Few companies show interest in redeveloping sites
by Marcus E Howard
August 13, 2012 12:47 AM | 3572 views | 13 13 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMYRNA — It’s been just over a year since Smyrna officials passed a new ordinance with the hope of replacing a sizeable number of its aging apartment complexes. But few companies have shown a serious interest in redeveloping the sites.

In June 2011, Smyrna City Council members unanimously approved a new zoning district that allows for additional density credits for the complete redevelopment of an existing apartment property. The RM-15 Redevelopment District ordinance increased the density of multi-family housing units from 12 to 15 units per acre.

“This was done to financially incentivize property owners to replace their aging complexes with a new and better quality product,” said Andrea Hall, city redevelopment coordinator. “This density credit would help to offset the substantial costs of tearing down an existing complex and building new.”

But 14 months after the ordinance took effect, no developer has taken advantage of the incentive offered by the city.

“Since this ordinance has taken effect, staff has had conversations with various developers who have expressed interest in using this tool, but to date we have not had a rezoning request,” Hall acknowledged.

According to U.S. Census data, 47.5 percent of Smyrna’s population (51,271) lives in renter-occupied units. City data shows that 30.8 percent of Smyrna’s residential units are apartments.

In his recent State of the City presentation, Mayor Max Bacon noted that two razed apartment complexes, Hickory Lakes and Smyrna Commons, which is now set to be the site of a new school, had represented approximately 10 percent of the city’s aging Class C apartment complexes.

The site of the now-defunct Hickory Lake apartments remains undeveloped after the city purchased and razed the property on Old Concord Road near Windy Hill Road. Hall said the city is “not making efforts to purchase additional complexes.”

And according to the city, any displaced residents living in an apartment complex slated for redevelopment should not look for much help in relocating from their local government, as had occurred with the demolition of Hickory Lake.

“Under normal circumstances, the city does not get involved in private redevelopments,” said Community Relations Director Jennifer Bennett. “We took a more involved role in helping Hickory Lake residents relocate because that property was purchased by the city.”

In total, there are now between 27 and 32 apartment complexes (3,600-plus units) that are categorized as Class C, which means they were built 30 to 40 years ago and have undergone little or no renovation. All but seven are located north of Concord/Springs roads, according to the city.

Officials have been concerned that a prior moratorium on the construction of new apartments had led to a large inventory of aging apartment complexes, built in the 1960s and 1970s. When the new ordinance was passed, then Councilman Mike McNabb commented that the moratorium had worked to artificially limit private investment in the area.

Following the example of the nearby Cumberland Community Improvement District, Smyrna officials are encouraging the construction of more Class A, or high-end, apartments that are typically occupied by white collar workers.

“Redevelopment of aging Class C properties with new, high-quality multi-family properties is the intent of the ordinance,” said Bennett.
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Get rid of Bacon
August 14, 2012
Smyrna's in bad shape. A drive around that property would keep anyone from buying that land. They say a captain should go down with his ship but Smyrna's captain needs to jump. Actually a mutiny would be better. Get him out of office. He's killing the city.
mk-the NEW smyrna
August 14, 2012
Smyrna has several new businesses that recently opened.

Spring Road & Concrd, both, have new 'smoke' shops.

Concord has 2 new 'we buy gold' shops. Spring Road and South Cobb have new pawn & title pawn shops. There's a new mexican resturant getting ready on South Cobb.(the 20 existing ones just aren't enough!)Taqueria opening soon in the near empty Market Village! WOOHOO!! The new Dos Amigos on Spring doesn't seem to be faring too well. I wasn't impressed during my one & ONLY visit- food , so-so & cleanliness- D-.

I heard a new Del Taco is in Smyrna.

There is a new 'discount' furniture in the closed Blockbuster on South Cobb.

The new Kroger is surrounded by gleaming empty storefronts. We do have a new African/Caribbean grocery in the Williams Park neighborhood.

My favorite new opening , is the Rite4Us hotel/no-tell flanking the Smyrna exit ramp off 285.

Opportunities abound in Smyrna!!
August 14, 2012
You cannot make a property valuable to another just because you want it to be valuable. The majority of Smyrna is not in close proximity to the interstate, thereby making hundreds of acres unappealing to corporations, housing developers, etc. I'm aorry for the whiners who want for upper-class shops, universities, etc. to move into Smyrna, but people, you turned down SPLOST. From the exit from the expressway from South Cobb Drive down to Hickory Lake can take an hour during the "rush" to get that far. Be content with your little old ranch homes and be content that neither the crime of inner cities, but also the property values of revitalizing inner cities, will continue to exclude you. Oh, I forgot you are either on disability or Social Security and the drive doesn't bother you because you aren't out of the house at 7:30 a.m. except maybe to drive to the local diner and far away from the interstate and traffic.
They Aren't Truthful
August 13, 2012
From MDJ article 12/02/10 "Residents of Hickory Lakes Apartments say if the city wants to buy and demolish their homes, it should at least pay to help them relocate. City officials are considering incentives, but not likely money to move, a Smyrna spokeswoman said."

