Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Task Force NOT booted from Peachtree-Pine

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 1:13 PM

The Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless just got another in a long series of 11th-hour reprieves, although this one cut it closer than most. Ordered by a Fulton County judge to vacate its Peachtree Street shelter by tomorrow, the group learned yesterday afternoon that an emergency stay on their eviction order had been granted by the Georgia Court of Appeals.

You can read a point-by-point breakdown of the Task Force's motion on Atlanta Progressive News, but all you probably need to know is that, until the appeal has been decided, Anita Beaty and crew won't be kicked out and the United Way won't be taking over.

I'm told the appeal is expected to move faster than the original case did, with the likelihood that oral arguments could take place by summer and a ruling could be issued before the end of the year. However, I also understand that lawyers for Premium Funding Solutions, the company that actually owns the Peachtree-Pine property, are planning to file a motion asking Judge Craig Schwall to order the Task Force to pay rent and utilities while his decision is under appeal.

You might recall from a previous post that Schwall seemed to regret allowing the Task Force to stay in the building rent-free, so he could conceivably rule in favor of the defendants getting paid.

What would a 100,000-square-foot building rent for? Even at $5 a square foot — far below market for Class C office space — we're talking $6 million a year. I'm guessing that wouldn't happen.

The most interesting question to me regards the scope of the appeal. It's a sure bet that Task Force attorney Steve Hall will try to introduce evidence of a city-wide conspiracy reaching to the highest levels of government and industry designed to strip the shelter of its public and private funding. Judge Schwall didn't rule on any of that stuff, so the layman barrister in me thinks the appeals court won't consider it, either — which wouldn't leave the Task Force much of a case.

If the court does decide to hear the conspiracy evidence … well, I just hope they know what they're in for.

I'll have updates as they come, folks.

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