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Lilburn City Council OKs DDA Loan for Blue Rooster Property

Downtown Development Authority purchase aimed at getting tenants into the building as soon as possible, officials said.

Lilburn City Council on Monday approved a $40,000 loan to the Downtown Development Authority for the purchase of the Blue Rooster Cafe property, a move aimed at getting new businesses into a hallmark Main Street building in order to shore up others in Old Town Lilburn.

The DDA will pay $160,000 for the property, DDA Chairman Norman Nash said at the council's work session. That's half the initial $320,000 asking price from the seller, a bank. Once it has aquired the building, the DDA aims to lease it to a restaurant operator or two as quickly as possible.

The building has been vacant and bank-owned since the cafe closed shortly after Christmas last year. People have expressed interest in leasing the space, but no buyers have materialized, said Doug Stacks, the city's planning and economic development director. The bank can only sell the building, not lease it.

"That building is so key to everything," said Councilman Johnny Crist during the work session.

"We hope we can get a restaurant in there a little quicker than through normal channels," Councilman Eddie Price said.

City council on Monday night also:

- Adopted a zoning resolution that "cleans up" an old ordinance and makes it clearer and more concise. Stacks pointed out that it gives property owners and developers opportunities that didn't exist before. It reduces the space required in front of houses, so that residents can add on to the front of their houses.

- Approved a fund balance policy that creates categories within the general fund to comply with state law.

- Corrected the title for Kaleigh Frederick to assistant to the superintendent/absentee balllot clerk (from absentee ballot clerk) for the Nov. 8 elections.

