Box 20, Folder 20, Document 8

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x aa May 12, 1967

A regular meeting of the Urban Renewal Policy Committee was held on
Friday, May 12, 1967, at 10:00 A. M. at the Atlanta Housing Authority,

824 Hurt Building.
All members were present as follows:

Mr. Rodney M. Cook, Chairman
Mr. Edwin L. Sterne

Mr. Hugh Pierce

Mr. E. Gregory Griggs

Mr. John M, Flanigen

Mr. George Cotsakis

Mr. Frank Etheridge

Also present were:

Mr. Collier Gladin, Planning Director, City of Atlanta
Mr. George Aldridge, Director, Community Improvement Program
Mr. Jim Kluttz, Atlanta Planning Department
Mr. Robert Sommerville, Executive Director, Atlanta Transit Company
Mr. M. B. Satterfield, Executive Director, Atlanta Housing Authority
Mr. Les Persells, Director of Redevelopment, Atlanta Housing Authority
Mr. Howard Openshaw, Chief, Planning-Engineering Department,
Atlanta Housing Authority
Mr. James Henley, Atlanta Housing Authority
Mr. Byron Attridge and Mr. Lynn Hewes, King & Spalding, Attorneys
Mr. Jack Glenn and Mr, J. B. Blayton, Members, Board of Commissioners,
Atlanta Housing Authority

Chairman Cook called the meeting to order and explained the purpose of

this meeting is to hear a presentation from Alderman Q. V. Williamson relative
to the Rockdale Urban Renewal Project Area, While awaiting his arrival,

the committee considered scheduling of dates for the developer's

presentations on 7.6 acres in the Rawson-Washington Project Area, scheduled
for 221(d)(3) development. It was unanimously decided to hear from all
developers who had submitted bids on Wednesday, May 31, 1967, beginning at
3:00 P. M. It was also agreed that each developer would be given a fifteen
minute presentation period, with fifteen minutes allowed for questions and
answers, Each committee member was presented with a synopsis of each proposal
for review. Mr. Persells also reported that developer's presentations had
been held on Parcel 73 in the University Center Project Area,

At this time, Alderman Williamson arrived at the meeting along with
Senator Leroy R. Johnson and representatives of various Negro organizations,

Chairman Cook stated that a few days ago certain charges were made to

him concerning the Rockdale Project which he felt was of a serious nature
and should be presented to this committee for consideration and disposition
as it sees fit. He then turned the meeting over to Mr. Williamson.

Alderman Williamson stated he had discussed this matter with the Mayor on

Urban Renewal Policy Committee
May 12, 1967 Page 2

Wednesday; that he had also met with members of the Atlanta Summit Leadership
Conference, the NAACP, Operation Breadbasket, Atlanta Voters League and

other organizations that are terribly concerned about urban renewal in Atlanta
because "Negroes have gotten nothing but the brunt of being kicked off the
land"; that they have not been allowed to participate in urban renewal at any
level and have not been allowed jobs nor investments in urban renewal property;
that the only land Negroes have gotten out of urban renewal was land the
colleges bought which "they paid for out of the nose and paid more than anyone
else paid for similar urban renewal land"; that the Wheat Street Baptist
Church is a prime example - they paid twice what the land was worth for the

(d) (3) development they erected on it, to the extent that the project was almost
economically unfeasible.

Mr. Cook stated that some statements already made by Alderman Williamson do
not coincide with the facts and he asked Mr. Persells if he cared to respond.

Senator Johnson asked that they be allowed to state their position, after which
they would be happy to answer any questions or clarify any statements, but

to interrupt with questions during the presentation breaks the continuity of

Mr. Williamson continued to state that after analyzing urban renewal in Atlanta
for the past ten to twelve years, taking into account "what goes on" at the
Atlanta Housing Authority, particularly in public housing, these organizations
wonder if Atlanta shouldn't get out of the urban renewal business; that Atlanta
must let Negroes participate and become a part of urban renewal if it is

to survive. He stated that Negroes also have serious problems with existing
public housing and these organizations also wonder if Negroes wouldn't be
better off living in slums on their own land than in some of the public

housing in Atlanta. He cited the Eagan Homes as an example and briefly
discussed some of the deplorable conditions existing in this project, such as
roach and rodent infestations and the Authority's refusal to exterminate the
premises and denying the tenants the right to do so at their own expense.

He emphasized the city requires private owners to do this. Other problems

he mentioned were that tenants were not allowed to have a telephone extension
upstairs and entry ways to the apartments are recessed and do not have

adequate lighting; a case of rape was cited as being attributable to this.

le stated further that tenants are reluctant to complain for fear of being evicted

by the management; that these tenants, in many instances, rather than live

in this project under bondage, would be better off in slums with freedom.

