Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed seeking higher price for Civic Center siteMayor Kasim Reed responds to questions from reporters
By Maria Saporta
A sale of the Civic Center will not happen unless Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed gets an offer he can live with.
The city has acknowledged that there are two finalists still in the running to buy and redevelop the 20-acre site that includes the Atlanta Civic Center.
But after a luncheon speech at the Commerce Club on Tuesday, Reed acknowledged that he is not ready to move forward with the current offers on the table.
The issue came up when the mayor disclosed his intention to take control of the property known as the Peachtree-Pine homeless shelter. There has been speculation in the real estate community that the proximity of the Peachtree-Pine shelter has depressed the property values in the area.
“I can close the sale of the Civic Center without addressing Peachtree-Pine,” Reed said, adding that he has been willing to shut down the homeless shelter earlier in his administration. When the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless had not paid its water bill, Reed was prepared to shut off the water – a move that would have closed down the shelter. A philanthropist then came forward to pay the shelter’s delinquent water bill.
When asked about the status of the possible sale of the Civic Center, Reed said that the city is still negotiating with two finalists.
“There is a price that I’m not going to sell the Civic Center below,” Reed said. “If they don’t reach a number, we are not going to do a deal. I’m not in any rush to sell the Civic Center. We don’t need the money so we can be very thoughtful.”
Reed also downplayed the possibility of the Atlanta Hawks building an arena on the site.
“It is not primary,” Reed said. “You can be assured that the Hawks are not driving Peachtree-Pine.”
Reed said the Civic Center sale was on hold until the city gets the offer it wants.
“I’m not going to dispose of a city asset unless we get that,” said Reed, who did not elaborate how far apart the offers are from his bottom-line price. “I candidly believe that the Civic Center site is pretty precious.”
As previously reported in the Atlanta Business Chronicle in a June article, the two finalists include a dominant Houston-based real estate investment trust – Weingarten Realty Investors, and another group led by TV host Steve Harvey, who already has been taping the show – Family Feud – at the Civic Center. Harvey has joined with Ceasar Davis, CEO of Anthony Global Development.
At one time, it was thought that the two teams could combine, but people close to the process have said the finalists’ proposals remain separate.
The city has sought to redevelop the civic center since the economy began to recover a few years ago.
In the June article, a city spokeswoman said the city wanted to identify the winning bidder for Civic Center and close on the process by the end of August. Earlier this year, the mayor said the highest offer the city had received for the Civic Center site was $32 million. It is thought the mayor would like to sell the property for nearly $10 million more than what had been the highest bid.