The city paid $2.7 million to Regions Bank in 2010 for the 13-acre Preston Chase apartments on Franklin Road. The city spent another $410,643 with Buford-based Environmental Holdings Group to demolish the complex, turning the area into parkland.
The money used to purchase the property came from a $25 million parks bond issue voters approved in 2009.
Since then, other aging apartment complexes have found themselves in the crosshairs of the city, which plans to purchase the deteriorating rentals, raze the buildings and market the land to developers with cash raised by the $68 million bond referendum approved by voters in November.
Though the site that was once home to Preston Chase was initially intended to become a park, city economic development manager Beth Sessoms told City Council on Monday the site could be marketed to developers alongside other city-bought apartments if the expense was moved from the parks bond issue to the redevelopment bond issue.
The 386-unit, 25.2-acre Woodlands Park complex was bought by the City Council for $7.9 million in late September. The next day, council closed on the sale of the 348-unit, 24.3-acre Flagstone Village Apartments.
City Council has enlisted the help of Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle to market those apartments — and others the city may purchase in the future — to developers nationwide.
If the city were to make a technical change to its books, moving the Preston Chase purchase from the 2009 parks bond issue to the 2013 redevelopment bond issue, it could let go of its vision for a park and sell the land to developers. Making that change does not obligate the city to sell the land and forego a park, but it makes the idea possible. A park could still be built under the redevelopment bond.
Council uncertain on location for Franklin Road park
Councilwoman Michelle Cooper Kelly said she supports the idea of making the swap, but said a park is needed somewhere on Franklin Road.
Redevelopment along the corridor is a package, she said, and Preston Chase should somehow be part of that package.
“I’m torn with holding onto Preston Chase for the fact that something else may come along,” Kelly said.
Councilman Stuart Fleming said the city has agreed to make a dramatic change along Franklin Road, as evidenced by the passage of the redevelopment bond issue. Green space is needed on the road, he said, but “whether or not that’s the city’s role or private industry is yet to be seen.”
“A 13-acre park for an area that’s going to change dramatically, I’m not sure that makes sense,” Fleming said.
City Council will vote at a meeting set for 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 205 Lawrence St., on making the switch from the parks bond to the redevelopment bond. Councilman Philip Goldstein cast the lone vote against moving the matter to Wednesday’s agenda during a Monday work session.
Kennestone expansion also to be taken up Wednesday
City Council is also expected to make a decision Wednesday about the fate of a controversial sky bridge proposed by WellStar Kennestone Hospital as a part of its planned expansion.
The issue was tabled last month and received little discussion Monday from council members during a work session.
Council members will vote on Kennestone’s proposal Wednesday, but the council could opt to put off making a decision for another month.
The plan includes constructing a new two-story, 80,750-square-foot emergency department, parking deck and pedestrian bridge across Church Street.
Residents of the historic neighborhood have said they were caught off guard when WellStar presented documents to the city outlining its plans.
WellStar has said its plans aren’t final and community input will be considered in planning for the proposed expansion that involves constructing a 20-foot sky bridge across Church Street, connecting the hospital’s existing surgery department to the new emergency department planned to be built between Church, Cherokee and Cherry streets.
“We continue to have dialogue with our neighborhood,” said Dan Woods, president of Kennestone, who attended Monday’s meeting.
To build the sky bridge, WellStar needs City Council to grant an easement, but the city’s say ends there. The proposed site is owned by the Cobb County Kennestone Hospital Authority, a government entity that is exempt from city zoning regulations.