DeKalb County commissioner Elaine Boyer called the proposed redevelopment of the Doraville GM plant a tax increase for county residents.
DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis envisioned the project as a way to kick start the county’s economy with the potential to create 9,000 jobs.
At the Aug. 24 commission meeting, the commission voted 5-2 in favor of Boyer’s substitute motion to deny the project.
A motion was made to accept the project, but Boyer followed with the substitute motion, which was quickly seconded. Only commissioners Connie Stokes and Kathie Gannon voted in favor of the redevelopment.
“I don’t support giving away $36 million to a private Florida company, and it’s a tax increase,” Boyer said the day before the meeting. “The citizens don’t gain anything except a promise. It’s like believing in the tooth fairy.”
In a press conference Aug. 23, Ellis said the project was a risk he was willing to take.
“I don’t think this is a gamble, but it is a measureable risk,” Ellis said. “We can’t sit on our hands, and hope and pray that good will come. We have to be proactive. We’re putting people back to work. The biggest risk is to do nothing, sit back and wonder when the economy will pick up.”
The proposal would have partnered the county with Florida-based developer New Broad Street. The project would have cost $60 million, with $35 million paid by the county. The county’s portion would have been paid with federal stimulus bonds, much of the money spent on demolition clean-up of the plant.
The vote essentially kills the deal with New Broad Street.
“We can’t do the project without help from the county,” said Blake Peeper, vice president of New Broad Street. The deal is likely to go away if the county votes no.”
The proposal was for a 5.5 million-square-foot development with three to six stories, which would tie into the Doraville MARTA station. The project was to be a mixed-use development of residential, retail and commercial space.
The development would have brought $191 million in tax revenue for the county over the next 30 years and $372 million in taxes for the school system, according to Ellis.
The plan called for the county to repay the bond at $800,000 a year at the beginning of the project, and that cost would rise to $1.8 million per year later in the cycle.
Boyer was wary that residents would see an increase in property taxes had the deal been approved. According to Boyer, the GM project called for residents to pay annually an additional $2.45 on a $200,000 home for the first three years and $4.90 a year for the next 27 years.
The tax increase for commercial property owners would be $4.90 annually on a $200,000 business for the first three years and $10 for the remaining 27 years.
Boyer said stimulus money can be used on other projects such as the water and sewer infrastructure for the South River or the construction of a police training facility.