52 Acres Near Chattahoochee River Protected (GA)

Fulton County, GA, 8/9/04: Fulton County recently purchased a scenic riverfront property filled with mixed hardwoods and pines within the floodplain of the Chattahoochee River greenway. The county plans to preserve the 52-acre tract (formerly known as the Hodges tract) as greenspace with passive recreation, such as a biking and hiking trail system along the river. The county used part of its Georgia Community Greenspace grant monies to fund the acquisition.

“We’re really pleased that Fulton County is permanently protecting this tract,” says Chris Deming, project manager for the Trust for Public Land. “Because of the generosity of M.D. Hodges Enterprises and the Hodges family, we were able to convey this land to the county for a fraction of its fair market value.”

Deming goes on to say, “We actually acquired this property eight years ago as part of our conservation vision along the Chattahoochee River. The idea was to transfer it to the county at some point in time. Funding from the Georgia Community Greenspace Program finally made it possible.”

M.D. Hodges Enterprises, Inc. is an affiliate of Blackstone Real Estate Advisors, a global real estate investment and management firm with $6.8 billion in direct property investments, real estate securities and interests in real estate operating companies through three private equity funds sponsored by The Blackstone Group L.P. It has expansive holdings in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

“We’re really delighted to have played a small part in preserving a piece of the county’s natural history,” says Jeff Small, president of M.D. Hodges Enterprises. “The Chattahoochee and its surrounding river lands are not only great natural resources, but they are such a large part of our cultural heritage. The river helped defined who we were and continues to play an important part in our everyday lives.”

Small continues, “From our perspective, the business community is beginning to realize the importance of preserving greenspace, particularly along our river corridors, and what it means to be responsible and responsive stewards of the land. We genuinely believe in what organizations like the Trust for Public Land are doing, and we’d encourage other developers and large landowners along the Chattahoochee to review their portfolios with an eye towards setting aside some of their land for permanent conservation.”

County staff agrees. “We’ve worked successfully with the Trust for Public Land on several different occasions,” says Michelle Macauley, Fulton County Environment and Community Development. “Without their help we might not have been able to preserve some of the more important parcels along the river. This latest acquisition will go a long way towards realizing our goal of preserving valuable greenspace in Fulton County.”

This is the third project that the Trust for Public Land has done on the Chattahoochee River with Fulton County. In April of last year, TPL helped the county acquire 30 acres of riverfront property; and more recently, TPL conveyed the Fountain tract to the county- a tract that had verifiable evidence of early Native American settlements and a structure that is believed to be the oldest house in Fulton County. The Fountain property also contained the remains of Civil War trenches and other culturally and historically significant artifacts.

About TPL: Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate — applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Across the nation, TPL has saved more than 1.9 million acres of land. In Georgia, TPL has helped protect land throughout the state – including nearly 70 miles along the Chattahoochee River. It has also conserved land on Georgia’s coast and rivers, and in urban centers and developing suburban communities. For more information, see www.tpl.org.

About TPL-Georgia’s Chattahoochee River Land Protection Campaign: This riverway initiative was started in the mid 1990’s. The goal of the campaign is to protect central Georgia’s drinking water and provide recreational opportunities by creating a 180-mile greenway along the banks of the Chattahoochee- a greenway that would stretch from Helen to Lake Lanier to Columbus, Georgia. As appreciation of the river’s unique value rises in both public and private circles, the Trust for Public Land, along with its other conservation “partners” (including federal and state environmental leaders, local officials, citizen groups and private land owners), continues to protect endangered lands along the Chattahoochee River. No other natural resource plays such a vital role in the life of so many Georgians, providing drinking water to more than four million people.

To date, more than $160,000,000 has been raised for the Chattahoochee River Protection Initiative and over 70 miles have been protected along the river, representing over 48 separate land acquisition transactions and 13,280 acres. Added to previously existing parkland, over 146 miles of riverbank are now preserved.