Atlanta BeltLine CEO Paul Morris is stepping down from his position as of Sept. 11, according to a statement released by Mayor Kasim Reed’s office.

Here is the statement in full:

After four years as President and CEO of the Atlanta BeltLine, Paul Morris will be stepping down from the position, effective September 11, 2017. Mayor Kasim Reed thanked Morris for his service.

“For the last four years, Paul Morris has brought an impressive depth of management experience to the Atlanta BeltLine and I am grateful for his service to the City of Atlanta. Under his leadership, the BeltLine activated a $43 million extension of the Westside Trail and Eastside Trail southern extension, adding over four miles to the project, and became the most visited attraction in the City of Atlanta with 1.4 million annual visitors. I am proud of Paul’s accomplishments and I wish him the best as he embarks on the next chapter of his career,” said Mayor Reed.

Morris was elected by the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) Board of Directors to the position in June of 2013. During his tenure, the ABI Board of Directors developed and adopted the 2030 Strategic Implementation Plan. He also facilitated the opening of the Eastside Trail Gateway in August 2014, completed the newly renovated affordable workforce apartments at Stanton Oaks (formerly Boynton Village) in the Peoplestown neighborhood, established the Atlanta BeltLine’s first urban farm in Southwest Atlanta with Alumna Farms, developed the second skatepark on the Atlanta BeltLine at Arthur Langford, Jr. Park, and lead the construction of the Westside Tail which will open in late September.

“I have been extraordinarily honored and humbled by the opportunity I have had over the last 4 years to have worked for this project. I have been gratified to have been able to work with a great group of people who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the BeltLine and who have made significant strides in its progress,” said Mr. Morris. “At the end of the day, the BeltLine has never been about me or any one individual but it has required the leadership of the Mayor, the ABI Board and the successful efforts of several partners for the BeltLine to have come as far along as it has. Collaboration and support from numerous individuals and entities have been essential to the success of the project up to this point. I am confident that the BeltLine will continue to significantly transform the lives and quality of life for everybody in Atlanta.”

The ABI Board of Directors voted to elect Brian McGowan as the new President and CEO of the Atlanta BeltLine. McGowan is currently a Principal with the global law firm Dentons. He leads a practice area that focuses on global economic development initiatives where he engages with business leaders and elected officials to address community and job growth challenges. Prior to this, McGowan was the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. In 2011, McGowan served as the CEO of Invest Atlanta. While in this position, he refocused the organization to be a catalyst for community revitalization, economic growth and competitiveness. During his tenure, he was responsible for programs that facilitated the creation of more than 23,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion in investment in the City of Atlanta.

“The ABI is very fortunate to have Brian McGowan as its new leader,” said John Somerhalder, Chairman of the ABI Board of Directors. “Brian brings a wealth of experience to the organization and I am confident that he is the right person to continue to guide of the Atlanta BeltLine into its next phase. I also want to thank Paul Morris for his leadership of ABI over the past four years. I wish him well in the next chapter of his career.”

As President and CEO of ABI, McGowan will continue to lead the organization which is responsible for implementing one of the most transformative urban redevelopment and mobility projects in the country. McGowan will start on September 11, 2017.

“I am honored that the ABI Board has selected me to be the new President and CEO of the Atlanta BeltLine,” said Brian McGowan. “This is the most important project in Atlanta because it gives us an opportunity that no other city has – a way to comprehensively address affordability and economic mobility. I look forward to working with the community to refocus the BeltLine on its original vision of bringing Atlanta together towards a truly global and economically inclusive city.”

The Atlanta BeltLine now hosts more than one million visitors per year. When completed, the BeltLine will connect 45 in-town neighborhoods over 22 miles of trails. In November 2016, an overwhelming majority of Atlanta voters approved a four-tenths of a penny sales tax to fund the acquisition of the remaining land to connect the BeltLine. Voters also approved a 40-year, half-penny sales tax to expand transit within the City of Atlanta, including along the BeltLine, which is essential to the original vision of the BeltLine.

Affordability and expanded economic opportunity are also essential. In 2005, the ABI set a goal to deliver 5,600 affordable workforce housing units out of 28,000 residential housing units across the Atlanta BeltLine planning area by 2030. Since 2006, the ABI has developed more than 15,000 residential housing units, more than 550 ABI and Invest Atlanta supported affordable workforce housing units, approximately 1,000 ABI and Invest Atlanta supported affordable workforce housing units in the ABI planning area and more than 2,000 affordable workforce housing units including utilizing Atlanta Housing Authority and Georgia Department of Community Affairs resources and funding.


Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.