Thursday, February 24, 2011

City of Dunwoody to purchase 16 acre site in Georgetown for $5 Million - Public Hearing Monday Night

Dunwoody to Purchase 16 Acre Site
Plans include a future park and possible civic or institutional use

Dunwoody Press Release – February 24, 2011 – The City of Dunwoody has concluded negotiations with Wells Fargo Bank and will acquire a 16.18 acre property located at 4000 Dunwoody Park. The City intends to close on the property towards the end of April for a final sales price of $5,000,000. The property has been one of the focal points of the City’s on-going master planning effort for the Georgetown / North Shallowford area.

The property is bounded on the west by Chamblee Dunwoody Road and on the east by North Shallowford Road, a few blocks south of the intersection of the two roads. The property is zoned for a high-density, multi-family development and previous owners planned the development for 280 multi-family residential units.

Through the Georgetown / North Shallowford area master planning effort, and the previous Comprehensive Land Use Plan, the City received extensive feedback and input from the community indicating this area has an overabundance of apartments and this property could better serve the community as a park and civic or institutional use. The City’s purchase of this land ensures future development of the site will not further strain the local schools and road infrastructure with additional residential units.

The City intends to utilize the majority of the land to create a new neighborhood park. The City’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan, adopted in 2010, notes that the City currently has 3.23 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. Both the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and ongoing Parks and Recreation Master Plan note that the City of Dunwoody suffers from a significant deficit of parks and open space compared to similar jurisdictions as well as when compared to National Recreation and Parks Association guidelines which suggest at least 6.25 – 10.5 acres per 1,000 residents. This purchase will start to close this gap and provide the Georgetown / North Shallowford area with a catalytic redevelopment opportunity and a signature park.

Mayor Ken Wright is thrilled by the prospect of adding parkland in Dunwoody. “The addition of 16 acres of park land is a watershed moment for Dunwoody and a generational game changer for the Georgetown/North Shallowford community,” said Mayor Wright. “The City Council and I are thrilled to jump start the revitalization of the Georgetown/North Shallowford area of Dunwoody and are relieved that this purchase will head off the inevitable development of the land for more apartments as well as help us move forward in our effort to eliminate our monumental deficit of green space.”

The City Council is expected to authorize the Mayor to execute a sales contract with Wells Fargo for the purchase of the property at the February 28th City Council meeting. The City is in the process of completing the appropriate due diligence for the purchase of this property. The City will hold at least two public hearings and may finalize the purchase of the land in April.

Funding for the $5,000,000 purchase will be made from existing reserves. Due to expense controls and a healthy revenue stream, the City has accumulated well over $8,000,000 in reserves since incorporation in December 2008.

This summer the City Council is expected to approve a call for a bond referendum to be held in November 2011. Voters will have the opportunity to authorize the City to issue $56,000,000 in bonds to invest in the acquisition and development of open space and parkproperties. Funds from a potential bond issuance could be used to develop this raw piece of land into a signature park for Dunwoody.


Steve Barton said...

Wow. More than just a park, I hope...

Anonymous said...

If the $5 million comes from reserve funds, what level of reserve funds will remain?

My concern is about us stripping our ability to handle contingencies of day-to-day issues that arise after this money is spent. This is a very large percentage of dollars for the limited operating budget of Dunwoody.

Anonymous said...

Let me rephrase my question: What is the minimum level of reserves a city like Dunwoody should have at all times. Taking $5mm of $8mm reserves leaves us with $3mm. Is this too low of a number?

Anonymous said...

I know we can't do everything, but this rather large purchase from reserves means no funding for capital traffic improvement projects. Thus far, our transportation plan is simply repaving, which does nothing to alleviate our severe traffic pains, such as in the Tilly Mill-Peeler-GPC area.

Parks are nice, but from a priority perspective, don't we have more immediate needs? No doubt the price is attractive, but are we driven by "how much we saved" versus "how much we spend and on what priorities?"

John Heneghan said...