He went on to say that the case at point is that this is the type of thing
urban renewal and public housing is producing in Atlanta and it must be
stopped. As to the question of Rockdale, he stated that two years ago a
group of Negroes began initial efforts to organize this community and develop
support of area residents for a plan for Rockdale; subsequently, a community
organization was formed and working with the Atlanta Housing Authority,
assembled a proposed plan for Rockdale according to their rules and regulations.
He stated that proposals by three other developers were also submitted, two
of which were later disqualified because they did not abide by the rules of

bidding; however, two weeks later, following a meeting of the Housing Authority's


Urban Renewal Policy Committee
May 12, 1967 Page 3

Board of Commissioners and passage of a resolution by them, these same two

plans were reinstated, notwithstanding their previous disqualifications, and that
this is the basis of their complaint. After this, Mr. Williamson stated it is

his understanding from sources that he can secure information from that the

Housing Authority narrowed the consideration to two top plans - the Douglias-Arlen

and Rosen proposals - and he was told by staff membersof the Authority that both

of them were about equal, but when he receives information that somehow plans can

be reinstated that do not meet the bid proposals of the Authority, then the
Douglas-Arlen group knows they are at a disadvantage; that it is the same old routine
of urban renewal - Negroes aren't allowed to participate because the Douglas-Arlen
group has Negro participation, even though Rockdale is a Negro community and will
serve Negroes. He stated all they are asking is that the plans be judged on merit
and where the Douglas-Arlen plan is as meritorious as any of the others, and Rockdale
being a Negro community, it should be given to Negroes; that if Negroes can't
participate in urban renewal at all levels, then the City Fathers should leave

them in the slums, rather than uproot them and take their property; that the time

has come when he felt this needed to be said publicly.

In reply to questioning by Chairman Cook, Mr. Williamson named the Rosen and
Chruckrow proposals as being the two which were disqualified and then reinstated.
He then called on Senator Johnson to speak.

Mr. Johnson stated he felt this matter was of enough importance and seriousness
that he had interrupted a speaking engagement in California to return to Atlanta
today for this meeting; that because of his absence from the city he had not had

an opportunity to prepare for the meeting as he should have. He then stated "TI
believe with all my heart and soul that we have been discriminated against because
we are Negroes and that if we were not black, we would have been awarded the Rockdale
Project", He then explained that he drew the charter of the Rockdale community
organization and they began working on a plan for the area long before the bidding
was opened; that they were successful in securing a sponsor, builder and

architect and eventually a plan was submitted to the Housing Authority according

to the bid proposals. He stated further that after so doing and while waiting

on a decision, and believing in the operation of democracy, they were informed

that political influence was being used to get the Rosen plan approved; that he
immediately began to investigate and pose questions, among others, as to why the
two proposals which were disqualified were reinstated; that the foremost thought

in the Negroes' minds at this time was "you folks happen to be of the wrong hue

and you are not going to get it"; that they were told by the Housing Authority, as
stated by Alderman Williamson, both proposals were good and assuming this is so,
then he felt it incumbent on the City Fathers to "bend over backwards" to award

the development to a Negro group, composed of Negro architects, lawyers, real estate
brokers and builders, who are locally based and have a vested interest in the heart
of a Negro community and will represent Negro people who were moved from the area
and will probably move back when housing is available, He also noted that Rockdale
is in the heart of his senatorial district and Alderman Williamson's third ward.
Senator Johnson stated further that it greatly disturbs them that on the one hand
they have been told by members of this committee that no decision has been made and

Urban Renewal Policy Committee
May 12, 1967 Page 4

on the other hand he gets a call in California saying the Rosen plan had

already been sent to FHA by the Housing Authority and he submitted this is

a serious matter. He further commented that after talking with members of

FHA and persons already engaged in 221 programs, it is his understanding

that even if their plan was submitted to FHA, it would be altered before

being returned; that you never get plans back from FHA exactly like they are
submitted. He cited as an example the Allen Temple Project. He went on to

say they had also been told Negroes had never built anything this big; that

the time wasn't right and there was a question of the ability of the Union
Baptist Church to administer the project since they had no previous experience.
Senator Johnson stated their position here in the 1960's, whether it is immediately
managing or selling, is to do right; that most of the reasons cited against

their proposal are not meritorious arguments since the project would be Federally
regulated anyway. He again cited Allen Temple as an example. He then concluded
by stating that all they are seeking is "a fair shake of the dice and don't deny
us because we are black"; that they feel there is rank discrimination somewhere
in the Rockdale project and they are asking this committee to right it.

