News Briefs: Shopping center burns; small business fees; Piedmont Road widening

An overheated dryer caused a fire that ripped through the Ansley II shopping center on Monroe Drive on Monday afternoon, according to a report from WSB. The fire gutted the dry cleaning businesses and damaged other businesses in the shopping center, including a barber shop and nail salon.

An ordinance by District 11 Councilmember Keisha Lance Bottoms that proposes to waive fees for small businesses that open in or relocate to underserved areas was approved by the Atlanta City Council on Monday. The legislation authorizes the Chief Financial Officer to waive all occupational certificate taxes and fees not to exceed five years for small business owners wishing to spur redevelopment in city of Atlanta areas that have historically suffered from disinvestment. Small businesses are defined in the legislation as those with less than $1 million in gross annual receipts. An underserved area is defined as a commercially zoned property, found in the 2016 Less Developed Census Tract as defined by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs as being the areas with the 1) highest unemployment rate, 2) lowest per capita income, and 3) highest percentage of residents whose incomes are below the poverty level; and within a census tract that has a job density of less than 17,930 per square mile as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau’s OnTheMap report. If signed by Mayor Kasim Reed, the legislation would go into effect Jan.1, 2018. Businesses interested in joining the program must apply for the new business license at the City of Atlanta’s Office of Revenue.

The Buckhead Community Improvement District has issued request for bids from developers for the Piedmont Road widening project, which would attempt to alleviate congestion on one of the road’s most heavily-trafficked areas. A half-mile stretch of Piedmont Road between Peachtree and Lenox roads will be widened to allow an additional lane in each direction. There are currently five lanes on Piedmont Road, two in each direction and center turn lane. The widening would bring the total number of lanes up to seven. The project is estimated to cost nearly $25 million and take 18 months to complete. About $17 million of the total cost would be used to buy right of way needed to widen the road. Read more at Reporter Newspapers.

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