It’s now being marketed as “Smyrna Grove,’’ but what will the former Hickory Lake apartments become?
It was in December 2010 when the completed its purchase of the four-decade old and crime-riddled apartment complex on Windy Hill Road near South Cobb Drive.
To acquire the 47 ½-acre property, the Smyrna Downtown Area Development Corporation (SDADC) issued a $15 million bond. The purchase price was $9.5 million, $4.1 was needed for demolition expenses and the remainder was for related costs.
Critics, including Mayor Max Bacon’s two opponents in November’s election that Bacon won with more than 75-percent of the vote, have been vocal in chastising the city for entering a risky venture using taxpayer money.
Bacon and the city have been steadfast in their action as the mayor again reiterated Tuesday, “It was best what we did.”
Not long after the purchase, Gordon Mortin, the bond underwriter for the city at SDADC, announced that the purchase of Hickory Lake had resulted in an upgrade in the city’s bond rating.
What has taken much longer has been the demolition process. A year after the purchase, the asbestos removal is now complete, but about 20-percent of the buildings that housed the 726-unit apartment complex remain.
Also in place are the sidewalks and roads on the property, although they were originally slated to be removed, as well. They will now stay and Bacon said he recently took Smyrna’s four new city council members on a tour of the property.
“There are a lot of trees and it’s really a beautiful piece of property,’’ Bacon told Patch. ”You know, if we left it as it is, it would be a beautiful park.’’
Of course, a park is not the ultimate goal with the Atlanta brokerage NAI Brannen Goddard marketing the property. Part of those marketing efforts includes the new name, “Smyrna Grove,’’ for Hickory Lake. Also new is a 33-page offering memorandum detailing all that the property, Smyrna and the surrounding region has to offer while touting Smyrna Grove as a place that “provides a unique opportunity to achieve a successful redevelopment based on its location and community support.”
The potential uses listed include, “corporate campus,’’ “mixed-use development,” “shopping center,’’ “medical/hospital,’’ “sportsplex,” “government,’’ or “education.”
Indeed, organizers of the Smyrna Academy of Excellence have made it known that they would like to purchase the property for its school campus, which is slated for a July 2013 opening. Bacon says he would welcome the school, while acknowledging that city has received interest in the property from industrial, manufacturing and hospital companies, too.
Ernie Williams, Stan Williams and Chad Koenig are exclusively marketing the property for NAI Brannen Goddard. Koenig said they have been taking inquiries both from the local and national level.
“The overall interest in the property has been steady,’’ said Koenig, acknowledging that Ernie Williams is one the “top land brokers in Atlanta.”
According to the city, the property’s list price is $17.5 million and NAI Brannon Goddard will be paid a 5-percent commission of the final sales price, once the property sells. That is in line with fees charged by commercial brokers. All expenses, including the marketing materials, are included in their commission.
Said Bacon, “We’re not going to give the property away. Once we get the rest of these buildings down, it’s going to be a very marketable piece of property. We’re going to find a good revenue-producing company for our community, or a company that provides a very needed service for our community. Whatever it is, we’ll find the right fit.”