By: LaKeisha Fleming
The City of College Park and Mayor Jack Longino are no strangers to change. Working as Mayor for over 20 years, Longino has seen a lot of transformation, particularly with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Some people have expressed concerns about encroachment upon space, inconveniences to residents, or even noise disruptions. Longino, however, sees the big picture, and the incredible value the airport brings to his constituents.
“I’ve said for years you have to continue to work with Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson to have things happen out here. We have to figure out how to mix in with their growth, and I think we’ve done a great job with that.”
Now a part of the progressive Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, Longino and his city excitedly embrace the change that is making them one of the leading movers and shakers south of the airport. Longino serves on the Board of Directors of Aerotropolis Atlanta. The organization, made up of business and community leaders, is striving to make the airport and its surrounding areas a coveted destination, filled with restaurants, shops, and entertainment. College Park will be a huge beneficiary of the newly created Airport City. In addition to all the attractions, there will be transportation from the airport into College Park.
“Being able to get to that station was huge to development because now all of the people coming out of the airport to the car rental facility have an opportunity to stay with us,” Longino tells. “Our occupation in the hotels is running higher than anybody else in the region,” he explains. Visitors will also be able to take advantage of the Gateway Center at College Park. “That’s about a $42 million total facility and it will give us some new tools to rent at the convention center. We’ll see concerts, sporting events and graduations,” Longino states.
An additional draw to this behemoth will be the Atlanta Hawks G League Team as the facility’s destination anchor tenant. Seating will accommodate 3500 for sporting events and 5000 for concerts and convocations.
“This facility is the second largest convention facility in the state of Georgia. It has the largest ballroom in the state,” Longino notes.
Expected to be ready in the Fall of 2019, the Gateway Center will be a huge boom for visitors to the city looking for activities. It also represents an amazing opportunity for College Park residents, potentially providing hundreds of jobs. Area residents will benefit from this economic thrust. While excited about offerings for visitors, Longino is just as passionate about what opportunities like this can do for College Park residents.
“I hope that what we’re developing and what we’re doing will be the tone set for this entire region. We will one day see this as a massive city like you see in the northern regions.” Longino continues, “You’ll see big office buildings down here and you’ll see corporate businesses down here.” College Park welcomes all aspects of this growth. “I think College Park has some of the greatest residential opportunities for corporate America anywhere in the world. We’re friendly and we’d love for corporate America to do business with us.” The city is economically sound, taking advantage of development. “I think the economic timing is right,” Longino explains. The tax burden of development will also benefit the city. “It’s going to come back on the tax rolls and will begin to put new tax dollars into the city of College Park’s coffers.” He adds, “It’s exciting to know that … College Park is going to be financially sound for generations to come.”
Longino feels privileged to be a part of the effort of making progress happen. “That has to do with great leadership. It’s not just me, it’s a whole team. I can’t do it by myself. I do it with (City) council and staff. It takes all of us to make that work.”
Longino concludes, “I’m all for great growth in this region, because I think when you have great growth you have great things to happen. I’m glad to be a small part of that.”