Vote on stalled Smyrna project tonight
by Nikki Wiley
December 15, 2013 11:11 PM | 2361 views | 1 1 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SMYRNA — A tax allocation district subsidy for a development project stalled since at least 2008 is up for renewal by the Smyrna City Council tonight.

Council will vote at 7:30 p.m. tonight at City Hall, 2800 King St., on the incentive for a developer of a mixed-use community at the corner of Atlanta and Windy Hill roads where the 1950s-era Belmont Hills Shopping Center once stood.

The project was approved by the city and the county for the TAD, which is an incentive for developers to build in blighted areas to increase property values.

TAD subsidies involve freezing the tax value of the property. Taxes at the existing value continue to go to local jurisdictions, but any new taxes generated by a higher property value go to pay off development bonds instead of to the local governments.

TADs were approved at the state level in 1985, and a referendum in a 2002 Smyrna election gave the city the go-ahead to establish the districts.

School district taxes are not used for this TAD.

Mayor Max Bacon said the subsidy is necessary for the developer, Atlanta-based Halpern Enterprises, to get its money back that was spent on razing the property.

“I think everything got hit by the recession,” Bacon said.

The 48-acre site is set to feature 274 luxury rental units and 164 senior units along with commercial space facing Atlanta and Windy Hill roads. Restaurants, retailers and professional offices are planned.

“The desired tenant mix will include a blend of both casual and more upscale restaurants, along with retailers and boutiques not currently represented in the Smyrna market,” according to a description of the project provided by the city.

The 338 townhomes and flats, along with eight single-family homes once planned for the site, are not mentioned in the city’s official description.

Changes to the plan are “reflecting the economic realities of the time,” said Jennifer Bennett, Smyrna spokeswoman.

Bennett said no tax revenue has been collected yet.

Another Smyrna redevelopment project was also approved for a TAD, but the funding became void when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled in February 2008 that it is unconstitutional for local governments to use school revenues for the tax districts.

That project came up again last month when developers sought a re-zoning from the city for the development proposed to contain 288-unit apartment complex containing 25,000 square feet of retail space. The development is proposed for the corner of Atlanta Road and Spring Street where Jonquil Plaza once stood.

After the City Council denied the rezoning following complaints of residents, an attorney for the developer told the Journal that he plans to file a court appeal.

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December 16, 2013
More apartments along Atlanta Road. Bacon and others are going to let developers use the economic downturn (although it's now on the upswing) to define Smyrna as a rental dump for decades to come.

Such classic short-sightedness. Elected folks should be skeptical of developers, not in-line with their rationales at every turn. But familiarity (seeing the same people at meetings, etc.) breeds conformity, which is the intent of the development community. In other words, they turn elected officials into their fools. Then, when a fool is booted from office, the relationship ends and the cycle repeats.

It's time to get Bacon and those three other city council fools out of office before they ruin Smyrna.
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