Name: Ricardo Jacobs
Facebook: Ricardo (Ricky) Jacobs
- What is your relationship to Fort Mac? I’m the chair of NPU-R, which borders the back end of Fort Mac. I actually used to be stationed here when I was in the military. I work here now at the Veterans Administration. I’m a member of the Fort Mac Community Engagement Subcommittee and a community resident.
- What do you think about the redevelopment of Fort Mac? Initially, I was against the base closure altogether. This base was kind of a key to the whole Army because if the Pentagon went down, this would be the base of operations. But, obviously, with base realignments, you have to go on with it. After being a part of the Community Engagement Subcommittee and listening to a lot of the meetings, that allowed me to understand what they were trying to do with this community. They were very transparent about what they wanted to do. I wanted to see a lot of stuff come into this neighborhood, because this neighborhood has been decimated. With the promise of what’s coming here, that now makes me more excited.
- What excites you most about the redevelopment of Fort Mac? What excites me most is the potential of what can be brought here. It could be the starter for great economic development for this area. It’d allow for property values to go up. Allow for good residential traffic and business traffic to come to the area. People will have more of a variety of places to go. Instead of always having to travel, they could stay at home. It would hopefully increase the tax base for this area too. A lot of people here are stuck below poverty tax base. I would say just take it and roll with it. It also gives the community more of a voice with the Atlanta City government too, because they want to develop this area as well.
- What would you most like to see happen with the redevelopment of Fort Mac? It’s great what Tyler Perry is doing over there. He has his original studios in my NPU. It’s been great that he’s been there, but, this, I believe, will be a lot more open to the public. I understand he won’t be able to show everything, but people will get to see more. With that said, I would like to see some sort of a film museum. I’d also like to see a grocery store and other places where people can go and shop. And not only shop, but places to eat and places to walk. A little bit of everything. It’s 475 acres. It’s a lot. You can do a lot with this area. It would be great to also see options for seniors and kids. You want the traffic. Once Fort McPherson closed, a lot of that traffic was gone. It got rid of a lot of the stuff going down Lee Street as well. We need some of that stuff. We want the traffic. A lot of people say they don’t want the Atlanta traffic. Being from New York City, this is good traffic. I would like to see stores, like a Home Depot. A movie theater. A rec center. Walking and bicycle paths. It’d be nice.
- Is there anything else you would like to say about Fort Mac? I’m optimistic about what’s hopefully going to happen here.
- How has your involvement helped to change your perspective of the project? You have a golf course that was here and rarely utilized. Only, at the time, military used the golf course. This was a great resource and now it’s being used. You also, of course, have the history. You want to maintain some of the history of Fort McPherson itself and help people understand what was here initially. There’s a lot of history that people don’t know about Fort McPherson. They just know that the Fort was here, but they don’t know how it got started.
- Has your perception of the process changed? I have faith in the city working with the community to put something together, as long as the community speaks up and the city listens. Also, the Redevelopment Authority has always been transparent. That’s the one thing I’ve always liked about the whole process. They’ve always told everybody what’s going on. They’ve always said, “We’re not going to sell you a bowl of dreams. We’re telling you what this is right now, and what we’re looking for, and we have room to change.” It’s there, but it’ll be able to morph into something. That’s the good thing. They’re planning for that. They’re not just planning for something concrete. Initially the community was looking for something concrete. But they would’ve ended up with a lot of empty rooms, just like our Magic Johnson movie theater.
- For those who are not as engaged as you are, is there anything you would encourage them to do? Anything you’d like for them to know? Listen and try to get involved. Try to understand. Not everything is going to be clear to everybody. But if you listen and do your own research, you can understand what’s going on, and it makes a more informed citizen. I just try to inform the citizens of what’s going on.