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26 Comments

  1. 1

    RAJ

    Sorry, still no sale on the TAD! What has not been mentioned to this point is that most of the GM site is probably unbuildable from a Soil Geology stand point at a realistic construction cost for high density(multi story) development. Yes I know, you can build most anything any where these days if your construction budget is unlimited. Such is NOT the case when you have to put $250M – $300M up front for infrastructure to get access to the site. The developer has pulled over 100 core samples on this site to test for contamination,soil type, hydrology and other information. Not a word about the low marshy grass land with farm houses on a few high spots before WWII. The GM factory floor was built on pilings to support the weight of the assembly activity above. True, we don’t have the test data ,but the developer and prospective tenants do and is this beginning to look like a money pit for the School Board and the taxpayers?

  2. 2

    Eddie E.

    All true.
    But the 5 points listed should be the starting point for ANY misdirection of School System funds.
    Point 5 should happen immediately but given the general sense of cowardice in the majority of the Legislature, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

  3. 3

    Saul

    I guess you remember the two sinking GUS dorms that sank 4″ and 9″ and that was back in 1995. A mistake in calculations was made and a less expensive foundation was specified based on soil conditions (decaying granite). Building on a swamp is not a problem but will require additional site work, specialized drainage and a beefy foundation. This additional work is not cheap. This site is best left to a developer that can self fund the project from start to finish. But you know elected officials and development authorities, they can do what they want with your money and yet they have no responsibility.

  4. 4

    Janine

    The very first line of this commentary is most accurate. It goes downhill right after that.

  5. 5

    Redevelopment Powers 101

    You had me until the ‘restore full funding’ of the school system. Superintendent Green should reform the pension system before his budget is increased…not ‘restored’.

    What kind of nightmare have we created that a School Board should have a majority position on a Real Estate Investment Board? And, if they provide the funding, they should have a majority position on a Real Estate Investment Board.

  6. 6

    Tom Doolittle

    Ms Gevertz is on the right track and I thank her mostly for opening up a line of thinking for discussing fundamental issues about what I call “schools-in-TADs”. NOBODY has addressed Green’s principled objection–and I suppose Chairman Johnson’s. That is, school systems and supporting private sector land development (likely, even for charter schools) live in different universes. This goes to state officials’ and media outlet irresponsibility at addressing “schools-in-TADs” established controversy all over the US. Dr. Green’s argument is just as legitimate philosophically (whether you agree or not) as the argument FOR such things.

    The argument is also legitimate LEGALLY (Constitutionally) in Georgia–I don’t know about any other state. The 2008 Supreme Court decision held for the first time that the law, which automatically turned school millage over to TADs was unconstitutional. This of course led to a constitutional referendum which was passed that in part required a choice to made officially by school systems in order to participate. Regardless of the effect of that law, however schools systems have voted (the effect if you will)–it cements the LEGITIMACY of the argument.

    Why is this important–it reflects the primary problem that Ms Gevertz mentions. The school system’s position must be acknowledged, particularly by officials that presumably weigh all constituent interests and concerns–on all points, including the TAD (which is different that the likely risks associated with Assembly). To not do so, the officials are simply the same as the salespeople that have DIRECT vested interest in both Assembly AND (this is critical) the development of Doraville’s Downtown, which is also in the TAD (the deal that Assembly proponents have made with Doraville).

    For the only daily newspaper to not acknowledge the issue and then research and report national trends is an absolute abrogation of responsibility, especially because the AJC has a monopoly market position. It has never even MENTIONED the Supreme Court case(s). It has never mentioned that California outlawed TADs specifically due to the impact on school systems. It has never interviewed academics and public interest groups with copious research on the subject.

    Lets be candid: These acknowledgements have not been honored by proponents because to do so opens a can of worms that either would show that the all or nothing position of threats and conjecture over the failure or abandonment of Integral’s plan is indefensible. They would chew off an arm rather than admit this.

    They would rather abandon the TAD (and abandoned modifying it) and sell the project to a developer that can bring market-rate finance to the table–or develop to a lesser degree (meaning find developers that aren’t violating the market)–and let the media and The Atlanta Way power structure to blame “failure” on the school system and DeKalb (adding that to what I call the “slash and burn list” of DeKalb’s failures.

  7. 7

    Old BHSer

    The Olympic Village over at GA Tech? That later became GSU dorms and are now GA Tech’s? There’s also the Leaning Tower of Power – GA Power’s HQ has a bit of a lean… just a wee bit of granite under most of the metro area.

  8. 8

    Tom Doolittle

    BTW–it serves to note Mayor Pittman’s letter to the board with several so-deemed concessions. The letter was handed to Maria Saporta for a Biz Chron article (er editorial)–and can’t be found on the city’s website. That includes a $6 million annual Payment-In-Lieu-of taxes (PILOT).

