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Avondale Estates mayor: Property purchase sign of better things to come

Avondale Estates

Avondale Estates mayor: Property purchase sign of better things to come

Avondale Estates Mayor Ed Rieker

Avondale Estates Mayor Ed Rieker

Avondale Estates Mayor Ed Rieker said the city’s purchase of downtown property that’s been vacant for years is a sign that the city has regained some economic momentum.

Rieker said the 4.09 acres located along Oak Street, Franklin Street and North Avondale Road has been a drag on the city’s development prospects.

“It has been a deterrent to development because it just has put us in kind of a stuck place,” Rieker said. “There’s nothing in the buildings. It’s not attractive. It’s kind of holding everything up. Now that it’s been unlocked we’ve seen things unlocked in Avondale.”

Pallookaville, a trendy new restaurant serving gourmet corn dogs, opened downtown in 2013. Another new restaurant, The Bishop, will open sometime this year. A new record store, Sunbrimmer Records, will also open its doors in 2014.

The city acquired the 4.09 acres for a lot less than the developer paid for it.

Developer Century/AG LLC had bought the property for $10.9 million in 2007. The company’s plans for a mixed-use development with a Publix Supermarket as an anchor store fell through. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2010.  Avondale Estates was able to purchase it for $1 million, even though it was recently reappraised at $2.3 million.

“We bought it from the bank that had it and they wanted to get it off the books by the end of the year,” Rieker said. “This was the quickest way to turn that into cash. They were a motivated seller.”

Rieker said the city paid for the property through a lease agreement with the Georgia Municipal Association. The mayor said under the terms of the GMA lease, the city paid $200,000 up front and will pay the balance over the next five years.

There was an additional parcel on nearby Maple Street that Avondale Estates did not buy. The developers cleared some of the land and had begun to build before the money ran out. Rieker said the word on the street is that property, also owned by the bank, is under contract.

He said the city plans to partner with a private company to redevelop former Publix mixed use site and along with the 13 acre Fenner Dunlop mill property. He said the city’s downtown master plan, which it will adopt early this year, has undergone an extensive public input process. Residents have recommended a mix of residential and office space, restaurants and green space, he said.

“We’ve had hundreds of citizens participate recently in the downtown master plan update,” Rieker said. “There has been a lot of thought and public comment put into that plan.”