City attorney Doug Haynie has entered into negotiations with Waleed "Lee" Jaraysi that would give him a six-month extension to finish his 24,000-square-foot building. Were Jaraysi granted an extension, he would have to complete the building by the end of the six months or allow the city to demolish the structure and be billed the expense, Haynie said.
Haynie said he and Jaraysi's attorney, Lee Davis of the Marietta firm Bailey, Davis, Brown & Sutton, are in the middle of negotiations, and he hopes to bring the City Council a proposal in the next 30 days.
Haynie believes it is in the city's interest to grant the extension because if they head back to court, Jaraysi will argue that it's difficult to obtain a construction loan in the current economic market, an argument Haynie would find difficult to refute.
In February 2009, Jaraysi and the City Council agreed to settle lawsuits regarding the unfinished building. Jaraysi agreed to build an office building in place of the wedding hall he originally intended for the spot, and agreed to have it completed by May 25, 2010. Back at the February 2009 meeting, Jaraysi estimated he could finish the building in six months. He stripped away the rotting plywood that covered the building's frame, but since then, the structure has been untouched. He told the Journal in December he had been unable to obtain a loan to finish the building.
"That's been his biggest problem," Jaraysi's attorney said Thursday. "There is nobody in the world who wants this building done more than Lee Jaraysi."
In April 2005, the city granted Jaraysi a permit for an 8,000-square-foot building. Kevin Moore, who is the attorney for the city's Board of Lights and Water, represented Jaraysi at that time. The city halted work on the project in December 2005 when officials realized the structure being built was about 24,000 square feet. On June 6, 2007, Municipal Court Judge Roger Rozen granted the city's request for a demolition permit, agreeing that the building was a nuisance and a safety hazard. Jaraysi appealed to Cobb Superior Court, but Judge Adele Grubbs dismissed the appeal. Jaraysi next went to the Georgia Court of Appeals. In June 2008, that court returned the case to Cobb Superior Court. The city then appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court in hopes of fast-tracking a decision on demolition. The high court refused to hear an appeal by the city in the case, which meant it went back to Grubbs, who ordered the parties to mediation. Jaraysi pledged to have the building finished by May 25.
As for the boarded-up Holiday Inn, one exit south, on Delk Road between I-75 and Franklin Road, city officials have approved construction permits, City Manager Bill Bruton said.
In August, the City Council approved plans for an extended stay facility to replace the Holiday Inn, which closed after a fire in January 2006. There are two boarded up buildings on the site - which is owned by Diplomat Hotel Company - one facing I-75 and one facing Delk Road. Local developer Roger DeBoy, who is serving as the contract manager for the project, said the plan was to spend $14 million to turn the building facing I-75 into a 122-room Candlewood Suites Extended Stay facility. The building facing Delk Road will be turned into a 50-room Best Western, he said. DeBoy said Thursday both buildings would be open around November.
Bruton said Thursday his staff approved the permits last month, but the developer has not come in to pay for them yet.
"They're ready to go. All they have to do is pay the fee and pick up the plans and they can begin," Bruton said.