Scientific research park planned for fort site

ATLANTA - The state plans to ask the Army for a 115-acre parcel of the closing Fort McPherson base to create a scientific research park, state and local officials announced on Tuesday.

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense voted to close Fort McPherson and more than 180 installations nationwide under the Base Closure and Realignment Commission. The redevelopment plans were due this month and must be implemented by Sept. 15, 2011.

Founded in 1889 as the first permanent Army installation in the Southeast, Fort McPherson is headquarters of the U.S. Army Forces Command, Third U.S. Army and the U.S. Army Reserve Command. The 488-acre military facility is Atlanta's seventh largest employer, where more than 4,200 active duty soldiers, Army Reservists and civilians work.

The proposed research park is part of an overall redevelopment plan for the base that was approved on Tuesday by the McPherson Planning Local Redevelopment Authority and will be formally submitted to the U.S. Army and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by Sept. 22.

State and local officials said the addition of a scientific research park to the redevelopment plan would enhance the value of the remaining parcels of the Fort McPherson site to be sold by the Army. The state is asking for the parcel planned for the research park for no cost.

If approved by the Army, the research park will be developed by a task force including the Board of Regents, governmental entities and private partners, and would be modeled on research parks formed in conjunction with such institutions as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Princeton Forrestral Center in New Jersey and the Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

The plan also calls for the creation of 150 acres of green space, with 30 acres set aside for a festival and event grounds. The site could also feature up to 4,600 homes, 4 million square feet of office space and 400,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.