DeKalb County, GA, June 20, 2016 – by Mark Williams for The Post – Based on documents obtained via Open Records, Integral Group, the owner of the former General Motors (GM) property in Doraville, has rejected a formal request for documentation showing the work performed in the planning of the GM site redevelopment. Integral Chairman and CEO Egbert Perry writes school officials he has met with individually, have “repeatedly misconstrued, misrepresented or ignored” the way tax allocation districts (TADs) and tax increment financing (TIF) work. He writes he rejects a DeKalb County School District (DCSD) board request for information. Instead, has asked for the school board to allow him to make a formal presentation in person, in a public and transparent setting.
Perry’s May 25th letter is in response to a May 17th request from DCSD legal counsel, Nelson, Mullins, Riley and Scarborough, asking Integral to provide answers to a series of questions regarding the TAD and the “Assembly” project. (See letters embedded below)
In Perry’s response, he adds the volume of documentation would be burdensome to provide and accomplish little. The Integral CEO also suggested several reasons why DCSD had no need to assess the prospects of his project, controverting DCSD Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green’s concern over what he considered “speculative, unpredictable real estate projects”. (See https://brookhavenpost.co/dekalb-schools-superintendent-has-reservations-participating-in-doraville-tad/35801/)
Perry states the school system will do no work or contribute to the TAD financially—therefore suggesting that due diligence on the Assembly plan is unnecessary. The crux of the back-and-forth debate has been, and the letter repeats, whether making a “financial contribution” is from current or future tax revenue. Perry states that there “will be” considerably more revenue than with any development other than Assembly and refers to eight years with nothing built on the site. DCSD legal counsel in fact questioned that assertion, asking how Integral came to their conclusion.
Nelson-Mullins’ May 17th request asked how long infrastructure (such as a planned railroad underpass) could be on the site before any significant private work created demand for it. TAD proponents have long suggested that those should only be the concern of bond holders, implying that it does not matter if infrastructure goes unused as long as the bonds that paid for it are not taxpayer responsibility. Dr. Green also told the Post that the extent of environmental liability (on the GM site, not the TAD per se) would have unknown significance to government participants. The Nelson-Mullins letter asks for Integral’s environmental assessments.
Even if the school board was interested in TAD participation, the school system would make no direct approval of development projects, only approving the use of its tax millage. The school system will have no contracts with developers within the TAD. DCSD would have a place on a TAD committee related only to public infrastructure approvals and bond-related matters. However, the fact that the GM site represents sixty percent of the TAD (an area or “district”) and eighty-five percent of the $293 million tax increment, could explain why the Integral Group has acted as a representative of the government subsidy plan and rationale for Nelson-Mullins querying the developer, not Doraville officials.
The Open Records Request filed by The Post, included a request for all communication between DCSD officials, the City of Doraville, Integral Group and its subsidiaries. We have only received information related to the aforementioned May, 2016 transmittal to date. The extent of the communication between these players has not been confirmed as of the time of this post.