By David Pendered
Terms of the deal for the Falcons stadium underscore the risks inherent in a delay in Atlanta’s sale of the bonds to fund the stadium, even as the Atlanta City Council appears to be in no rush to abandon land the state seeks for the stadium.
The Falcons can terminate the deal if Atlanta hasn’t sold bonds and deposited into the appropriate account at least $200 million by Sept. 30. The Falcons can back out if the former Herndon Homes public housing site isn’t made available for surface parking. There seems to be no mention of what happens if Atlanta declines to abandon its property.
On Wednesday morning, the Atlanta City Council’s Utilities Committee is slated to convene a work session to discuss the proposed abandonments and the configuration of streets in the stadium area. However, the street configuration has already been determined – at least as far as the Falcons site is concerned, according to terms of the deal.
These details and a myriad of others are contained in the instruments signed Feb. 5 by Frank Poe, executive director of the GWCC Authority, and Rich McKay, president/CEO of Atlanta Falcons Stadium Co.
The Transaction Agreement contains a termination section that provides terms for each party to the deal to back out – Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm; the GWCC Authority; and StadCo.:
All three can agree at any time to terminate the project;
Another term states the Falcons can terminate the deal if the old Herndon Homes public housing community is not made available for use as surface parking. The Georgia World Congress Center Authority is to exercise “good faith efforts” to lease or license the land.
Herndon Homes was built during World War II and named for Alonzo F. Herndon, founder of the Atlanta Life Insurance Co. The Atlanta Housing Authority demolished the community, of about 500 homes, in 2011 with plans to sell the property.
Since Poe and McKay signed the documents on Feb. 5, events seem to have turned against the stated plan to close the stadium deal by July 31. Here’s the timeline:
- On Feb. 4, the state filed routine legal papers, through the Fulton County District Attorney, that would authorize Atlanta to issue up to $278.3 million in bonds to finance the stadium – $200 million for the stadium and the rest to cover interest and other costs;
- On Feb. 4, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Granville agreed to hear the petition on Feb. 17, setting the stage for a speedy bond issuance;
- On Feb. 10, opponents filed legal papers to stop Atlanta from issuing bonds for the stadium;
- On Feb. 17, Granville agreed the intervenors should have time to build their case, and set a hearing date of April 10. The intervenors have indicated they will appeal if they lose in Granville’s court – which could delay a bond issue well toward the end of this year, presuming the bonds are validated.
Several major events could be impacted by road construction and church demolition planned near the Georgia Dome and GWCC, according to the projected timeline:
- The Martin Luther King Jr. Drive viaduct has already been severed, though demolition was not completed by the Feb. 14 target date;
- On March 17, three streets are to be closed to all traffic – Georgia Dome Drive, Haynes Street, and the Mitchell Street Connector;
- On March 17, the demolition of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church is to begin.
Temporary lane closures on portions of Northside Drive and Mitchell Street could affect events including:
- This weekend’s Bronner Brothers International Hair Show and SuperCross;
- Georgia wrestling on March 1;
- The Mexico v. Nigeria soccer match on March 5;
- The SEC Basketball Tournament starting March 12, and so forth.