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CAP's Jennifer Ball promotes downtown development

July 11,2014

From www.bizjournals.com

While other metro Atlanta areas have undergone extensive revitalization in recent years, development downtown has lagged behind. But Jennifer Ball, vice president of planning and economic development for Central Atlanta Progress, is doing her best to change that.

Ball has worked for Central Atlanta Progress (CAP), a nonprofit organization boosting downtown development, in some capacity for more than 15 years, and her enthusiasm and creativity are helping to bring investment back to the area.

“Jennifer is extremely valuable to the fabric of downtown,” said A.J. Robinson, president of CAP. “She’s had her hand in planning issues, issues involving Auburn Avenue, wayfinding signage — she really knows more about how downtown functions and how the city’s input into downtown works better than anyone.”

Ball recently has helped plan two large residential projects, including Paces Properties Inc.’s purchase of 250 Piedmont for $8.1 million. Paces plans to turn the 20-story office tower, currently vacant, into a 300-plus unit apartment tower.

And in May, Post Properties Inc. proposed a 407-unit project on land it already owns that is adjacent to Centennial Olympic Park. Post wants the project to mimic some of its Midtown projects, such as Post Parkside.

There are more than 800 units planned for downtown, which is more apartment activity than it has seen in almost a decade.

When Mayor Kasim Reed wanted to terminate the Eastside Tax Allocation District to save $5 million, Ball and CAP opposed the measure, because they said the area still needs additional work. They succeeded in their efforts, and the amendment terminating the TAD was withdrawn. With the Atlanta Streetcar becoming operational and investment returning to downtown, the TAD victory came at a good time.

“Jennifer has been very involved in helping developers understand this incentive and partnering with them in Invest Atlanta,” Robinson said, referring to the city of Atlanta economic development authority.

Ball said it’s not about rebranding but rather an attempt to change people’s perception of downtown.

“The reality is that [downtown] has world-class destinations that people love to come to like the aquarium, or the Sun Dial for a special event,” she said. “We also have undiscovered gems, places off the beaten path. There’s a little bit for everybody, and it’s everybody’s neighborhood, right? It sort of belongs to all of us.”