The city closed Tuesday on the 386-unit, 25.2-acre Woodlands Park complex, which was under contract by City Council for $7.9 million in late September.
It’s the first purchase since voters approved a $68 million bond referendum in November, agreeing to raise their own property taxes by up to 2 mills so the city could fund the redevelopment of Franklin Road. The city plans to purchase aging apartment complexes and market them to developers.
“It’s not quite as exciting as election night was, but it’s right up there,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin, who led the campaign for the referendum.
Tumlin said the closing kicks off the revitalization project.
“It’s one thing to lay a foundation, but to actually put concrete in the project, it just solidifies six or seven months of work and bodes well for the future,” Tumlin said.
Retiring Councilman Johnny Sinclair said he’s glad to be able to show the bond “has worked out” before leaving office when Johnny Walker, a Realtor, replaces him in January.
“To be able to close on a couple of properties before I left office is obviously pretty rewarding,” Sinclair said. “It’s going to be one of the most important projects in Marietta’s recent history.”
A second complex put under contract in late November is expected to close today. Council will spend $12 million on the 348-unit, 24.3-acre Flagstone Village Apartments, 849 Franklin Road, bought from Atlanta-based TriTex Real Estate Advisors Inc., directed by CEO Ernest Davis.
If the closing takes place as planned, Marietta will own 50 acres of contiguous property on Franklin Road that backs up to Interstate 75.
Some defend rising prices
Tumlin and Sinclair justified Flagstone Village’s price tag that is $4 million higher than that of Woodlands Park, despite being neighboring properties and being similar in size.
Sinclair maintains the price difference is because of the differing circumstances. Though the city plans to raze them,
Sinclair said sellers expect to be paid based on the condition of their property.
“It just means that one is in disrepair and the other is in even more disrepair,” Sinclair said.
It’s what the voters told the council to do, said outgoing Councilwoman Annette Lewis, who will be replaced by Marietta school board member Stuart Fleming in January. She conceded, though, the market has driven prices on Franklin Road higher since the bond referendum passed and the Atlanta Braves announced its intention to move its stadium to Cumberland.
“One property we got (at) a very good price,” Lewis said.
Tumlin said the city is not in a rush to get any other properties under contract and plans to focus its efforts on the two complexes it has in its coffers now.
“We’re not speculating that they’re going to come down as much as (we’re asking), ‘Is the new price the real price now?’” he said.
Renters can stay through school year
The Marietta Housing Authority has already begun working with residents of Woodlands Park and will get to work today with Flagstone Village’s tenants, if the closing goes through as planned.
Ray Buday, executive director, expects the process to be “very successful.” The Housing Authority won’t offer monetary assistance to residents that now have to vacate their homes, but it will help tenants find new housing.
Buday has experience with moving apartment renters.
When the city purchased the 13-acre Preston Chase apartments on Franklin Road for $2.7 million using funds from the 2009 parks bond, the Housing Authority had a similar agreement with the city.
“In our prior experience with Preston Chase, it went pretty quickly,” Buday said. “We didn’t have to terminate the lease of anybody.”
The authority will honor existing leases, Buday said, allowing the nearly 400 children residing in the two complexes to finish the year at their current schools.
“Even if their leases expire in January, February, they don’t have to move out until May because we want folks that have kids to be able to finish the school year, so we’re not going to terminate any leases before May 31,” Buday said.