The group voted unanimously to sign an agreement with McWhirter Realty Partners to appoint Dan Buyers, a partner in the company, to be the MRC’s real estate agent.
Ron Francis, chairman of the MRC, said the board decided to hire a broker because it had seen an uptick in property sales.
“We feel that the economy is returning back to what it was before the recession, and we want to see the options we have for our properties based on what properties next to them have been going for,” Francis said.
As part of the agreement, which lasts until Dec. 31, 2015, Buyers will get a 5 percent commission on property he sells. In 2006, the MRC began purchasing what would eventually total 8 acres on Hedges Street neary Powder Springs Street.
“I’m focusing on a variety of uses — residential, commercial, offices, senior housing — and I’ll focus on looking at a variety to bring in the highest offer for the MRC,” Buyers said.
Buyers believes the real estate market is improving around Powder Springs Street.
“I think that Powder Springs (Street) is an improving corridor with wonderful residential areas in it. You don’t always
see it when you’re driving down the road, but there are some wonderful residential areas behind the commercial properties,” he said.
Buyers is on the board of the Town Center Area Comm-unity Improvement District.
Francis said the final decision to sell a property to a bidder will have to be approved by the MRC board.
“(McWhirter Realty) would report to us whenever they had an offer and then we would decide whether we want to take (the offer) or not,” Francis said.
The MRC is a tax-exempt organization formed by the City Council in 2003. In 2006, it received $2.1 million from the city to be used as a land-buying fund. It used that money to secure a loan from Bank of North Georgia and began buying property across from the Hilton Marietta Conference Center. The plan was to turn over that property to a developer, but the MRC has been unsuccessful in that effort.
In other news, the MRC accepted an offer from the City Council to continue providing the group with services and funding even though the two are now separate.
As part of the agreement, the council required the MRC to keep its meetings and records open to the public.
“Due to the fact that there’s some confusion as to whether the MRC is under the Georgia Open Records Act or not … as part of the (memorandum of understanding) it would be that we would agree that we are under the Georgia Open Records Act,” Francis said.
After closing part of its June meeting to a MDJ reporter, a move that attracted media attention, Francis now says the board has no objection to following the city’s request.
“I was OK with (following open records and meetings laws) before,” Francis said. “We just didn’t think we were under the open meetings law.”
The city agreed to give the MRC up to $30,000 in services each year until 2017. It also agreed to pay a portion of interest on the $4 million loan the MRC has with Bank of North Georgia.
The amount of those payments varies, but last month’s payment was $13,400, said Beth Sessoms, the city’s economic development manager.
The bank loan has a total of 36 interest payments, which began in January. Of those, the MRC will pay the first 19 months, and the city agreed to pay the last 17 months leading up to the last payment in December 2017.
After the interest payments are complete at the end of 2017, the MRC will still owe the bank the principal of the loan.
Those services will be provided by the two city employees already working with the MRC.
Sessoms said she will work with her assistant, Teresa Sabree, to continue to manage the MRC’s finances. They collect rent from people living in the duplexes owned by the MRC, keep records of the property expenses and provide information to the MRC board when requested.
Sessoms has worked with the group as an executive director since 2012, and Sabree has been the group’s redevelopment project manager since 2004.