Article by Development Magazine’s Contributing Writers, Forrest Robinsion and David Welch.

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A closed Army base south of Atlanta is being transformed into a state-of-the-art logistics campus.

ROBINSON WEEKS Partners is spearheading the development of Gillem Logistics Center on the site of the former Fort Gillem Army Base. The 1,168-acre master-planned logistics center can accommodate more than 8 million square feet of e-commerce fulfillment centers and distribution facilities. Gillem Logistics Center offers unparalleled access, a strategic location and multiyear tax incentives, providing a unique opportunity for companies looking to enhance their logistics networks.

After more than 10 years — from conception to groundbreaking — of planning and bringing together various stakeholders at each step of the redevelopment process, Robinson Weeks and the surrounding community are excited to make this world-class logistics hub a reality.

History and Land Transfer

Named for Lt. Gen. Alvan C. Gillem Jr., Fort Gillem opened in 1941 and was home to the First U.S. Army, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and a number of other federal agencies and organizations. In 2005, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) recommended and the U.S. Congress approved the closure of Fort Gillem. Six years later, 1,168 acres of the base’s total 1,427 acres were closed and declared surplus.The Army is retaining the remaining 259-acre enclave, which still houses its Criminal Investigation Crime Lab.

In 2007, Forest Park Development Partners LLC, a partnership between Robinson Weeks Partners and Starwood Capital, was named master developer for the property. The partnership’s original charge was to assist the City of Forest Park Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA) with the process established by the BRAC Commission to demonstrate that the local community had the strategy, means and capabilities necessary to redevelop Fort Gillem. Robinson Weeks led the effort to establish an economically viable master plan, business plan and implementation progam. The key goal of these plans was to generate new jobs to replace the 1,500 jobs that were lost when the base closed.

Over the ensuing seven years, the URA submitted numerous required applications, including a comprehensive reuse plan, a business plan and an economic development conveyance (EDC) application to the Army to support the redevelopment plan. The Army formally approved the EDC application in 2013, which allowed and approved the transfer of Fort Gillem to the URA.

Nearly 800 acres of Fort Gillem officially transferred from the Department of the Army to the URA in June 2014. The remaining property will transfer in phases over the next few years. The URA took title to the property fee simple from the Army and negotiated terms to make payments totaling $30 million over seven years.

As soon as the first land transfer was complete, the URA and Forest Park Development Partners sold more than 250 acres to the Kroger Co. for a regional distribution campus. The proceeds from the Kroger sale allowed the URA to make its initial payment to the Army and to issue bonds to fund new infrastructure, including a four-lane divided parkway and new utilities.

Catalyzing Additional Development

Gillem Logistics Center is also expected to become a catalyst for more new development in Forest Park and Atlanta’s entire southside. The community is excited to see the project move into the construction phase, bringing the city and the region one step closer to the new jobs and additional revenue that will come as a result of this distribution park.

“It is good to see this property being able to be used for other purposes,” said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal at the center’s groundbreaking ceremony. “It is the beginning of what hopefully are many other opportunities for development [that] will follow.”