By Maria Saporta and Douglas Sams
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on March 20, 2015
After Atlanta voters approved overwhelmingly a $250 million infrastructure bond March 17, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will move forward on the sale of the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center property and other city real estate assets.
The city is negotiating with up to three development teams that submitted bids to buy and redevelop the 20-acre downtown site — having asked them to submit their final and best offers.
A preferred bidder recommendation is expected to be presented to the Invest Atlanta board in late spring, according to a spokeswoman for Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm.
The city has not released the names or the proposals of the teams that have submitted bids.
But the mayor has previously said the initial bids were less than what the city had hoped to get for the property.
In an editorial board meeting with Atlanta Business Chronicle in January, Reed said the highest of the bids was $32 million, which he called “still a significant offer.”
The mayor did say the developers had presented strong redevelopment proposals.
“The plans are fantastic,” Reed said at the time. “What they are trying to do is to get the best price. They just want the city to take a loss or to get a reduction from the appraised value that I probably won’t agree to.”
During that meeting, Reed also disclosed that after the formal bids had been turned in, he had received an offer from an unidentified buyer to acquire the Civic Center for $42 million.
The mayor said he would ask the city attorney whether it would be possible for the city to accept the more lucrative offer.
“According to the Law Department, we would not be able to accept the higher offer,” city of Atlanta spokeswoman Anne Torres wrote in an email on March 18. “The city would have to rebid again.”
To start all over with a new bid process would likely delay the sale process by months and potentially risk that the project misses the heart of the current development cycle.
So the best the city can hope for is that the existing bidders will sweeten their offers and present redevelopment plans that will revitalize the area.
In addition to price, the city is considering the number of jobs and type of developments being proposed.
Different plans for the site are thought to include a combination of film and video production facilities, entertainment venues, offices, a hotel, retail and a multi-family residential development.
Atlanta Business Chronicle previously reported, according to sources in the development community, that the three teams which submitted bids to buy the Civic Center site were:
Atlanta-based developer Carter, part of a team including EUE Screen Gems Studios; its plan could possibly involve film and television studios and post-production facilities;
Jones Lang LaSalle, part of a team featuring comedian Steve Harvey, who hosts the TV game show “Family Feud,” currently filmed on the Civic Center campus; and
Ackerman & Co., founded by Atlanta developer Charlie Ackerman, also has submitted a plan to redevelop the Civic Center. Ackerman previously had the rights to develop the property dating back to 1986.