Smyrna still seeks buyer for Hickory Lakes site
by Nikki Wiley
July 23, 2013 12:14 AM | 3281 views | 10 10 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMYRNA — A group of elected officials and planners in Smyrna are trying to determine what to do with an empty lot off Windy Hill Road the city purchased three years ago.

The site of the former Hickory Lakes apartment complex sits on Old Concord Road off Windy Hill Road and was purchased by the city in 2010. The city has spent $16 million purchasing and clearing the property they have dubbed Smyrna Grove.

Now, the Smyrna Grove Redevelopment Task Force is looking at what industries should be targeted. The task force is made up of council members Wade Lnenicka, Susan Wilkinson and Doug Stoner along with representatives from the city’s community development agency and Downtown Development Authority.

Lnenicka, who chairs the committee, says he wants to leave no stone unturned in searching for the best use of the property. He says the committee has seen interest from some potential buyers and informal offers have been made, though none have been discussed openly. Members discussed offers Monday in a closed session with representatives from NAI Brannen Goddard, the firm that has been hired by the city to market the property, but took no action.

“We’ve had a conversation with a very wide range of folks,” Lnenicka said.

Though he was the only council member to vote against purchasing the property, Lnenicka says he wants to help the city find a way to make the property more appealing.

“I didn’t get us to the situation we’re in and I wish we weren’t here, but I can’t sit around and say, ‘I told you so,’” he said.

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon says the council chose to purchase the property, which was annexed by the city years before it was bought, in an attempt to better define that section of Windy Hill Road.

“It was one of the worst (apartments) at the time when we purchased it,” Bacon said. “It was in real bad shape.”

The city has undergone an effort in recent years to raze troublesome apartment complexes. More than 10 percent of Smyrna’s apartments have been removed.

There’s nothing wrong with apartment living, Bacon said, but when apartments age and are not maintained, they can deteriorate and attract crime.

The city of Marietta has voted to place before voters in November a similar vision for a stretch of Franklin Road that includes aging apartment complexes that a majority of the council would like to see razed.

Task force members in Smyrna are considering an array of uses for the Hickory Lakes site, from turning the lot into a city park to inviting industry to purchase the property.

“We may not break even on the sale, but we will change Smyrna,” Lnenicka said.

A buyer, like a nonprofit hospital, may not give the city the money it’s looking for, he said, but it could have a higher return on investment.

When the city opened its Market Village, a pedestrian-oriented shopping center that aims to have a downtown atmosphere, in 2002, council members saw 51 rezoning applications in the year after by nearby business owners that wanted to become part of the village community.

Referring to the redevelopment, Lnenicka said, “We know what the halo effect can be.”

Comments
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Mike In Smyrna
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July 23, 2013
To the whiners and complainers: The next general election for Smyrna's Mayor and Council will be held in November 2015 - If you think that you can make a difference run for office.

enough is enough
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July 23, 2013
Smyrna has bought a lot of worthless property for which they overpaid using homeowner tax dollars. Personally, I would far rather see my property taxes reduced than to have the city use my taxes for real estate speculation. If Bacon and his pork barrel council want to gamble on real estate, let them do it with their own money, not mine. Let me know ONE property purchase by the city that has turned a profit....there aren't any. The city can't lower may taxes by spending my tax dollars to take property off of the tax rolls. Why does the Council follow the Mayor down these rabbit holes...what was it Gump said...stupid is as stupid does.

Billy Edens
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July 23, 2013
I see you did not post your name...you probably liked the old downtown Smyrna ...oh there wasn't one...Johnson shoe store? If Jonquil and Belmont Hills gets resurrected we may have a chance to see the city prosper with more jobs and better schools. Progress is costly and painful at times but the results can and will benefit the community over time...Since you like pork stop by Old South and have a BBQ...support Smyrna's local businesses ...see you at the Smyrna Business Association Golf tournament in September.

