From: TOM OWENS, Candidate for Georgia House District 79
Recently the City of Doraville and Dekalb County inked an agreement (contingent on the DeKalb School System's participation) to sell $293 million in bonds for financing the redevelopment of the old General Motors plant. Proponents of the deal claim success based on the Atlantic Station model, which went bankrupt during the recession, stayed in limbo, and resulted in a charge against the City of Atlanta's credit.
The Doraville TAD has none of the advantages of the Atlantic Station project. The only development requirement of the TAD is that 40% of the housing units will be subsidized by HUD for low income renters, leasees, and home purchasers who earn a maximum of 80% of the mean income for the Atlanta Metroplitan Statistical Area. This excludes buyers who make over $30,000.
These income restrictions will result in development of cheap unattractive housing units inundated by refugees, welfare recipients, and other groups who have little or no interest in progressing above their present income level. This low income scheme will drastically reduce the sales value of the remaining 60% of the proposed housing and destroy the value of the surrounding neighborhoods.
The lowest number of housing units proposed is 10,000 with a high of 14,000. The result is a minimum of 4,000 low income units. Only the first 20%of these units will be financed by HUD. The second 20% will be financed from the first 10% of the income from the sale of other properties within the development.
This imprudent scheme destroys the financial viability of the whole project. Income from the project goes back to subsidize further low income housing rather than debt service and will cause the project to spiral down into financial destruction for both the project and surrounding neighborhoods. For example, a home which should sell for $150,000 would be subsidized from this pool of money down to what the buyer could afford, roughly $50,000 with the DeKalb taxpayer paying the $100,000 difference. This scheme is economic suicide and will follow the DeKalb property owner long after the proposed 25 year finance schedule.
Proponents claim high end shopping and class A office buildings--- not a chance of that happening. This development will be strictly low end shopping like Dollar General, Target, and thrift stores. The normal mixed use development will flee the area.
To exasperate the problem proponents advocate a tunnel connecting the existing MARTA station to the property which will result in the same kind of problems known to Lenox Mall.
The building site is an environmental nightmare with no Federal clean up assistance. DeKalb tax payers will pay for the cleanup and the cost is open ended. (Bear in mind the advocates propose to build a public school on top of this toxic dump.)
The total debt service is projected to be between $500-$600 million yet the developer is only required to invest $8 million in development cost along with escape clauses which allow him to evade his responsibility by selling, assigning, or bankrupting against his obligations. DeKalb has no escape. This is public bonding debt and it will follow you in property taxes until paid in full with far ranging consequences to DeKalb and nearby Gwinnett neighborhoods.
Editor Note: Mr. Tom Owens is a Candidate for Georgia House District 79.