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Development authority to approve $100M in bonds
by Bobby Tedder
February 22, 2014 05:48 PM | 3718 views | 1 1 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Officials have opted to move forward in their efforts to issue taxable revenue bonds for Gateway, the JLB Partners redevelopment project on Roswell Road near Windsor Parkway.

The Sandy Springs Development Authority voted unanimously to authorize new board Chairman Chip Collins to allow attorney James Woodward to draft the necessary documentation to initiate the process at its meeting last week at City Hall.

After making the rounds — including the Fulton County Board of Assessors — the matter will return before the authority for final approval. The duration of the process is expected to be about eight weeks, Woodward said.

The value of the bond —the fourth to be issued by the authority — would total about $100 million.

Considering the significance of that sum, talk of taking measures to inform residents about the issue surfaced at the meeting.

“I would suggest that we come up with a clear layman’s elevator summary of this that’s presented to the public, ... [to] get it out on the front end,” said Collins. “If [the public hears] the city’s floating a $100 million bond, people that don’t hear the full story and only get it in bits and pieces ... might go nuts.”

JLB officials sought to further clarify the terms.

“What [the public] will see is the city’s giving the developer $100 million, said Hudson Hooks, who heads up Southeast development for the Dallas, Texas-based firm.

“What they need to understand is the city’s not giving the developer anything. The developer’s coming up with all the money to do this project on their own. ... That’s the point.”

The city also struck what is being called a mutually beneficial deal worth $3.7 million to cover the cost of road construction flanking the redevelopment site.

The authority’s vote is the latest step in a series of decisions aimed at bringing the JLB project to fruition. The Sandy Springs City Council paved the way for the proposed major gateway makeover to Roswell Road in July by approving the two separate components on the table.

After exhaustive public comment sessions, council members turned in twin 5-1 votes, including allowing JLB to build the mixed-use development featuring 600-plus upscale apartments, retail and office space. The council also approved the realignment of the intersection of Roswell Road and Windsor Parkway.

All tenants previously living in the existing aging apartment complexes on the site of the targeted area — Versailles and Chastain — have since been relocated through the management company on site, according to JLB officials.

The average rental rate for the residential units to be built there — up to 950 square feet each — will approach $2,000 per month, Hooks said.

“The abatement has begun on the southernmost apartment complex and within the next three weeks, you’ll start to see buildings coming down,” he said.

The retail portion of the JLB project is expected to open by April or May 2015. Multi-family units should be available by the end of next summer, thus completing the end of Phase 1 of the development. The second phase is expected to be completed 36 months from then, Hooks said.

The previous three bonds issued by the authority were associated with the Half Diamond/Perimeter Community Improvement Districts project and those involving The Davis Academy and The Weber School.

The city of Sandy Springs has no long-term bond obligations in regards to the Gateway endeavor, city spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said.

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