 neighborhoods directly to each other actually paid for? Read these FAQs to learn more.

How long will it take to complete the Atlanta BeltLine and how much will it cost?

The Atlanta BeltLine is scheduled to be complete in 2030 at a total cost of $4.8 billion.

How is the Atlanta BeltLine funded?

Major capital investments like the Atlanta BeltLine require diverse funding sources. The Strategic Implementation Plan adopted in 2013 lays out a framework for how the project will be funded through a mix of public and private sources – including the Atlanta BeltLine Tax Allocation District (TAD), the City of Atlanta, private investment and philanthropic contributions, county, regional, state and federal grants, and public private partnerships.

How has the Atlanta BeltLine been funded to date?

Approximately $400 million from multiple public and private sources has been invested since 2006 to implement the Atlanta BeltLine and deliver tangible results – including 7 miles of new permanent trails, 200 acres of new and renewed parks and greenspaces, over 70 acres of remediated brownfields, and new and diverse affordable housing opportunities.

Atlanta BeltLine Funding Sources to Date*:

 

Atlanta BeltLine Funding Chart

What can the various funding sources be used for?

The Bonds and Tax Allocation District (TAD) funds are the most flexible sources and can be used for a variety of programmatic and general management needs in addition to planning and capital improvement projects. They often serve as required match funding to secure grants from other sources. All other funding sources are secured and restricted for specific planning and capital improvement projects such as land acquisition, park and trail development, streetscape improvements, affordable housing and transit. They cannot be used for purposes other than those specified in the grant.

What is the economic impact of the Atlanta BeltLine?

The Atlanta BeltLine has generated a direct economic impact of more than $2.4 billion dollars in private development. This is six times greater than the total public/private investment of $400 million to date.

How does the Atlanta BeltLine benefit residents?

The Atlanta BeltLine is transforming neighborhoods and residents’ lives with new green space, mobility and affordable housing options and opportunities. In the process, it is creating the opportunity for healthier and more economically prosperous lives. Atlantans are gaining greater access to employment centers, fresh foods, and healthcare. As the project is being implemented, programming in its new public realm includes new arts, cultural, fitness and other activities.

When was the Atlanta BeltLine TAD created? By whom?

The Atlanta City Council voted in 2004 to create the Atlanta BeltLine Tax Allocation District (TAD) to fund the Atlanta BeltLine, which had received overwhelming community support. In 2005, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and the Atlanta Public Schools also voted to participate as investors in the Atlanta BeltLine, forming a joint redevelopment initiative of the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County. As partners, they assumed all of the risks and potential rewards in the development of the Atlanta BeltLine when they agreed to participate in the TAD.

How does the Atlanta BeltLine TAD work?

When it was created, most properties along the proposed Atlanta Beltline were underutilized and generated marginal tax revenue. Atlanta Public Schools, the City of Atlanta and Fulton County agreed to forego future property tax revenue increases on these properties over the next 25 years and dedicate them to building out the Atlanta BeltLine. As new Atlanta BeltLine investments take place, those once underutilized properties increase in value and generate more tax revenue – which is used to secure bond funding that pays for more Atlanta BeltLine investments. Building more of the Atlanta BeltLine generates more development which generates even more tax revenue. At the end of the 25-year TAD, the Atlanta BeltLine is projected to increase the tax value by $20 billion dollars, which will benefit Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County and the City of Atlanta for many years to come.

How was the original Atlanta BeltLine TAD funding structure created?

Rather than forego its full share of future property tax revenue increases during the 25-year TAD, the Atlanta Public Schools negotiated to receive fixed cash payments from the Atlanta BeltLine TAD. These payments totaled $150 million – or 5% of the total $3 billion in projected tax revenues expected to be generated over the life of the Atlanta BeltLine TAD. Payments were intentionally deferred during the first five years of the TAD to accelerate Atlanta BeltLine development, and the 5% was scheduled to be paid out at an annual fixed payment of $7.5 million per year during years 6-25.

Fulton County negotiated to receive much smaller payments of $1.35 million per year during years 6-25. The City of Atlanta did not negotiate to receive any payments.

How much tax revenue has the Atlanta BeltLine TAD generated?  How has that revenue been allocated between the funding partners?

The Atlanta BeltLine TAD has generated $124 million since its creation in 2005. Of this increment, APS has collected $28 million or greater than 20% of the total. Fulton County has received payments totaling $5.4 million from the Atlanta BeltLine TAD. The City of Atlanta has not received any payments from the Atlanta BeltLine TAD.

 

The chart below shows the year-by-year distribution from the Atlanta BeltLine TAD:

TAD Increment Distribution

Has the original Atlanta BeltLine TAD agreement been amended?

The original agreement with Fulton County and the City of Atlanta has not been amended.  The agreement with Atlanta Public Schools was amended in August 2009 and again in November 2009.

What is the current Atlanta BeltLine TAD agreement between the funding partners?

The original agreement with Fulton County and the City of Atlanta remains intact.

In 2009, the Atlanta BeltLine TAD agreement with Atlanta Public Schools was amended. The first payment to Atlanta Public Schools was postponed to 2013 and the payment schedule was modified. The first payment of $1.95 million has been made. Subsequent payments have been suspended due to ongoing negotiations.

How much revenue is the Atlanta BeltLine TAD projected to generate?

In 2005 – as part of the Atlanta BeltLine Redevelopment Plan – Huntley & Associates originally projected the Atlanta BeltLine TAD would generate approximately $3 billion in tax revenue over its 25-year life.

In 2012, following the Great Recession – and as part of the development of the Strategic Implementation Plan – MuniCap completed a revised TAD projection that indicated the TAD was no longer going to achieve the original 2005 projection of $3 billion, but instead would approach $1.4 billion for the remainder of the life of the TAD (2012-2030).

Since then, MuniCap makes only five-year projections of Atlanta BeltLine TAD revenue.  As of February 2015, Atlanta Beltline TAD revenue for 2015-2019 is projected to be $123.3 million.

The below chart shows the changes in Tax Increment Projections:

Atlanta BeltLine Projection Comparison Chart

Can the Atlanta BeltLine continue with the current agreement?

No. In 2005, economists projected that the Atlanta BeltLine TAD would generate $3 billion in incremental property tax revenue over 25 years. But then the Great Recession hit. By 2012, the projected property tax revenue dramatically decreased to between $1 billion and $1.4 billion. According to the original projection, TAD revenues in 2014 would be $47 million. But actual TAD revenues in 2014 were only $18 million. All those TAD funds are required to pay bondholders, are committed as local match to capital improvement projects currently underway, and are paying program and project management expenses required to implement the Atlanta BeltLine. If the $6.75 million annual payment is made to the Atlanta Public Schools, all money for operations will be gone, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. will be shut down, and there will be no expansion of the Atlanta BeltLine to new neighborhoods.

What if there is not enough money from the Atlanta BeltLine TAD to make the payments to Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County?

The agreement with Atlanta Public Schools as amended in November 2009 specifies that if there is not enough tax increment revenue from the Atlanta BeltLine TAD to make the payments, then Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County should be paid proportionately from whatever Atlanta BeltLine TAD revenue is remaining after making annual bond payments.  The agreement with Fulton County adopted in 2005 does not specify what happens if there is not sufficient tax increment revenue from the Atlanta BeltLine TAD to make the payments.

Can I read the agreements between the funding partners myself?


Additional Financial Reporting

Annual Audited Financials

Annual Reports