Officials in Garden City have agreed to some new terms for the sale and development of nearly 20 acres of property around their city hall.
On Monday, Garden City council members voted unanimously to adopt a fifth amendment to a sales contract with Atlanta-based Roberts Properties Inc. for the area off Dean Forest Road known as the Town Center. City manager Ron Feldner called the amendment a “key milestone,” in which the development company and the city agree to their responsibilities as the sale moves forward.
Garden City Mayor Don Bethune has said that once the sale is finalized, Roberts expects to build more than 200 apartment units behind City Hall and the police department. Another 70,000 square feet of commercial space is planned for the property’s frontage on Dean Forest Road.
Under the amended contract approved Monday, the city is required to complete a number of steps in advance of the property’s sale, including development of plans for public utilities and landscaping, removal of the historic Dotson House from the property, and establishment of an Enterprise Zone in the area for future abatement of city property taxes and certain development fees.
Unlike previous plans, it now appears the city will have to demolish the Dotson House, which was initially planned to be relocated and then renovated to house a visitors center. During a workshop on the contract amendment last week, City Attorney Jim Gerard pointed out that the 160-year-old house is in poor condition and an unlikely candidate for rehabilitation.
If the work moves according to the agreed upon plans, the Garden City Planning Commission could be reviewing site plans for the property by early May, and construction plans could be issued by early 2018.
The mayor said Monday that after about a decade of planning, he’s glad to see Town Center getting close to coming to fruition.
“This project will be very good for this side of town,” Bethune said before the council’s vote. “We hope it will jumpstart development in this area.”
City officials kickstarted the sale of Town Center in April 2016, when council members voted to accept Roberts’ proposal for the property. The original sales contract was adopted the following June and in the time since, the two entities have been working to establish each side’s responsibilities.
In unrelated business Monday, the Garden City City Council:
• Voted 4-3 to turn down a request to rezone property at 1136 and 1140 Dean Forest Road from residential to heavy commercial designations. Building Safety and Planning Director Ron Alexander said last week the owner intended to combine three lots into one for a future commercial development.
• Approved year-end amendments for the city’s 2016 general, enterprise and SPLOST funds. The amendments align the city’s anticipated revenues and expenditures in these funds to the actual revenues and expenditures for the 2016 fiscal year.
• Adopted new internal control policies and procedures. Feldner said the change is meant to “enhance financial management and oversight” in city departments responsible for accepting payments.