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Fulton district chooses new Heards Ferry site
by Everett Catts
September 27, 2013 04:07 PM | 2594 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(UPDATED AT 3:30 P.M. SUNDAY WITH INFO ON KBS)

Fulton County Schools has selected a site for its new Heards Ferry Elementary School campus in Sandy Springs.

In a conference call with the media Friday afternoon, Patrick Burke, the district’s deputy superintendent of operations, announced it will purchase a 14-acre commercial site owned by KBS Strategic Opportunity REIT, located at 6151 Powers Ferry Road near Interstate 285.

KBS Strategic Opportunity REIT is a public non-traded real estate investment trust owned and operated by KBS Capital Advisors, company spokesman Phil Diment said in an email Saturday. Both are affiliates of KBS, a Newport Beach, Calif.-based owner and operator of commercial real estate.

In January the district announced a plan either move Heards Ferry to a new campus and expand the adjoining Riverwood High campus onto that land or to redevelop Heards Ferry’s campus. Residents of the south Riverside Drive-area neighborhoods, where six homes would have been purchased, some possibly through eminent domain, criticized the district for that choice. The district eliminated that location from its list of possible new sites in April and continued its search before selecting the KBS one.

“We have an agreement with the land owner at this point,” Burke said of the site, one of 25 when the process began. “The Georgia Department of Education has approved the site. Typically we would not announce until the board has given the vote to acquire. However, the property in question is a commercial property, and part of the process of buying a commercial property is the tenants and tenant relocation. We’ve been successful with some tenants and not so much with the others.”

Burke said the district may use the threat of eminent domain to remove some of the 14 tenants from the KBS site in a timely manner.

“There will be a sign going up on that site Monday, to announce the board may have a hearing Oct. 15 to proceed with eminent domain,” he said.

The KBS site currently has a six-story, 130,000-square-foot building that will be demolished once the district purchases the property.

Buckhead-based Collins Cooper Carusi Architects Inc. will design and build the new Heards Ferry campus, which will include a three-story structure with a capacity of 850 students, Burke said. It will have room for 53 to 55 classroom spaces including media center and a gym. The current campus has 42 classroom spaces and capacity for 625 students.

Of the site, Burke said, “The number of options are few and far between that really met the requirements. I think we worked very hard to find the most viable option.”

Burke said he hopes the district breaks ground on the site in spring 2014 and it is expected to open in August 2015.

In an email to her constituents this week, District 3 Fulton school board member Gail Dean said, “It will be a state-of-the-art, three story school similar to [Sandy Springs’] Lake Forest Elementary and Ison Springs Elementary.”

The plan to rebuild Heards Ferry’s campus and expand Riverwood’s was approved when voters passed the district’s E-SPLOST IV, a 1 percent sales tax devoted to school construction, in November 2011.
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