Perry, who built the 60-acre Tyler Perry Studios near Greenbriar Mall in south Fulton, seeks another 300 acres at the East Point decommissioned army base, which still belongs to the U.S. Department of Defense, at a reported $100,000 per acre.
Earlier this month, calls and email messages to authority staff and board members and Perry’s publicist about other media reports were not returned or elicited “no comment” responses.
But during a property conveyance update last week at the authority’s community engagement subcommittee meeting on the base, Perry’s name was dropped 33 times, more if counting the studio’s previous code name of “Project Coltrane.”
Outgoing authority Executive Director Jack Sprott gave an update he called Plan B after learning members of the press were at the meeting, talking about the creation of up to 6,000 studio jobs and what the authority will do for the homeless community on the remaining property. But committee member Dianese Howard, representing the Venetian Hills community, objected to “the rumor mill” having details of the studio deal before the subcommittee did. “It’s really frustrating to hear you can’t talk about certain things. We don’t know what’s going on,” she said.
Steve Williams of the Capitol View community called for more transparency and alleged a “conspiracy theory” in the website’s publication of April 17 minutes but nothing more current, even after the Perry rumors surfaced in June.
Authority board member and Atlanta City Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd said the deal is still being negotiated.
“You don’t come out openly in public until you have something in your hand,” she said. Sheperd and Sprott confirmed later in the meeting the authority board voted unanimously to enter negotiations at its June meeting and expressed surprise that those meeting minutes were not posted on the authority’s website, www.mcphersondevelopment.com.
Williams also said the jobs Perry will create will favor out-of-town union workers and not community members.
Attendee Matt Garbett of the Adair Park community, who said his friends called the deal, “Madea Joins the Army,” said he wanted the base’s historic buildings protected from Perry.
“We need to make sure that while he’s here, he’s a good steward of this property. If there’s a movie where Madea burns an old house down, [its destruction] is possible,” Garbett said. Garbett also said “Perry could decide to retire” and close the studio.
In his update, Sprott also broached the topic of a lawsuit filed by Ubiquitous Entertainment to stop the deal, alleging violation of a prior commitment to another studio. “We have not been served papers,” he said. “I’m not ignoring you on that subject but obviously we can’t discuss it.”