General Motors is coming back to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners after the board shot down a $60 million proposal to redevelop the automaker’s massive shuttered factory in Doraville.
GM officials were scheduled to meet individually with commissioners Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 – the first such contact county officials have had with the Detroit firm since factory development talks began.
Commissioners said they agreed to meet with GM officials because GM owns possibly the most important commercial site in the county, not because they had any intention of reversing their 5-2 no-vote on Aug. 24.
“If they’re coming with the same plan with the same circumstances, there’s nothing they can say that can change my mind,” Commissioner Elaine Boyer said.
The plant proposal would have partnered the county with New Broad Street, a Florida developer that was seeking $35 million in assistance from the county to build a 5.5 million-square-foot development of residential, retail and commercial space. The county planned to use federal stimulus bonds to finance its end. The county would also use a tax increase to raise an additional $18 million for interest payments.
The project was a major part of county CEO Burrell Ellis’ plan to create jobs in the wake of the current economic recession. Ellis said he believed the project could have created about 9,000 jobs.
“That alone made this a good deal,” Ellis said. He said he regretted the board’s decision. “We live in a complex economic environment. Government is being called on to get people back to work. … This had a way of jump starting the economy by putting people back to work.”
Commissioners have discussed a range of uses for the undedicated stimulus bond money from water and sewer infrastructure to a new police training academy.
“We may be able to do some good with it. It’s an impact question,” Ellis said. “The impact won’t be the same. … (The GM plant) would have been a showcase project.”
Commissioner Jeff Rader said he was unsure what GM expected to get out of the meetings and was unsure whether GM planned to present new conditions to the county.
“If you had a problem in your neighborhood and wanted a meeting, I’d meet with you. I think that it is significant though that this is the first time that we’ve met with them,” he said. “They’re an important and strategic landowner in DeKalb County, and we want them to do things that will be in the county’s long-term interest.”
GM officials could not be reached for comment.