If bond passes Tuesday, mayor ready to move forward Wednesday
by Nikki Wiley
October 31, 2013 01:12 AM | 3238 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — Voters won’t weigh in on a $68 million redevelopment bond targeting Franklin Road until Tuesday, but Mayor Steve Tumlin says he wants to have things in order to begin work the day after the vote, if the city gets approval.

Voters will tell the city on Tuesday if they are willing to see their property taxes raised by 2 mills, an increase of about $160 per year on a $200,000 home and $320 on a $400,000 home. It’s all part of a plan to purchase and then raze nine or 10 aging apartment complexes on Franklin Road, then sell the vacant land to private developers who would be expected to redevelop the sites.

Tumlin says the city is seeking a “super guru” to oversee the real estate project.

Getting the city’s ducks in a row to begin work on the project has gone “beyond immediacy,” Tumlin said.

“If we make any mistakes, we can’t go back,” Tumlin said. “We’d rather make this thing work by good planning ahead.”

Beth Sessoms, city development manager, asked the council on Wednesday to choose the Marietta office of Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle for the gig out of the seven who applied.

The company, if approved by the council, would help market property the city purchases and would court developers interested in the area.

The full City Council won’t make a decision about the company until after voters go to the polls. A council committee voted on Wednesday night to bring the matter before the full council.

Councilman Johnny Sinclair called it a great step forward.

“I think it’s important that we make a decision and show we’re moving forward,” Sinclair said.

Councilman Jim King recommended that the council and city staff disclose if they have any personal or business relationships with employees of Jones Lang LaSalle. Council members will make that disclosure at a Monday non-voting meeting before moving forward with a vote on the company.

King said it was in the interest of instilling the “most transparency and most confidence” in voters taking up the issue on Tuesday that there is no “shenanigans or funny business going on.” A committee of city staff made the recommendation to choose Jones Lang LaSalle.

“I don’t want voters to have a reason to doubt the integrity of this process,” King said.

The two-year consultant position would not be a city employee, but would work under a two-year contract with the city. The contractor would be paid out of the funds from the $68 million bond, if it is approved. No contract has been negotiated yet and the city has not approved a cost for the contract, though the company would be paid hourly for some services and on a commission.

“Part of this whole premise is we’re a city and not a developer,” Tumlin said. “It’s to have a (transition) from the role that the city will play, providing the availability of land and infrastructure, this is the person that will actually work in the community and help recruit businesses to come here.”

The advantage to having Jones Lang LaSalle in charge of the project, Sessoms said, is the company’s national influence.

“They work in the commercial real estate business every day of their lives,” Sessoms said.

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