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Neighborhoods search for ways to spend stadium windfall

6:02 AM, Oct 24, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Pastor Dexter Johnson runs a church in Vine City -- the uneasy neighborhood across the street from the Georgia Dome. And he has a wish list.

"Job training workforce, business incubator..." He reads from a pile of paper he holds, prepared as part of his effort to help find ways to spend a $30 million windfill that the new Falcons stadium is making available to adjacent neighborhoods.

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Vine City and English Avenue are two neighborhoods that have endured more than their share of urban blight. The community development money spilling over from the new stadium project is intended to attack that.

"We've begun to lay the framework of what these impacted communities would like to see," Johnson said.

But that framework has been slow to develop -- in part because there are so many problems in Vine City and English Avenue, and an array of ideas about how piles of money might fix them. Pastor Johnson runs the Vine City civic association. He's trying to help build a consensus -- and work within a budget.

"We all know that the pile of money that is being shared right now or is being put on the table is not enough," Johnson said. "But it is a start." Johnson expects the Falcons and the city of Atlanta to supplement the $30 million.

There is an urgency to finding answers. The Falcons want to break ground on the new stadium next spring. But they can't begin to spend any public money on construction until after these neighborhood development questions are answered. Chief among them: How to spend the windfall.

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