TAD discussed for Battey Business Center

Wednesday, March 27, 2024–6:04 p.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

The former Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital site may become the City of Rome’s newest redevelopment area, eligible for Tax Allocation District funding, although the discussions are in the very early stages.

Missy Kendrick, Rome-Floyd Development Authority CEO, told the Rome Redevelopment Committee on Wednesday that the cost of redevelopment is so much higher than what it was expected to be, and that she wanted to “test the waters” to see if there was interest in a TAD.

The hospital closed in 2011 and sat vacant until it was purchased for economic development in 2021, using $2.25 million in special purpose, local option sales tax funds. The development authority received a $500,000 federal grant to assess the asbestos, lead paint, and groundwater for the site, which was renamed the Battey Business Center. The goal is to establish a new industrial park.

The development authority also received a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Project Funding grant in the amount of $5.61 million. However, according to Kendrick, the estimated cost of mitigation on just the lead paint and the asbestos is around $5.4 million.

“We still have to come up with money to demolish the buildings and come up with an entrance,” she said.

As part of the rezoning for the property; the Rome City Commission approved a condition that the entrance be off of Division Street, not Charlton Street. Kendrick added that selling the old houses on the property is not a feasible option to raise the money that is needed.

“If we sold those houses, even as is, there would have to have work done on them since they have sat vacant since 2011,” she said. “There would have to be mitigation done on each of the houses. So, the people buying them would have to take responsibility for doing that mitigation. Again, you’re not going to be able to sell them for $100,000 under that scenario.”

Under a TAD, any increase in property taxes stemming from improvements is funneled back into a project for a set number of years. The taxing entities would have to agree to forgo the money.

The property is in a less developed census tract, which is one of the requirements for TAD funding. According to Rome City Manager Sammy Rich, when a property has some extra conditions that make it difficult to development, a TAD is often a tool that is used to offset those costs.

“From a private investment perspective, somebody is going to have to tackle those issues to really make this a useable property,” he said. “As Missy stated to the committee, as a government and a quasi-government entity, we are the most likely candidate to be able to help transform this property to really get it back into productive use and on the tax rolls, and hopefully with some great paying jobs for the community.

The committee voted to begin the process of studying a TAD for the area to see if it makes sense for the city.

The next step, according to Rich, is to hire the KB Advisory Group, which has assisted the city in the establishment of other TAD districts.

“We’ve had really good luck working with that group, Geoff Koski and his team,” Rich said. “I will reach out to Geoff and we will kick this one around. We will probably end up back here at a future meeting to talk through some scenarios and what that would look like.”

One of the issues to be determined is whether the redevelopment area would include just the former hospital property or a larger area.

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