Axios Atlanta

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It's Friday! And the 2024 legislative session is over. Together we made it.

โ˜€๏ธ Today's weather: Sunny. High near 72.

Situational awareness: Furniture maker IKEA announced plans to open a new mini store in Alpharetta this summer. More details.

๐Ÿซถ Last chance to win: We're celebrating our members all week. Support our newsroom by becoming an Axios Atlanta member, and you could win the final prize.

Today's newsletter is 910 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Forsyth approves The Gathering

A rendering of the arena at The Gathering at South Forsyth. Photo: Krause Sports & Entertainment/SCI Architects

Despite Forsyth commissioners approving an agreement to develop an 84-acre site in hopes of attracting an NHL team, developers are expressing concerns over tweaks made to its initial framework with the county.

Why it matters: The Gathering at South Forsyth promises to transform a site that once was slated for a mall into a $2 billion entertainment hub similar to The Battery Atlanta in Cobb County.

The latest: Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with developers behind the project, which would add hotels, 150 homes, 1,800 multi-family units, 1.6 million square feet of office and retail space, and an 18,5000-seat arena along Union Hill Road at Ronald Reagan Boulevard.

What's inside: The MOU stipulates developers will pay for the construction of office, commercial/retail and hotel space, multi-family homes and single-family homes, a fire station and sheriff's office precinct and a connection to the Big Creek Greenway.

  • The county would invest $225 million into the project, contingent upon the NHL awarding a hockey franchise to the area.

Friction point: The Gathering said in its press release that some last-minute changes were "not originally agreed to by the county team empowered to negotiate."

  • Those changes include allowing developers to build retail space and hotels in phase one of the project and construct the arena and 600 planned multi-family units in phase two.

More than a dozen people spoke in favor of the project, some of whom wore hockey jerseys to show their support.

  • Tom Burgess, a Forsyth resident who plays on two teams for the Atlanta Amateur Hockey League, noted that the metro area has the second-largest amateur league in the country.

The other side: There were a few residents who were opposed to the project. Brian Hudes said he's concerned that the county-owned arena would not pay taxes.

What's next: The agreement has to go through another legal review by the county due to the changes. However, even if all parties are satisfied, developers won't turn dirt any time soon.

  • They will still have to go through the planning and zoning process.

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2. Sine Die marks end to legislative session

Legislators sit in the House Chambers yesterday on Sine Die, the last day of the Georgia General Assembly. Photo: Natrice Miller/Atlanta Journal-Constitution

State lawmakers wrapped up the 2024 legislative session late this morning.

Here's a recap of what bills made it through and which ones failed to cross the finish line.

Of note: Gov. Brian Kemp has 40 days to sign, veto or allow bills to become law.

What passed:

๐Ÿ’ฐ Budget: The state's roughly $36 billion budget cleared both chambers hours before the session ended.

๐Ÿšจ Immigration: HB 1105 requires local jails to notify federal immigration officials if they detain an undocumented person.

๐Ÿ—ณ Elections: Lawmakers approved a last-minute change to Georgia election laws that includes banning QR codes on ballots.

What didn't pass:

โ› Okefenokee mining: The Senate declined to take up a measure designed to pause, but not prohibit, the permitting of new mining operations near the Okefenokee Swamp.

โš–๏ธ Wrongful convictions: Lawmakers failed to pass legislation to reform how Georgia compensates individuals who are wrongfully convicted of crimes.

๐Ÿˆ Sports betting: Lawmakers didn't consider a proposed referendum asking voters to approve or reject online sports gambling.

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3. The Braves' road to the World Series begins today

Braves players Matt Olson, Sal Fasano, Sean Murphy and Travis D'Arnaud before their spring training game with the Orioles in Florida this month. Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We're only hours away from the first pitch of the season for the defending National League East champion Atlanta Braves, who open at rival Philadelphia at 3:05pm Friday.

Why it matters: The Braves are entering the 2024 campaign as one of the MLB's best teams and the No. 2 favorite to win this year's World Series, just behind the Dodgers.

What we're watching: The Braves' high-scoring offense, including reigning MVP Ronald Acuรฑa Jr., and new outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who closed spring training with a 452-foot home run Tuesday.

Yes, but: Although the Braves have a World Series title and five consecutive division titles over the past five years, they've won only once on opening day in that span, the AJC writes.

  • But the ultimate goal isn't to win today; it's to bring another World Series back to the A.

Watch: On NBC, MLB Extra Innings, Bally Sports South, or Bally Sports Southeast.

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4. Atlanta's idyllic spring seasons are getting warmer

Change in average spring temperature from 1970 to 2023
Data: Climate Central; Chart: Axios Visuals

Atlanta's spring seasons are getting warmer โ€” a trend reflecting human-caused warming.

Why it matters: Much of the seasonal climate change discussion is focused on summer and winter, when temperatures are typically at their annual high and low extremes.

  • But the "between seasons" โ€”ย Atlanta's not-to-be-missed (actual) spring and fall โ€” are affected too.

By the numbers: Springtime in Atlanta warmed by 1.5 degrees on average between 1970 and 2023, per Climate Central, a climate research and communications nonprofit.

Zoom in: Heat waves, sudden storms and flash floods are landlocked metro Atlanta's biggest threats from climate change.

  • The city's climate strategy hinges on transitioning City Hall to 100% clean energy by 2035. As of December 2023, however, the city was falling short of its 2025 goal.

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Stay booked and busy

๐Ÿ“… Upcoming events around the city.

Heritage Fire Tour Atlanta at Guardian Works on April 28th: Uniting live fire cooking, local farms, and top chefs for an all-you-can-eat feast. Grab tickets today. $125 general admission, $175 VIP.

Hosting an event? Email [email protected].

5. Five-ish Points: ๐Ÿ”ฅ Usher's ATL Chicken biz

Usher at the 55th Annual NAACP Awards on March 16, 2024, in Los Angeles. Photo: Unique Nicole/WireImage

The Athens Hispanic community is anxious about an immigration crackdown after an undocumented man allegedly killed Augusta University student Laken Riley on the campus of UGA. (AJC)

๐Ÿง‡ Striking Georgia Waffle House workers want the company to end mandatory "meal credit" paycheck deductions and improve working conditions, wages, and safety measures. (WSB-TV)

โš–๏ธ Federal appeals judges are weighing arguments to overturn the prison sentences for three men in the 2020 killing of Ahmaud Arbery. (WABE)

๐Ÿก Pick the best metro Atlanta suburb in this year's OTP downtown bracket. (Urbanize Atlanta)

๐Ÿ— Grammy-winning Usher is partnering with Dave's Hot Chicken to open restaurants in metro Atlanta. (WhatNow Atlanta)

โœŒ๐ŸฝKristal is using her three-day weekend to relax and recharge.

๐ŸŒ Thomas is en route to San Francisco to visit his inimitable and incredible mom.

๐Ÿ˜‹ Wil still enjoys those tasty beignets at Your 3rd Spot.

This newsletter was edited by Jen Ashley and copy edited by Natasha Danielle Smith and Anjelica Tan.