Editor’s note/correction: The dispute over four lots purchased by the city of Sandy Springs east of its new City Springs complex is between the city and Outfront Media, an advertising company that holds a leasehold interest in the billboards. A story published Nov. 20 incorrectly identified the previous owner of the property, Adam Orkin and W.B. Holdings-Triangle LLC, as the owner of the billboards and as being a party to the ongoing legal dispute. From the date of the sale of the property to the city, Orkin and W.B. Holdings have held no interest in the property, the billboards or the leasing of the billboards. The following is an update and correction to the previous story. The Neighbor regrets the error.
The city of Sandy Springs’ lawsuit against Outfront Media over three billboards on property the city owns in the area east of its new City Springs complex has come to an end after a Fulton County judge ruled in the city’s favor.
Fulton Superior Court Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams issued the ruling favoring the city of Sandy Springs last month.
“The city won on all counts,” city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said in a Nov. 27 email.
Prior to the ruling, Mayor Rusty Paul talked about the issue at a Nov. 19 meeting at City Springs. The city bought four lots at or near the Mount Vernon Highway/Johnson Ferry Road/Roswell Road intersection.
“I’m getting a lot of questions about the property on the east side of Roswell Road, this wasteland. (Residents ask) why the city is not cleaning that up. … The trial part of the litigation has been over for quite some time (since Dec. 19, 2018),” Paul said.
But those plans were on hold until Adams ruled on the lawsuit’s settlement last month.
Sandy Springs paid $4.8 million for the four parcels to W.B. Holdings-Triangle LLC, a business owned by Adam Orkin. Since 2015 the city had tried to purchase the property from Orkin. After the city used condemnation proceedings the following year, both sides came to an agreement on the price.
Once the properties were sold, Orkin’s involvement ended. But Outfront continued to rent the billboards there, even trying to pay the billboards’ annual rent of $25,000 to the city in an effort to extend the lease, Lee said.
Outfront could still appeal it to a higher court, further delaying Sandy Springs’ redevelopment plans.
Interim City Manager Peggy Merriss said Sandy Springs is considering a temporary cleanup effort to the property, which Paul calls “one of the top two eyesores” in the city. But, Merriss added, the city won’t spend a lot of money on the project.
“We want to do what we can that’s economical so when the billboards are torn down, we don’t spend a lot of money tearing down those improvements. … But we got a pretty loud signal that this should be cleaned up,” she said.
Said Lee, “Of all the things I get asked about in Sandy Springs, the billboards issue is the number one issue. … Not to be trite, but to pay (nearly) $5 million for something and not be able to use it is a major problem.”