By Maria Saporta
The City of Atlanta is holding up the potential sale of the historic Adair Park School in southwest Atlanta to a developer because of its dispute over how much money the city owes the school system for the Atlanta BeltLine project.
The Atlanta Board of Education held a board meeting Monday night when it was to approve the potential sale of three properties to developers.
But Superintendent Meria Carstarphen explained that there was hitch with one of the three properties over the deeds of who owns the land. The school system used to be under the control of the City of Atlanta before it became an independent system.
“We thought we could get the deeds of those properties to sell them,” Carstarphen said. “We got the deeds for two but not one. They told us they are no longer going to receive our requests to get the deeds for these.”
Carstarphen went on to say that APS wants to honor and respect these communities.
“The Adair building has been closed since 1973,” she said. “I can’t close a deal if I don’t have a deed.”
She said selling vacant schools is one of the many “small and big steps” that the district must make to give the “city what it deserves.”
Adair Park is a historic community that dates back to 1892. It has become one of the up-and-coming communities on the southwest side because it is right on the next leg of the BeltLine that is being developed – the Southwest Trail from Washington Park to Adair Park.
“This is not a new issue,” City of Atlanta spokeswoman Anne Torres responded in an email when asked about the situation. “Since 1996, the City of Atlanta has held the deeds to a number vacant elementary schools, including Adair. More recently, the transfer of these vacant properties was proposed as part of a global solution to the APS/BeltLine dispute by the previous Superintendent, Erroll Davis.”
She then added: “The City is currently reviewing the request.”
Developer Stan Sugarman is negotiating with APS to buy the historic George W. Adair School, which was built in 1912. The building has a leaky roof, and the neighborhood has been wanting it to be repaired or renovated.
Sugarman and his business partner Atticus LeBlanc received an “Award of Excellence” from the Atlanta Urban Design Commission for being part of the redevelopment team that worked on Kirkwood’s historic Pullman Yard.
At the APS board meeting Monday night, Adair Park resident Matthew Garbett spoke out in favor of Sugarman as a buyer for the school. He also urged the school board to be sensitive to preserving the historic properties that it owns and that it intends to sell.
Carstarphen said she was sympathetic with members of the public who spoke about how APS has handled surplus property.
“The theory was to get the district to maximize all of its revenue streams,” Carstarphen said, adding that she understand why residents in neighborhoods are “sick of looking at APS buildings in their communities that in some cases are historic and in some cases need to be brought up to code or need a new home.”