  9. 9

    Saul

    Yes to the granite, but the problem is the saprolite granite which can be strong in one location but weaker yards away. Not all granite is the same. Classic example is the blue granite found in the old Armour Ottley Industrial Park. Some of the hardest rock around.

  10. 10

    Bob Sorrentino

    I always shudder when my geotech reports come back recommending piling. Because I know I will then have to tell my management that the approved budget is blown (and that is always a fun meeting)

  11. 11

    TSB

    I agree with your sentiments….there needs to be transparency about what is or is NOT happening. While I believe Dr. Green is a great superintendent, I think he and the Board are myopic on the issue of negotiation. Dr. Green wants to remind us of the story of the Little Engine that Could…..before reading time in my school, there was always time to remember how to be nice to one another, meaning if you had a problem with another student, try TALKING TO THEM.

    To create a broken down negotation, BOTH SIDES must be intractable. I’m not sure about meetings with Pro-TAD leaders have been held when the Doraville mayor came out publicly and said she couldn’t get a meeting. And I’m equally not sure that everyone has the same definition of the word “meeting” in this context since it may be that the developers would like the DCSD to sign an MOU first before real constructive discussions can begin. I’m just curious though–if the meetings were held and one side gave the other the bird, why haven’t we heard about it? What downside could there be for DCSD for releasing such information? All I hear is that people can’t get meetings with the decision-makers. Why haven’t the developers offered to hold info-sessions with parents at every school in DeKalb and pay for pizza so that the parents can get their questions answered? Why hasn’t the DCSD publicly thrown out such a plan for public consumption?

    Regardless, the sides need to talk and talk now because I believe there remains hope for collaboration, compromise and success for a greater DeKalb and to spur education in DeKalb like we’ve never seen. For example, I heard–out of the horse’s mouth–yesterday that the developers are willing to cut a check (like tuition) for every student their ideal plan puts in the schools. Could that be part of a successful framework? Sure. It would take more….much more. But the number of seats on the Board is–by itself–not and shouldn’t be a dealbreaker. For example, if the offer was to give DCSD 5 seats but capped the school spending at 10% of the money, DCSD would reject that–as they should. There are many, many ways to come to a deal….but DCSD won’t know and the developers won’t know until they TALK.

    Would the developers lease 6 acres of land to DCSD at $1/year for 30 years so that DCSD could build a STEM highschool? Would the developers help fund the school? Would they work with partners for the funding? Would the developers be willing to require every lessee to provide a sliding scale number of internships for DCSD juniors and seniors? Would the developers be willing to remove MARTA necessity spending–or enviro clean-up costs–or both–from the TAD allocation? Would the developers work with Emory–another DeKalb product–and pay for scholarships for every valedictorian of each one of DeKalb’s 22 high schools that otherwise is accepted to Emory to attend Emory? Would Emory agree to hold a spot?

    We won’t know unless they TALK

  12. 12

    TSB

    They don’t live in different universes. Sure, the focii are different but your post underscores the same universe–they are all cogs in a big machine. For example, well done school systems producing a well-educated workforce–with nowhere to work–don’t last long because the products move away. And I’m not going to even start on the legal legitimacy bit…..just as I’m not going to start on whether the ESPLOST list is legally sufficient. Is anyone even arguing that education needs LESS money? I’m not sure I understand why it is important to acknowledge legitimacy of Dr. Green’s position–isn’t it enough that we recognize that he is and should be waving the flag for kids, including mine?

    Public schools and large business ventures are partners–they need to ACT like it. I’m not sure why acknowledging the school system’s position of “we are never going to do it” (if that is in fact DCSD’s position) is necessary, just as I don’t think it is necessary for Dr. Green to acknowledge Integral’s position. What needs to happen is real discussion to see if a deal can be worked out–and public response to transparent negotation. If ever there was a time when I support a government trip to Reynolds Plantation, this would be it.

  13. 13

    Dave

    I’m slow when it comes to finance, but here goes:

    If this Assembly thing and its little brother, downtown Doraville, are surefire successes, why not borrow money on the market for the infrastructure? Would it be because developers have gotten spoiled by governments falling over themselves to get in line for “development” and throw money at the sound of the word? Or would it be that the project doesn’t make economic sense if self funded?

    Doraville’s “Plan B” makes a lot more sense to me, businesses that think they will benefit self-tax by way of a CID. Private money for private benefit. Public money for public education.

  14. 14

    Tom Doolittle

    Now the letter can’t be found in Saporta’s report or the ABC. Wierd, huh?

