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Waste Watchers: Smyrna might lose millions on redevelopment gamble

7:37 PM, Oct 8, 2013   |    comments
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  • Smyrna City Council member Ron Fennel
  • Downtown Smyrna
  • Smyrna's Hickory Lake Apartment complex in 2010
  • Former Hickory Lake Apartments property in 2013
  • Smyrna's Hickory Lake Apartment complex in 2010
  • Former Hickory Lake Apartments property in 2013
  • Downtown Smyrna
  • Smyrna City Council member Susan Wilkinson
    

SMYRNA, GA -- Three years ago the Cobb County City of Smyrna spent over $16-million to buy and tear down a crime-ridden apartment complex as a redevelopment investment.

Interest and real estate commissions could add another $2-million to the price tag.

Now the question is whether the city could end up losing millions of dollars on the deal.

Hickory Lake Apartments on Windy Hill Road was a problem area when Smyrna bought it in the fall of 2010.

Today its 94 buildings are gone and the 48 acres sit vacant, waiting for a buyer.

Monday night the city council quietly tabled an offer from a developer reportedly worth $13-million, which could have meant about a $5-million loss.

Mayor Max Bacon was out of town Tuesday and unavailable for comment.

City council member Susan Wilkinson, who was not in office in 2010, made the move to table the proposed deal.

She said that's because it's not completed yet.

Eleven Alive asked her if she and taxpayers should be concerned over the potential loss of millions in city investment.

"I am concerned about the loss, but as we look at our options, I'm on the task force and we generated a lot of interest in the property," she said.

Like millions invested in the center of town the past few decades, another council member said money isn't the only gauge of successful redevelopment.

Ron Fennel told 11 Alive the city the complex was not only an eyesore, but also drained many city services.

"The police department, fire department, the truancy squad, domestic violence, the drug squad and we can't afford to have a single address drawing down city services," he added.

Some long time residents who live near the now vacant property said they're glad the crime ridden area was cleaned up, no matter what the cost.

"Anything would be an improvement over that, over what it used to be, even if they lost money," said Sarah Jones.

Because the sale deal has been pulled off the table for now, it's still not clear how much, if any, money Smyrna could lose on the investment since it's still being negotiated.

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