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City to buy 2 Retention Ponds in Tech Park for $2.85 Million

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In a 6-1 Vote, Mayor and City Council decide to purchase several parcels equating ~15 acres of the “TPA Lakes” and ~5 acres of land for a “passive park”. The scenic vertical park has sidewalks around the retention ponds. One parcel 1.3 acres is not adjacent to the others, and is north, across another street. All highlighted in green, below.

The lone descenting vote was Councilwoman Stephanie Endres. She stated the need to review and approve the Parks and Rec Plan the city paid thousands of dollars for and have not yet discussed. She would have preferred it be tabled till the Parks plan is finalized. The seller, Tech Park Atlanta (TPA) requested a quick closing, 4 days from the council vote and received their asking price.

According to Fulton County Property Records, all parcels purchased are Flood Plain. The City documents did not include this information, but stated that “the appraisal considered “useable” in terms of commercially useable. The city can use portions of stream buffer and lakes as well.”

City Manager Warren Hutmacher thought this purchase would be a good park and some of the lake area could be converted to land. The cost of doing so was not discussed. He also stated this could be an event and festival location that could hold up to 11,000 people. There was no Discussion of parking for the park or for large events during his presentation either.

TPA_Lakes_sale
Green = Land City Purchased ——————–Blue = Land owned by Aga Khan

 

This purchase falls in line with what the Urban Design consultants envisioned. Except within the UDA plan for park space, the largest parcel 5.7 acres (Blue Square) was Not purchased by the City. It is owned by the Aga Khan Foundation.

TPA bought that parcel in 2004 for $433k, and during the recession in 2009 sold it for $2.2 million, more than 5x the previous sale price, to a group founded by Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. This parcel is not in the flood plain, and remains undeveloped. In 2009, was rezoned for an Islamic Facility.

Within the UDA Plans, Aga Khan’s parcel is a sports field and a bridge over the retention pond is connecting Findley Rd through to Lakefield Dr and JC Parkway. Will the City purchase Aga Khan’s land to expand the park with open land and build a bridge? Or will the owners develop an Islamic Facility as they petitioned and were granted?

Currently, the City is in the process of adding another traffic light at Findley Rd & 141. This would be of benefit for these prospective plans.

UDA_lakes
UDA revised plans June 2015

The Mayor mentioned Old Fourth Ward a few times when discussing the possibilities of this land.

The City’s press release described this land purchase as pivotal. Vital or of critical importance to who?, for what? 

This land purchase should spur development around the park, increase land prices and inch the City closer to the District plans.

Sources: City of Johns Creek & Fulton County Property Records


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3 thoughts on “City to buy 2 Retention Ponds in Tech Park for $2.85 Million”

  1. Is it just me or does Johns Creek seem to pay premium prices for property?

    Morton Road Pocket Park
    Supertower Land Behind Pikes (aka the Bodker Barn site)
    TPA Parkland purchase along the busiest route in Johns Creek.

  2. I believe the city is in need of park land, I just feel this was a bad purchase. The total purchased acreage was 20.364 acres. Of the 20.364 acres, 15.24 acres of this purchase is underwater which is unusable as a park feature short of visual aesthetics.

    The land purchased is primarily within flood plains. What are the issues when it comes to flood plains? It means that no structure such as restrooms, pavilions, or paved parking lots can be installed in these areas thereby limiting its use.

    When the 2 retention ponds from Parcel SE6A comprising 15.241 acres are removed from the 20.364 acres there is 5.123 acres left spread out over three different areas for actual parkland. This is all that the city should have purchased if they determined this area was in agreement with the city Park Plan.

    Out of this actual land purchase, the 5.123 acres has a value according to the city’s own documentation of $2,395,000, which is $467,499 per acre. This cost is in excess of the city’s maximum average per acre park land purchase price of $450,000, with over 1/3 of this land contained in a flood plain.

    According to the city, by purchasing the parcel that contains the 2 retention ponds (SE14) it has a considered value since the city could acquire an irrigation income from this parcel. Is our city now getting in the water service business? In order to sell irrigation water the city will need to install piping to the properties looking to purchase the water. It will then need to install water meters to determine how much water the customer is using.

    The city will need to maintain the meters and piping in order to fulfill the irrigation contracts. The retention ponds are at the lowest point in the area thereby requiring a pump station or water tower in order to distribute the water to the customers. This entire business venture does not only have the initial cost of the infrastructure installation, but will then require a whole department with staff to manage and maintain this venture.

    In the last couple of months, the city has purchased Cauley Creek Water Reclamation Plant (133 acre park) and this current parcel with the 2 retention ponds. As far as I can see, the city now controls the sewage and storm water runoff for the entire Tech Park Area. With this control it now has the ability to develop “The District” in the form that was presented last year.

    With changes coming at this week’s council meeting to current zoning ordinances and possible acceptance of the Economic Development Plan, the city is establishing the groundwork for the implementation of “The District” without it ever having to be voted on by the city council or ever requiring a zoning variance.

    It is all being hidden under the guise of the city has fulfilled the citizen’s wishes and purchased park land, while in reality it is just laying the groundwork to build “The District”. I feel like I am watching the Wizard of Oz here. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”. While we all want park land this feels like the city performing a bait and switch on its citizens.

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