Mr. Cook asked Mr. Johnson who told him they would not get this project because
they were Negroes.

Mr. Johnson replied "Mr. Cook you know that I cannot reveal my source of information
anymore than you could, but as surely as there is a God in Heaven I, and we, have
been told we would not get this project because we are black"", Mr. Johnson did

say that his source of information had the contacts to know whereof he speaks.

At.this time, Chairman Cook and Mr. Gladin excused themselves from the meeting

to keep a previous appointment in the Mayor's office, They did not return during
the remainder of the meeting, although they had hoped to. Mr. Griggs presided

as Chairman during the rest of the meeting.

Reverend Sam Williams then addressed the committee briefly on three points: (1)

that so much time has to be spent by Negroes keeping vigil to see that even token
justice is done; (2) the cruelty of denying Negroes because of historic disabilities
imposed upon them which they themselves did not place upon their shoulders; and

(3) the fact that Negroes should be allowed to share in the financial rewards
flowing from urban renewal. Reverend Williams also stated he was personally
familiar with the Eagan Homes situation because a member of his congregation lived
there and he agreed these things must be corrected,

Reverend Grier, representing Operation Breadbasket and a group of ministers,
and Reverend Dorsey of Operation Breadbasket, both endorsed the remarks of Alderman
Williamson, Senator Johnson and Reverend Williams.

Mr. Griggs assured Messrs. Williamson and Johnson that it is of great concern
to membersof this committee that the charge of racial discrimination in Rockdale
has been made,

Mr. Cotsakis then stated he had to leave the meeting on a previous commitment,
but before departing he stated for the record that in all the meetings of the

Urban Renewal Policy Committee
May 12, 1967 Page 5

Policy Committee he had participated in he had never heard the word Negro
mentioned, nor had he received any indication of racial discrimination
as far as any particular project is concerned.

Senator Johnson commented "you don't have to say the word to do the act".
Mr. Persells then responded to the charges as follows:

As to no participation on the part of Negroes in planning, he stated there was
a considerable period of time when there was little, if any, participation

in urban renewal planning by whites or Negroes; that the planning and action
that went on took place at the official level and the participation of

the community at large was extremely limited; that only within the last two to
four years were people outside of officials really brought into planning

in urban renewal to the extent of actual participation. The first effort at
involving participation on the part of persons living in the project area took
place in the West End Project through a Citizens Advisory Committee, which
still functions. The second effort took place when the Buttermilk Bottoms -
North Avenue Project (which was combined with Bedford-Pine) was initiated; the
citizens residing in the project area formed an organization called "URESCUE"
which, from that day forward, actively and fully participated in every planning
decision affecting the area; that this organization has had a profound

effect on the urban renewal plan for this area and he expected it to continue
to do so.

Mr.-Persells commented further that at some point you have to develop a basis
for discussion; in the case of Rockdale the people were moved, the land cleared
and then came the question of utilization of the land; that it was determined
many years ago that Rockdale would be used for schools, playgrounds and
residences, with an incidental possibility of furnishing a service shopping area
for the 1500 families that would live in the area, The allocation of 1500

units was based on a limitation on sewers, documented by the Sewer Department.
Mr. Persells stated further the initial concept was for single family
residences, however, this was never possible, topographically or financially.

Mr. Persells said further that for a long time prior to this there was, in
Atlanta, a growing consciousness of the importance of good urban design, one
reason being there had been several illustrations of awards made on a flat
dollar system where the redevelopments had not been too good, so it was
ultimately determined that in multi-family developments it would be desirable
to make the offerings at a fixed land price and award the bid based on
competitive design criteria; that a prime reason for this change in policy was
to avoid the type of problem mentioned by Mr. Williamson where Wheat Street
Baptist Church overbid on the land. He stated this was a very unfortunate
situation but could not have been avoided at that time with the existing laws.
In adopting the fixed land price system, Mr. Persells stated an elaborate
procedure was established to insure that awards would be on the basis of
design criteria and not political or other factors. This procedure involved
staff reviews and recommendations, oral presentations by developers and
recommendations from experts in the field of planning, architecture and housing.
Urban Renewal Policy Committee
May 12, 1967 Page 6

This procedure was followed in the case of Rockdale, These recommendations
were then presented to the Urban Renewal Policy Committee who spent in excess
of five hours evaluating the four proposals. The proposals were then presented
to the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority and they discussed

them very carefully, however, no decision has been made by them.