  15. 15

    TSB

    I’d be curious to see that if you’ve got it saved anywhere.

  16. 16

    Saul

    You haven’t lived until you see a V shaped, eight story concrete formed building where one wing has had the sand blown out from under it by a hurricane and what was the SOG resting on nothing but pilings with the ocean flowing fifteen feet below. Thankfully, the pilings and SOG were still sound. That was a fun fix that please.

  17. 17

    Tom Doolittle

    She refers to it here….this article also claims a meeting with Green, but wants another.
    https://brookhavenpost.co/doraville-mayor-clarifying-misconceptions-about-the-assembly-tad/38377/

    Also, the real issue now is an open presentation to BOE. Green is not the “decider”. BTW, his press statements have always been characterized as “positions”, rejections, policies–he has none of those. He has published his opinion and recommendations.

  18. 18

    Tom Doolittle

    Mayor’s letter located by Editor. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8BNHYGS0nbfdzhwTXpBWG9WbHM/view
    Its these kind of secrecy games that we have come to expect. Have to do screen captures before things disappear. You have to wonder why–probably because it could be considered official without the city council. Thanks Trey.

    To the letter–I was wrong about a PILOT. They are simply offering a sum of 5% of incremental taxes–presumably once per year. It’ll just go as an admin expense likely. Lets see, 5% of about average of $12 million a year equals $600,000. I must have missed a decimal place. Of course, it’ll probably go on a sliding scale, from about $100, 000, hit $600,000 in about Year 18 and move on from there.

    Also, they have some funky way of saying 58% of millage equals 4/9 seats. Obviously they think its 58% of something other than full millage. Maybe comes from the fact that they’ve OFFERED (hmmm) for DCSS not to pay for city buildings–we’d delete the whole downtown thank you very much.

    BTW–its a “thank you” letter for meeting with her, so obviously the beef about not meeting is not the issue. It’s really about making a presentation to the full board. No negotiations would be expected before that of course–and likely the board would just say no anyway. That of course would be followed by The Atlanta Way “This is the Olympics” forces resuming hostilities, complete with press coverage.

  19. 19

    Tom Doolittle

    Also Green met with Perry around May 1. Meetings aren’t an issue. A presentation and a vote is what is missing.

  20. 20

    Marjorie Snook

    The sinking dorms were well-documented. It’s been a headache over the years: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/427955/2-OLYMPIC-DORMS-MAY-GET-MEDALS-FOR-SINKING.html?pg=all

  21. 21

    City-Weary

    Brookhaven Post: Please research and report on this issue (“What has not been mentioned to this point is that most of the GM site is probably unbuildable from a Soil Geology stand point at a realistic construction cost for high density(multi story) development.”) I think it would be very good information for citizens to have, particularly if Integral is trying to use DCSS as a scapegoat.

  22. 22

    The Brookhaven Post

    We will see what we can do. Info has been hard to come by regarding DCSD on Assembly site.

  23. 23

    Tom Doolittle

    Oh the cynicism–Goose/gander and two sides of same Repub-lotician mouths:

    Although I’m in COMPLETE agreement about having projects listed for the ESPLOST, I find the same set of players are inconsistently applying the “List Standard” and “Category–No!” complaint to the Doraville TAD’s “category only” to the $293 million TAD.

    Here are the categories from pg 31 of the TAD Redevelopment Plan–official legislated backing for the TAD’s TIF account:

    Doraville TAD Infrastructure Budget (page 31 from the Doraville Redevelopment Plan)
    *Transportation and mobility enhancements $123,550,000
    *Site Specific development activities $24,710,100
    *Area-wide infrastructure improvements $37,065,000
    *Public space, landscaping, lighting and other improvements $37,065,000
    *Other redevelopment initiatives $24,710,000

    Total $247,100,000

  24. 24

    ART

    BP – you may want to add the sinking of the Doraville MARTA Station foundation, the cracking of the elevated transit track pylons, and the the adjoining parking lot repairs/rebuilds to your research stack.

  25. 25

    RAJ

    The only possible known existing document is one from the New Broad Street era(circa 2010)and this would be tough to get since it was not available in discovery in a Civil Suit filed in DeKalb Superior Court. 11CV6151-5

  26. 26

    RAJ

    Sorry TSB but you are living in a small universe. Big picture is that Green has been involved in 7-8 of these TAD’s(TIF’S) in Kansas City and knows the drill very well. In this case he is protecting the board from having to make an unnecessary decision that has consequences that are well known since one DeKalb County Commissioner has publicly stated that if DCSS approves the Doraville TAD equal treatment is expected for a similar project on the South side. Then the flood gates are wide open, and you can bet Dr Green is getting e-mail support from school superintendents across the State of Georgia.

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