Friday, September 13, 2013

Reed: Deal reached with both churches for new stadium; congregations have final say

Posted By and on Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Mount Vernon Baptist Church agrees to make way for stadium for $14.5 million
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Mount Vernon Baptist Church agrees to make way for stadium for $14.5 million
Mayor Kasim Reed today announced that a deal has been struck with the final church whose property is needed to build the proposed $1 billion Atlanta Falcons stadium south of the Georgia Dome.

The leaders of Mount Vernon Baptist Church, which is located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in the shadow of the Dome, have agreed to sell the church for $14.5 million, provided the congregation gives its blessing to the deal.

Friendship Baptist Church, a historic church located across the street, has already agreed to an asking price of $19.5 million with the city. That deal is also contingent on parishioners' approval.

The general area south of the Georgia Dome was early on considered the preferred site for the new stadium because it's close to two MARTA stations. But reaching a deal to build the athletic complex there has been difficult. Mount Vernon in July balked at the state's $6.2 million offer for the church and its land, which it wanted to sell for $20.4 million. (By law, the state can't pay more than the fair market value of property.)

Falcons executives started considering another site north of the Georgia Dome, on Georgia World Congress Center property, after negotiations dragged on past a self-imposed Aug. 1 deadline. But Reed announced shortly thereafter that the city had brokered an agreement with Friendship Baptist and later announced that Mount Vernon was willing to sell for less.

Today he announced that the Falcons would contribute $8.3 million to the state's offer to help meet the church's asking price. A Falcons spokeswoman says that cash is in addition to the team's previous financial commitments to the project.

Both churches are expected to vote in the coming weeks on the deals. Should they reject the offers, Reed said today that the city would "stand shoulder to shoulder with the Falcons and we are not going to revisit this."

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