At this point, Mr. Persells commented that no one had attempted to influence
him in this matter or contacted him about it except Mr. Williamson and Mr.
Johnson; that when they visited his office he advised them at that time that
he was a staff member, not a decision or policy maker, and he would be remiss
in his duty if the staff had influence on policy to the extent that it was.
an overriding factor, rather than a recommendation, and such was not the case
with Rockdale,

Mr. Persells commented on the statement that Negroes do not hold responsible
jobs in urban renewal, or they hold low type jobs. He stated this is simply
not an accurate statement; that there are a number of Negro people involved

in urban renewal at high and low levels and their jobs are open for inspection;
that there are vacant jobs which are yet to be filled and when qualified Negro
people can be found, who are willing to accept the job at the salary it carries,
he would personally recommend them for employment.

As to the allegation, by implication or direct statement, that there had been
no previous land purchases involving Negroes and the question of the Negro
colleges paying more for uban renewal land than anyone else, Mr. Persells said
that prior to Rockdale, awards were strictly on the basis of the highest
bidder, with some consideration given to design factors, and he could recall
only two instances when awards were made other than to the high bidder and
these had clear-cut reasons which had nothing to do with the question of race;
that there have been several instances where Negroes have been successful
bidders, for example, Citizens Trust Company; further, at the time the
University Center Urban Renewal Project was being planned, it appeared that

it would be impossible to finance a project of the size desired by the colleges
and so the colleges, in order to make the project feasible and secure the land,
agreed to pay $40,000 an acre; that he had never heard them complain about
this; that Wheat Street Gardens, again, was an unfortunate set of circumstances,
but they related to the time and situation as it was then; that based on his
experience, the Negro colleges would have paid more for the land without

the benefit of the urban renewal project. Mr. Persells did not comment on the
public housing, except to say the things mentioned in regard to Eagan Homes

are not wholly accurate and do not fairly represent the situation as it is.

He then made brief concluding comments on several other points raised by

Messrs. Williamson and Johnson. He stated there had been an assumption made
that the two proposals mentioned (Douglas-Arlen and Rosen) were equal, but he
could assure everyone that when a decision is reached, it will be because the
two were not equal, They had also assumed that the Rosen proposal does

not involve Negro participation, but Mr. Persells stated they might well include
local Negro participation, just as Douglas-Arlen does; that the Rosen group has
agreed to "spin off" portions of the total development, in the same manner as

Urban Renewal Policy Committee
May 12, 1967

the Douglas-Arlen group anticipated spinning off the whole of the project,

to a non-profit organization, however, Rosen was explicit in his desire to
retain control of the development. As to the capability of the Union Baptist
Church to carry out a project of this magnitude, Mr. Persells stated that to

let this be the governing factor in the decision would be wrong; that the
assumption has to be made that such an organization would employ professionally
skilled people who could assist them in management activities. As to the

Rosen proposal being submitted to FHA, Mr. Persells stated it was submitted

to FHA for a preliminary review to determine if it was acceptable to FHA without
having to make major changes; if it had been returned, another proposal would
have been submitted to them; further, it is not accurate to say that plans will
not be developed as submitted to FHA because they will change them; that if this
were true, competitions would not be held; that while minor changes might be
suggested because of topographic conditions or other reasons, it does not mean
the basic concept or layout of the development would be altered.

As to Negroes sharing in the financial rewards of urban renewal, Mr. Persells
stated the bulk of the financial rewards which would accrue to Negroes or whites
would be in the development stage; after the structures are built, it lies

with the continuing management.

Mr. Perselis concluded by saying that he hoped they could continue to operate
without regard to race, creed or color and involve the community as a whole in

planning activities oriented to urban renewal projects; that we should not
condemn ourselves by past mistakes, but profit from them and move forward.

There were then questions and answers.

Mr. Glenn stated he was the newest member of the Board of Commissioners and in
the meetings he had attended race had never been mentioned and to his knowledge
no decision had been made on Rockdale. He pointedly asked "has a decision been
made and was race an issue?" ,

Mr. Griggs stated the Policy Committee had made a recommendation to the
Atlanta Housing Authority and race was not an issue; that no decision has been
made yet by the Authority,

Mr. Pierce stated he would like it clarified about the charge of reinstating
disqualified plans.

Mr. Perselis explained that at no time were any of the four proposals set aside;

that in their initial review of the proposals, which is to determine if they

are in proper order to be accepted, they did discover minor technicalities

in the Rosen and Chruckrow proposals. The Rosen proposal did not submit a

bid bond, nor a total development cost, although sufficient information was

available to arrive at this figure, The Chruckrow proposal failed to meet

the exact specifications with respect to their drawings, however, after consultations
with the Authority's legal counsel, it was felt these were merely minor irregularities
and not sufficient reasons for rejecting the proposals since these irregularities

did not affect any of the design criteria; consequently, the Board of Commissioners,

Urban Renewal Policy Committee
May 12, 1967 Page 8

under the provisions of the offering, waived these irregularities, but up to
this point there was no consideration given to the proposals on the basis of
merit and they were under constant review and still are, As a result of this
situation Mr. Persells stated it was determined that the wording in the offering
was too ambiguous and subsequently an addendum to the offering was made,

setting forth in greater detail the specifications for bidding.