Steve, options are wide open on the property. Part of it could be new City Hall or police station location (our lease ends in about 7 years), part of it could be sold off for the location of a new DeKalb County School, part of it could be sold off for private development or if needed it could be a huge, huge park. There are no final plans but Council has been working this deal for a long, long time and were lucky enough for it to come to fruition.

Anon, great question. To the best of my knowledge this purchase does not affect the 2011 budget except that there is a slight possibility that for cash flow reasons we may need a short Tax Anticipation Note to carry us for a month or two. This was done for almost all of the first year and last year we didn't use our TAN at all. There is still 2 Million dollars budgeted for capital projects (road work) in 2011 but your question will be discussed on Monday.

There is a public hearing on Monday Night at City Hall and I look forward to hearing public comment. The item is listed last on the agenda since it was a last minute addition, but I will be requesting that it be moved to the front of the agenda encourage public participation. Thanks.

Mom99 said...

Thanks John! If we don't buy up property now, it will be gone forever. The city should buy every bit of vacant land that is available today, the price of land will never be this low again.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I am over the moon with this move. I think it was a great decision by the City. Bravo!!!

just.breathe said...

I'm thrilled the City was able to secure this property! I agree with Mom99, this was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up.

Robespierre said...
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Robespierre said...

"Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets."

Ronald Reagan

Five million dollars is lot of monies to be cavalierly spent by the same people who brought us a city motto that was already copyrighted by another township. This is asinine!

Joe Seconder said...

Thank you for investing in our future!

themommy said...

This is a great move.

Across the country, municipalities are trying to buy up vacant land and derelict commercial complexes that are an eyesore (or worse) in their communities.

Simply preventing the development of more multi-family housing in that area has tremendous value as well.

Robespierre said...

This so idiotic! We would be better served if a private party purchased this land. They could build houses there or if it's recreation you want, they could build a Putt-Putt golf course, a baseball express, a bowling ally.

All these private enterprises would have generated tax revenue as well. Instead we pay five million dollars of our hard earned money on it and have to pay to annually maintain whatever we build.

"Every time the government grows we lose more of who we are."

Glenn Beck

Robespierre said...

In fact that's where a private party could build a water park.

Robespierre said...

Why doesn't our big government city council and mayor stop looking to buy up useless land and start trying to do everything they can to build our tax base and keep from raising property taxes? Allowing a private party to purchase that land would help us to build our tax base.

We have Brookrun already. We don't need any more city parks!

“The most beautiful thing about a tree is what you do with it after you cut it down”

Rush Limbaugh

Bryan Smith said...

What would be great is if Dunwoody could get the old Chamblee Middle, there could be a more valuable master plan overall, with greenspace on either side of Chamblee Dunwoody, and an opportunity to do something bigger and better in terms of parks and recreation, soccer, tennis, etc.

jag9244 said...

Greenspace... hah...
These people cannot help themselves.
I can't wait to hear how great this 200 million dollar gubbermint offix park is going to be.
No worries, it is an investment...

Rebecca Barria said...
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Rebecca said...

This is good news. Great foresight on the part of the city.

Of course, my assumption is that 3 million is an adequate reserve for a city our size. If it weren't, I couldn't imagine the council approving such a purchase.

GaryRayBetz said...

I guess with me being the dissolute being that I am, that it would be contingent upon me to suggest the most controversial, albeit abundantly beneficial, use for the soon to be purchased 16 acre stretch of land colloquially referred to as the "PVC Farm". My
suggestion is that with the State of Nevada now looking to outlaw
prostitution, Dunwoody could address this pending privation by
developing, if you will, a sort of "pleasure dome" on the "PVC Farm"

I would anticipate this proposition to be laden with benefits thrice-fold:

Financially - this enterprise would more than copiously increase the tax base for our fair city.

The Arts - this live menagerie would amply supplant and surpass the stuffy old Georgia "rock & roll" hall-of-fame museum proposal.

Humanitarian - by establishing a business model of this type, we could address the mental health issue of loneliness going hand-in-hand with positions of power, as our state politicians would no longer have to feel
like they are the only whores in Georgia.

As always, I trust my fellow citizens will consider my recommendation in a most broad-minded manner.