Tyler Perry is ready to shell out millions if it means that the community surrounding Tyler Perry Studios will be protected from fumes from a proposed FDA laboratory — or at least that’s how the entertainment mogul is characterizing his desire to purchase the former Forces Command (FORSCOM) building located adjacent to his media facility in Atlanta.
FORSCOM, formerly a military training complex located on the Fort McPherson former Army base that is home to Perry’s studio, was sold to Easterly Government Properties for $17 million in 2019 after Perry first bought a large portion of the 488-acre lot that comprises Fort Mac. The real estate investment trust planned to renovate the 380,000-square-foot space and then to lease it to the FDA in 2021 for an FDA lab that was to occupy the space; however, the timeline has now moved to 2025. Perry spoke out in objection to the government administration’s plans.
“The FDA will have smokestacks emitting white smoke. It’s very problematic to me,” Perry told the Saporta Report. The director said that he was not only willing to purchase the building from Easterly Government Properties but that he would do so at a higher price. The “Madea” creator added that plans to build a facility that emits fumes would be unconscionable in a primarily white and wealthy community.
“I would gladly buy the buildings at a premium to not have smokestacks on the property,” Perry said. “The best outcome, if they do not sell the building to me, would be to not have the smokestacks with the environmental impact in an all-Black neighborhood.”
He continued, “To allow someone to put a laboratory in the heart of this development with smokestacks is not OK with me. They would not do it in Buckhead, so why would they do it here? It feels like environmental racism.”
However, Mark Bauer, executive vice president of Easterly Government Properties, said that smokestacks are “not a fair or accurate description” of the proposed plans that have been scaled back. “They are Strobic fans. It’s typical for all labs, hospitals, and medical facilities. It’s a type of exhaust system that takes unwanted vapors and fumes created in the lab application and cleans it before putting it out in the atmosphere, so it’s clean,” explained Bauer. “The mechanics are on the roof. The vapors that come out are not visible. It’s not like toxic fumes.” Bauer also pointed out that a similar FDA lab is already operating in Atlanta’s upscale Midtown neighborhood.
Nonetheless, he noted that the trust is open to working with Perry to facilitate the purchase of FORSCOM, but first, Easterly Government Properties would have to be open to selling. “We would like to see full use of the building,” said Bauer.
Perry recently spent $8.4 million on an additional 37 acres of unused land adjacent to his studio, which was built on a portion of the former Army base, Fort McPherson. With the latest addition, he now occupies more than 360 acres in southwest Atlanta. He plans to develop an entertainment complex boasting a movie theater, retail shops, and restaurants.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity this gives Tyler Perry Studios to extend our footprint in Atlanta and create more opportunities for the people of Southwest Atlanta with restaurants, entertainment venues, and other business opportunities,” said Perry when the deal was first announced.