Toro Calls Alpharetta Insular and Parochial

The Brandon Beach supported bill that would have added a 1/2 penny tax and would have run MARTA rail north to Alpharetta, had it been matched with federal funds, is dead.  Never even made it to the floor down at the Georgia capitol.

My favorite best-dressed businessman, Mark Toro, who is vested in north Fulton and would benefit from MARTA rail, is playing the blame game for this failure.  While not naming names, he told WSB-TV news reporter Mike Patchenik:

“Call it NIMBY-ism, class-ism, parochial-ism…the fact is, that kind of insular thinking is no longer competitive.” – referring to either north Fulton residents in general or political leaders specifically.


Mark Toro is afraid of no longer being competitive.

What’s soon to be less competitive and certainly overbuilt are mixed-use developments.  And Toro knows this.  They don’t call him smart money for nothing. Not only is retail doing poorly at Avalon, brick and mortar stores everywhere are doing poorly.  And so, one huge component of mixed-use developments is sagging and flagging.  What’s more, Atlanta’s apartment market is pricing out the Millennials, the very component mixed-use is designed to draw.  The market will make adjustments for this.  Either rents will come down, and investors will absorb the loss, OR incomes will rise (really?)  OR you just made a huge stupid bet on apartments.

North American Properties wants out of the retail/apartment side of Avalon in Alpharetta and has put it on the market.  MARTA rail sure would sweeten that listing.  As for the Phase II side – the convention center and hotel, North American is still committed.  And MARTA rail would go a long way to sweeten this side of things as well.

And so, we understand from this a little better the war of words between Mark Toro and city leaders in Alpharetta.  Sure, Toro is selling his own book, but can you blame him?  He’s the one on the hook for Avalon, Phase I and II.  He can call Alpharetta NIMBY, parochial and more.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s his leadership and business strategy that brought NAP to Alpharetta.  And now, he’s on the hook.  Oh, it’s a gentle hook right now.  Alpharetta is one of the hottest real estate markets in the  metro.  So, MARTA or no MARTA, Alpharetta is a desirable place to be.  That won’t change.

City leaders in Alpharetta and Johns Creek know that rapid rail is an inevitability.  Indeed, I’d say they are planning on it.  And Mayor Belle Isle of Alpharetta, whom I have criticized endlessly for being pro-density, has surprised me by doing the most un-density loving thing he could have done:   he opposed MARTA rail in the sloppy, blind-sided, opaque, un-justified form in which it was presented by Brandon Beach.  Rather, he said, lets take a look at this and make it better.

Beach can do this if he tries.   MARTA rail needs to come to north Fulton county.  But if Beach is the one to bring it, he’ll have to stop pandering to special interest groups, developers and the like, and instead will actually have to run the numbers.   North Fulton doesn’t oppose MARTA rail just for the sake of opposing MARTA rail. However, north Fulton leaders can read and do math and this excuse for a bill that Beach presented, is where it should be – dead.



7 Replies to “Toro Calls Alpharetta Insular and Parochial”

  1. The huge sales tax increase was being pushed hard by a few politicians and their special interests. There is big money to be made, $ billions, so the few but vocal MARTA supporters will use every threat and intimidation to make a MARTA vote happen in November.

    Mark Toro was a hero in Alpharetta for developing Avalon. It is sad for him to spew his racist remarks against North Fulton leaders and residents. Alpharetta and North Fulton are diverse, international communities whether measured by the census or by walking around our area. Racist rants are used when they cannot find facts to promote their agenda.

    The facts are that MARTA will not solve the traffic problem because only 3-7% of commuters can ever use MARTA, yet it consumes most of our county’s transportation dollars.

    Does MARTA need state funding? No. MARTA is already one of the most heavily subsidized mass transit systems in the country, subsidizied by Fulton, Dekalb and Clayton sales taxes. Last time I looked, every MARTA trip was subsidized 75% by taxpayers, 25% by fares. State funding or higher sales taxes will only make the subsidy increase.

    Roads and cars represent more than 90% of all trips compared to 3% for MARTA. There is a demand for roads, so common sense would say to BUILD MORE ROADS!

  2. Toro isn’t using logic. He built a “work/live mixed use” community so that people don’t have to commute in a pseudo suburb (I call it that because Alpharetta has jobs; it’s not a sleepy commuter town). Very few people I know work or even go downtown. Majority of people that live in alpharetta/JC work in the area. You can’t have it both ways when you built a live/work/retail community.

  3. If you bring Marta all the way up to Windward Parkway, then even the thought of Milton County is flushed. Marta allows residents in Alpharetta the chance to get to 2 places. Phillips/ GA Dome and the airport.

    And when my company told me I could take a town car to the airport now I ride Marta to 1 place only!

    If Marta wants to come up here they should build out their lousy infrastructure here first where they are. Then brag about the ease of getting around.

    I would never run Marta all the way to windward parkway because forsyth county residents don’t need to be done the biggest favor of us all. They would get the ease of access AND they wouldn’t have to pay for it every time they bought something.

    When will we find Republican candidates who actually support lowering a tax rate! Thank goodness John Albers had some sense.

    1. Ben, MARTA rail does go to the Arts Center station in midtown, Five Points downtown, and other “business-concentrated” places. I say this to clarify your first point. I don’t think it’s seen as “just” a ride to the airport or to the Dome. The question is how many people WILL take MARTA to their jobs downtown, midtown, Perimeter, etc. But, Mayor Belle Isle did actually address this question in his piece posted on Jim Gilvin’s website ( It is a good read.
      One more thing Ben. I disagree vehemently with letting this MARTA rail issue be reduced to Democrats vs Republicans. It will only polarize further an already polarized issue.

  4. Well there are a lot of Republicans who need to run for the state senate to stifle the public transportation, gambling, horse racing initiatives of the aforementioned state senator beach.
    I have lived around atlanta for years. I have never heard someone say I can’t wait to ride marta to the arts center station.
    If marta give us a servicese product inside the city. I am all ears. But by and large they have wasted a penny for fulton county consumers for decades!

    1. I couldn’t agree more that more citizens should run for public service – whether that be Republican or Democrat. To your 2nd point, although I’ve never heard anyone say “I can’t wait to ride to the Arts Center Station” nevertheless, people do it because they have jobs and need to get to work. Also, midtown is quickly becoming a tech hub – as Mark Toro has pointed out again and again and also the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The Arts Center Station serves midtown. I would also agree with you that MARTA has wasted far too many of my pennies – and yours. But I am for public transportation. MARTA needs to be re-thought, re-bought and re-wrought. It CAN work for Atlantans – indeed, it has to.

  5. I really hope this live/work idea takes off with this next generation and each community in greater Atlanta has their own pocket of jobs and good schools. I can’t stand commuting. If we find ourselves with jobs downtown, we would downsize and move downtown. His whole 1960s idea of commuting is stupid. If you can, Live where you work. It’s best for the environment, your health, and your stress level. Kids and family want your time. Not extra square footage.

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