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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

City eyes possible Atlanta Civic Center sale

The Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center
City officials are getting ready to sell the Boisfeuillet Jones Atlanta Civic Center in the coming months.

Ideas for the 47-year-old arts and entertainment venue in the Old Fourth Ward have been tossed around for years. But with the economy rebounding, and Mayor Kasim Reed trying to free up cash for an estimated $250 million infrastructure bond package, city officials have grown eager to shed the 16-acre property from from its books.

Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall on Monday introduced a paper that would give Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development arm, the power to sell the property. The right project could create 2,000 jobs in the heart of Old Fourth Ward, he says. But it'll take some creative thinking to find the ideal use for the site.

"What else could we do with it? What could be done creatively to position the property to create more jobs?," Hall said. "We could offer a new retail and restaurant experience, maybe some housing or hotels, and ideally an improved or new events facility. We'd still keep the film and video industries active and maybe expand to include digital and gaming."

Invest Atlanta will be tasked with handling proposals from developers and selecting the winning bid. Once sold, the property will give the city a quick cash infusion as well as potential tax revenue. Fulton County property records show that the Atlanta Civic Center is worth an estimated $21.9 million.

Hall's proposal, which lays out an 18-month timeline to complete the deal, will now work its way through Council's full legislative process. But if passed, Interim Chief Operating Officer Michael Geisler tells the AJC the site could be sold as early as this summer.

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