Mr. Pierce asked if any of these exceptions were ever mentioned at the Policy
meetings, to which Mr, Persells answered negatively, explaining that it was

felt this was a responsibility of the Board of Commissioners, whose meetings are
a matter of public record. ,

Mr. Williamson contended that if the Douglas-Arlen group had not "dotted every
"i' and crossed every 't' they would be out of the ball game",

Mr. Johnson stated it was their understanding the Policy Committee would make

a recommendation to the Housing Authority, who would be responsible for making

the final decision, but since a recommendation from the Policy Committee is
tantamount to approval by the Authority, they felt it was their responsibility

to discuss the matter with the Policy Committee and they are here today because
they thought no decision had been made. Mr. Johnson stated further that he

and Mr. Williamson visited Mr. Cook in his office and were told that a decision
had been made by the Policy Committee and Mr. Cook suggested they see Mr, Persells;
that they did visit with Mr. Persells who, in turn, suggested they take the

matter up with the other members of the Policy Committee, resulting in today's
meeting. He also mentioned that when Alderman Cotsakis left the meeting, he said
he would not return to the meeting to vote because this Committee had already made
a recommendation; that if this is the case, then everything said today has been

to no avail. He said further that the Housing Authority permits a laxity of

rules for some and requires others to “toe the mark" and this is where discrimination
begins, He submitted that if the Douglas-Arien group had not submitted a
performance bond, they would have been eliminated,

Mr. Williamson asked when must the Housing Authority publicize its decision.
Mr. Persells stated not later than Monday.

There being no further discussion, Mr. Griggs thanked everyone for appearing and
the Committee then went into Executive Session.

In Executive Session, Mr, Sterne commented that the Policy Committee, after
studying the four proposals very carefully, and after having the benefit of
written recommendations from the experts, did make a recommendation and the
final decision rests with the Housing Authority; that there is some merit to the
statement that generally speaking the Board of Commissioners tends to follow

the recommendation of the Policy Committee; that while he is aware of the
Senator's explanation of the insidious way the race issue comes up, he could
truthfully say it never entered his mind at any of the briefings or meetings he




Urban Renewal Policy Committee
May 12, 1967 Page 9

Mr. Griggs stated he was "dumfounded" when Mr. Williamson and Senator
Johnson came to his office and made the charges they did; that he was
completely unaware of any racial prejudice connected with Rockdale,

Mr. Persells stated the bids were opened legally on March 15 and the

Housing Authority is obligated to reach a decision and notify the successful
bidder within 60 days, after which they have 10 days to sign the contract

In answer to questioning by Mr. Griggs, Mr. Persells stated the Board of
Commissioners will have all four proposals before them at the meeting, with
a favorable recommendation from the Policy Committee on the Rosen proposal.

Mr. Pierce recalled that he had to leave the meeting of April 25, 1967, at
which the four proposals were discussed, prior to its conclusion and at

the time of his departure, advised the Chairman that up to that point, he
favored the Rosen plan, based on the plans he had seen and the recommendations
that had been given it by the various experts; however, he stated that at that
time he was not aware of the exceptions which were made, or the question of
the race issue, and he requested that if the Chairman did vote favorable for
him, that it be stricken from the record.

Mr. Sterne, also being a member of the Board of Commissioners, stated he

wanted to make it clear that the waivers which were granted took place prior

to any hearings and it was afterwards that the detailed presentations were made
on all four proposals.

After other brief discussion, the Acting Chairman stated that if today's
presentations had altered the position of any committee member, he would entertain
a motion to reconsider the matter,

Mr. Pierce so moved and simultaneously moved that the Douglas-Arlen proposal
be approved, These motions died for the lack of a second.

The Acting Chairman then entertained a motion to reaffirm the previous decision
of the committee.

Motion was made and seconded by Messrs. Sterne and Flanigen that acceptance
of the Rosen proposal be reaffirmed, said motion being adopted by majority
vote, with Alderman Pierce voting adversely.

Approved; Respectfully submitted:
(28). A \ ee,
/ r EG? 2 Fie Ne We b A) y
Rodney fepk: Chairman [/ Joanne Parks, Secretary

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