Dunwoody now has an official agreement with a private developer to move forward with a revitalization project that could help one of the city’s long-struggling districts.
At its June 11 meeting, the City Council unanimously approved an agreement with John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods for the Project Renaissance agreement, a project that includes a proposal to swap portions of the 16 acre city-owned PVC farm and the 19 acre Shallowford hospital site.
The complicated land transaction is called “Project Renaissance,” a plan that will blend parks, residences, retail in order to reenergize the city’s struggling Georgetown commercial area.
The agreement will cost the city will be $6.1 million and the developer will pay $6.37 million for city property, City Manager Warren Hutmacher said. The city also previously purchased the PVC farm for $5 million, Mayor Mike Davis said.
Davis said the project will be a win-win for the business community and residents.
“We think this is transformational, and will be catalytic for the entire city,” Davis said.
The council also approved the purchase of the first three parcels of the Shallowford site, with Councilman John Heneghan casting the only “no” vote. He said he was “disappointed” that information about a pre-existing lease on the property was not in the documents given to the council before the vote. The lease will not expire until 2022.
The cost of the first three parcels, totaling 8.1 acres, will be $3.7 million.
In other business, the council in its work session discussed a request by the city’s Board of Ethics to hire an outside attorney. The ethics board is considering a complaint filed against Councilwoman Adrian Bonser for allegedly leaking information from a closed meeting, known as executive sessions. The sessions concerned Project Renaissance.
Bonser has denied the allegations and said the report was a waste of taxpayer money.
Former city attorney Brian Anderson resigned after the council threatened to terminate him, also for allegedly leaking information from executive sessions concerning Project Renaissance.
The ethics board has requested Richard Carothers serve as its attorney. McLendon recommended the council honor the ethics board’s request.
Heneghan asked why the current city attorney, Cecil McLendon, will not handle the complaint, and Mclendon said he thought it best to follow the ethics board’s request. Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch said she was concerned an outside attorney might try to take advantage of the situation and charge the city more money.
The investigation that prompted the complaint, led by outside attorney Bob Wilson, may cost upwards of $50,000.
McLendon said he doesn’t expect Carothers to try to squeeze the city for unnecessary costs and said the independent counsel will ensure the integrity of the process.
“It is not a bad idea to provide assistance, to make sure it goes forward appropriately,” McLendon said.