Parking lot owner asks $12 million for stadium site

7:35 PM, Oct 24, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- The site is an empty gravel parking lot just a few feet south of the Georgia Dome. But it sits in the footprint of the new Falcons football stadium site. Which means that to the Florida man who owns this otherwise unremarkable plot, it's worth millions.

"We've had hotel experts say it could be as much as $25 million," said Charles Pursley Jr., the property owner's attorney. "I'm not saying that's what we'd ask for the property. I'm just saying that's the magnitude of things."

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The lot is long and skinny and a bit misshapen. It's less than 74 feet wide; it's nearly 300 feet long along Mangum Street. Despite its size and shape, Pursley says it has lots of money making potential.

"To develop a hotel, I believe, is absolutely plausible," Pursley said. He says there are hotels elsewhere in Atlanta with smaller footprints.

Pursley said the property owner, Larry Zaglin, has commissioned a design for a 25 story building that Pursley says, could be built on the parking lot. That use, Pursley says, makes the property more valuable than the offer the state has made for it: $1.2 million dollars. The counteroffer made this week: $12 million.

The state is expected to give notice Friday that it will use eminent domain to seize the property. A spokeswoman for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority would only describe the talks over the land as "ongoing."

Pursley says the property has been in Zaglin's family since 1902, when his grandfather founded a flour and livestock feed mill there. It was a neighbor to historic Friendship Baptist Church, which agreed in September to give way to the new stadium for $19.5 million.

"We're looking for fair market value and just compensation for this piece. I don't really care what the other people got," Pursley said. "We're not basing any part of our valuation on what other people have negotiated."

Pursley says he's just looking for a fair price for a piece of land that he says is much more valuable than it looks.

"We're trying to come up with something everybody can live with, and be equally unhappy if you will," Pursley said.

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