Richard Ferris October 11, 2011 at 01:03 PM
A "well done" to the City Council for such positive action. This effort will benefit the merchants and all the people of Lilburn.
RL October 11, 2011 at 01:18 PM
So, The City of Lilburn is now in the commercial real estate business?
Tiimothy Dunn October 11, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Our thanks to the Downtown Development Authority for pursuing this property and purchasing it for development. The DDA, as a State of Georgia constituted entity, is able to hold title and manage the property, which the City of Lilburn could not do. The City cannot be in the real estate business. The City's loan will be paid back as the property becomes commercially viable.
David Adams October 12, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Good job DDA. The main street area of Lilburn is much like an outdoor shopping mall. Similar to the forum, on a different scale of course. One important aspect of a shopping mall is consistancy regarding the hours. You cannot close up shop in a mall and simply go home because it is 5 o'clock and you've been open since 10, or sometimes even later. In order for the area to be come a viable market, (assisting all of the shops) hours should be 10 to 7 m-f, resturants later. Saturday 10-6, or even 7 o'clock. Sunday optional. It is very important for the customers to be able to rely on the shop being open after making the trip. I know there have been reasons why this may not have been done in the past, but It is one very important component for the business on Main street... Good Luck!!! David Adams
Porter Deal October 12, 2011 at 04:02 PM
I have to say this was an unwise move on the part of the DDA and the City of Lilburn. The city loaning the DDA $40,000 make the deal look like they are buying the property for $40K, the purchase price is much more. So now the DDA, the city and the taxpayer have another project to manage. The bank that owned the property had other buyer looking at it and had strong interest from private buyers. Now the city will have no property tax revenue, will have to insure the property, maintain it, and find a tenant for it. Porter Deal
David Adams October 12, 2011 at 04:49 PM
Lets see if we can blow the smoke out of the air and make sense of Porters comments. Some of what you say is true at the present time. The property will not produce tax dollars as I understand it, and the DDA will be responsible for finding a tennant. At the present time this is true. However it is not the goal of the DDA to hold the property indefinitly. The real concern is to protect the viability of the main street area, and prevent it from becoming of no consequence to the 6,000 plus cars per day that pass through the area, and to the other folks within the community. As to the comment that the City would attempt to make things seem as though the city would pay 40k for the property this very article states that the DDA would pay 160k for the building. Lastly the bank that holds the property is of no obligation to place the property under contract with the DDA when they have other "serious" buyers. My belief is that the DDA will produce a product on the site that is in keeping with the market along main street. Something that will add value to the area. Have a Big day! David Adams
Theresa Waldrop October 12, 2011 at 05:52 PM
David, that's a good point -- if the DDA buys it, it will have control over the type of business that moves in.
RL October 12, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Just what don't need - government "control" over a private business. Why do people like big government so much?
David Adams October 12, 2011 at 06:38 PM
RL, your comments on "control" are of great importance to me as well. Many people feel just like you that we actually want much less government control and regulation in our lives and businesses. In this case the merchants and property owners along main street have expressed concern that the bank may "unload" the property to virtually anyone who would put up the cash without regard to the end use of the property. In shopping centers and malls (my comments earlier), the management company is primarily concerned with "tennant mix" before all else. The wrong use in a market can change the entire function and ultimatly the use of the other merchants by the public. I think that is probably the "control" that Theresa was refering to. The spotlight will now be on the DDA to complete the picture. No pressure. David Adams
Porter Deal October 12, 2011 at 10:11 PM
I share RL’s issue on government “control”. When using taxpayer money you need to exercise the highest level of responsibility. We don’t have any guaranty that what we have lost will out weigh the gains. I believe we had a high level of control over the property thru zoning and code enforcement without spending $160K. If the merchants and property owner along Main Street are so concerned let them use their money to purchase the property. Protect the taxpayers first. Porter Deal
David Adams October 12, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Well, then there's that...however it doesn't seem as though the tax payers are in any grave danger. The police department still operates at a high level of results, traffic moved along hwy 29...but the main street area, the historic area of Lilburn if you will, still had cars motoring by with out thought of stopping...Since I understand you to be running for office, maybe this would be a good time to share with the merchants, owners, and patrons of the former resturant, and the shops along main...would you suggest that there is no role of the city officials in the renuing the area? I can tell you that many planners would say that scraping and redevelopment is the best course. Since developers don't see the dollar return in the area, is it better the City do nothing, and let the decline naturally happen? How would you address this?
ajarnbangkapi October 13, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Please allow a mild(ish) contrarian comment - It is a slippery slope when Government decides to enter the real estate market (as I understand it) IN LIEU OF public services. It is my understanding that there was a hiring freeze in the police department implemented simultaneously (multiple openings) with this foray into real estate. In an environment of limited and possibly constricting resources (economy, lawsuits) is this the most prudent use of public funds? Replenish Police staffing, or enter the less than robust 2011 real estate market? Which is the wisest use of public funds?? I would be keenly interested in the candidates views on this for the upcoming election for Mayor and two city council positions.
Tiimothy Dunn October 13, 2011 at 08:06 PM
Revenue Bonds DDA, O.C.G.A. §§ 36-42-9, 10 & 11.      Revenue bonds, notes or other obligations issued by a DDA shall be paid solely from the property (real, personal and revenues) encumbered to secure the bonds or obligations. The DDA board must adopt a resolution authorizing the issuance of the bonds. Obligations of authority not public debt, O.C.G.A. § 36-42-12.       The debts of the DDA are not binding on the municipality, nor may creditors compel the performance of the taxing power [City] to repay the indebtedness. #The City is into this for a $40,000 loan to the DDA. A small investment [not out of the Police budget]. If this property can become revenue [tax] producing and an attractive destination for folks who will linger and shop, we probably will be able to increase the Police budget. I'm just sayin'. The DDA, comprised of Lilburn residents and Lilburn business owners, is responsible for the property.
David Adams October 17, 2011 at 04:11 PM
Thanks for making that clear in my mind as well. I don't claim to be an expert on local Government operations, it is helpful to understand how things work before making up your mind on a position. As revinues increase within the Lilburn City coffers, there will be more room for additional funding for services such as Police. Although limited...there is a role for Government in our local areas, and I believe that Lilburn has kept the tax burden low compaired to other areas, an example would be, free trash pick up, for years? When areas decline retailers leave, shoppers go to different markets, and tax revenues decrease. Ergo, no raises in services. Sorry but that's how it works.

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