In today's MDJ article "Jennifer Bennett...We took a more involved role in helping Hickory Lake residents relocate because that property was purchased by the city.”

August 13, 2012
Someone needs to explain how much in property and other taxes have been lost due to the demolitions. City ownership is a government, so they don't pay a dime in taxes.

And as to the other "gee that's a great idea!" giveaways, how much in taxes are lost for these wastes of time?

Cough it up folks! Citizens deserve answers
August 13, 2012
The Smyrna Downtown Area Development Corporation (SDADC) issued a $15 million bond to buy this 47 ½-acre property. The purchase price was $9.5 million - $4.1 was needed for demolition expenses (the remainder was for related costs). Then there are the deferred bond payments coming due. Organizers of the Smyrna Academy of Excellence told the city that they wanted to purchase the property for its school campus. Bacon said he would welcome the school while saying the city has received interest in the property from industrial, manufacturing and hospital companies. “The overall interest in the property has been steady,’’ said Chad Koenig of NAI Brannen Goddard. It's being marketed as Smyrna Grove. This information is from December of last year. Yet it still sits costing the taxpayers of Smyrna more money.

August 13, 2012
The city probably did the right thing in cleaning up the problems at Hickory Lakes (i.e. substandard, unsafe housing units, drugs, crime, etc.) but they need to resign themselves to the cost of that solution.

As far as redevelopment is concerned

You cannot create a market were one doesn't exist in the first place. This is especially true in today's economic environment.

It is just not going to happen.

It's like trying to force a square peg into a round hole.

Although many people don't want to even consider it maybe a hispanic focused mixed use development would make sense.

Hickory Lakes Lies
August 13, 2012
Hickory Lakes property is surrounded by poverty and a large illegal immigrant community!

The meeting to relocate Hickory Lakes tenants was born out of an uprising and anger of the way the tenants were being displaced. It was the middle of winter. They were told they had 60 days to move. The notice they got was a warning to start evacuating and stated the power & water were to be cut off at the complex so they could no longer safely live there. The city encouraged the complex to scare people into moving .

The people that refused to move and demanded the city help, were guided to a 'police state' type meeting behind the church one evening. There were 4-5 police cars in the parking lot & a canine unit parked at the entrance gate!

If this isn't '50's style intimidation, I don't know what is! Too bad the news wasn't notified in time to record this strong arm city tactic!

Just the way it is out here!
Not Affluent Enough
August 13, 2012
As an apt. dweller I could see years ago what Smyrna was doing. It was pulling up the welcome mat for people like me who aren't corporate and make six figures.
mk- ghost town
August 13, 2012
The city of Smyrna is a corrupt , good ole boys private club.

Max Bacon's been the mayor for 30 years and before that it was his daddy!

The city hall/library/community center/jail were all built as monuments to King Bacon,.. while surrounded by poor neighborhoods & poverty!

The new school, another Bacon monument, we'll never hear the end of! Yet our small neighborhood schools, that SHOULD be supported by the city & citizens, have been underperforming, and are slowly being shuttered! W/out good, close knit neighborhood elementary schools the children should be walking & biking to, you can't expect solid neighborhoods.

Without support for your citizens and neighborhoods, you won't have a quality city! You create a transient, disconnected and dumbed down citizenry! (they're much easier to control)

And you think they care? They don't! All they care about is how can they create a 'false image'of Smyrna, that will FOOL enough folks to move to this city. Once they move in & start looking for any signs of quality of life, they see the exaggerations & lies!

Come one, come all!

Bow down to city hall!
Pat H
August 13, 2012
For the Max Bacons, it is not a career but a dynasty (or a nasty succession).

The last thing that Smyrna needs are more apartments which end up attracting low income people who require many services, from schools to police. That is why Smyrna is so run down now.
Say What?
August 13, 2012
Bennett said Smyrna helped Hickory Lake residents relocate because the city bought the property. Not true. They helped them relocate because the residents approached the city and voiced their anger at the way they were being treated. Smyrna government willingly helping anyone. Ha!
August 13, 2012
Smyrna residents are on the hook for these ill-advised land purchases by the Mayor and Council. They have speculated on real estate with tax dollars and soon the deferred payments on the bonds will come due. This will be costly for taxpayers but it has been even more painful for city employees who have gone without a raise for the better part of a decade now. We need to make changes at the top and we need term limits so those who desire to "serve" do not view it as a career.
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