enough is enough
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July 24, 2013
Billy Edens, there STILL isn't a downtown Smyrna....the Village Market is simply a strip center on which the City of Smyrna lost money on the purchase, redevelopment and sale of the property. But, we do have Belmont Hills and Jonquil Plaza on which taxes have been abated (code name meaning shifted to homeowners)to be proud of right...and, then there's all that new retail development along South Cobb Drive...NOT....no doubt you and MIKE represent old Smurfs who are part of the good ole establishment, defenders of maintaining politics as they have been for decades....one man rule.
Ga Patriot
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July 23, 2013
16 million fo 48 acres in the center of the slums and negleted neighborhoods of Smyrna ,..or 15 million for a beautiful 102 acres in Suwannee, surrounded by beautiful neighborhoods & a growing , productive city??

Hmmmm.

Smyrna (or Bacons)allowed these apartments to be built, they did not enforce codes as the owners neglected them, they did not fine and make it painful to allow the decay, and then they overpaid to buy back the neglected apartments. Poor government oversight or developer cronyism, or both.
SC Observer
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July 23, 2013
Turn it into a city park? So that Max Bacon can complain that non-residents are using it?

Hickory Lakes was annexed then bought and demolished with the aim of ridding Smyrna of undesirables, read "minorities"

Several proposals have been made to purchase the Hickory Lakes, err... Smyrna Grove property. None have, nor will ever succeed because of the unrealistic conditions that Bacon and the city council have placed on the property.

Step one in redeveloping Smyrna would be to rid it of its dynastic mayoral fixation and its cadre of clueless council members.

Unfortunately the only people who vote in Smyrna are the septu/octogenarians as the new arrivals in their 30s can't be bothered as they're too busy to keep informed.

Mimi Louiso
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July 24, 2013
I am a former resident of Hickory Lake- I had cancer and we lost all our money, house, etc..., so Hickory Lake was the roof over my head, and they also helped me get food. My husband was out of work for 2 years.

I was an "Undesirable" that attended 2 Women's Elite schools, Studied Economics and Law in London, and was a debutante. My pedigree is impeccable dating back to First Families of Virginia. My family tree so far goes back to Scotland in 1565.

My social upbringing was hilariously spoiled, my wedding and Debutante Parties had over 500 people and were resplendent. When you get sick, there is never enough money to cover bills and afford to live in a lifestyle to which I was accustomed for 43 years. I was a huge WASP!

I cared about people there- a lot of Katrina victims were there. No it wasn't safe, but you do what you have to do, and it was the most humbling experience.

40% of all crime in Smyrna took place on those 48 acres. And don't I know it. But there were decent people from all nationalities, and I learned a lot about racism. Smyrna cops are nicer to white people than Blacks or Mexicans. And absolutely NO ONE in Smyrna believed I lived at Hickory Lake- they'd laugh as if it was a joke.

I'm so glad I don't live in Smyrna anymore. The whole town is a dump. Redneck and classless.

rjsnh
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July 23, 2013
The City of Smyrna has way over extended itself, and consequently, its taxpayers in the real estate business. The MDJ, if it were serious about local news, would do an expose' on just how many private parcels Smyrna has purchased in the last few years, what they paid for them and what they have, or have not, gotten out of them. Too many tax dollars have gone to bailout those holding bad real estate and the question is why. And, the right answer is not so the property could be redeveloped by the city. That's not city business, that's private sector business. There may be vision, or incompetence and or corruption found in government....this is not vision.
SC Observer
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July 23, 2013
The Marietta Daily Journal hasn't done any investigative journalism in decades.

They know which side their bread is buttered on and they aren't about to start upsetting local pols who could make life difficult for them.

Otherwise they would be investigating the failure of Security Exchange Bank of Marietta or at least asking the FDIC, the FBI and GBI what is going on.

HFM
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July 23, 2013
Holy Frijoles, Marietta! It's a deal on a run down torn down slum on Windy Hill! WE LOVE THOSE! Buy it! Buy it! Buy it! Buy it! Buy it! This cannot be passed up!! Think of what we could do with this place if the City of Marietta acquired just one more slum! Just please get somebody from Kennesaw to negotiate the purchase from Bacon
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