Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Oconee County Industrial Development Authority In Discussion Again With Potential Gateway Business Park Tenant

***Also Told About New Bond Sale***

The Oconee County Industrial Development Authority is in discussion with a potential purchaser or leaser of at least part of the eastern parcel of its Gateway Technology and Business Park on SR 316 on the southern edge of Bogart.

Following a 30 minute executive session last week, the Authority came back into open session to vote to transfer to the county an easement that would allow the county to extend sewer services to the parcel.

County Attorney Daniel Haygood, who participated in the executive session, said most of the time in the closed meeting was devoted to discussion of the proposed contract for the property.

Haygood said the sewer easement is part of the negotiations.

The Authority has had similar discussions about sale of the property in the past that have not materialized.

Haygood, following the executive session, also told the Authority that Westminster Presbyterian Homes Inc., which is building a large continuing care retirement community at the intersection of U.S. 441 and Hog Mountain Road, will be asking the Authority to issue an additional $10 million in bonds.

Haygood said Presbyterian Homes has “almost completely sold out” its existing inventory at its Presbyterian Village Athens and wants to add units included in the original plans but not part of the construction that is underway.

Presbyterian Homes Confirmation

Alex Patterson, president and CEO, Presbyterian Homes of Georgia, confirmed to me in a telephone conversation on Feb. 13 that he will be asking the Industrial Development Authority to issue bonds for an addition to the facility now under construction.

John Daniell, Haygood, Courtney Bernardi

Patterson said that Presbyterian Homes, when it submitted its plans to the county, had scaled back on the building that originally was to include 100 apartments. The county issued a permit late in 2018 for a building with 71 units.

Now, according to Patterson, Presbyterian Homes will put what he called an “end cap” on that three-story building, making it a complete rectangle with a courtyard, increasing the size to 100 units.

Patterson said Presbyterian Homes has “93 percent pre-sold” all apartments and cottages in the complex under construction.

The bond sale will be private, Patterson said, meaning a buyer has been identified and the sale will not be open to the wider bond market.

Haygood told the Industrial Development Authority at the Feb. 10 meeting that he will be setting up the required TEFRA hearing on the bond sale.

The Authority, as a unit of the county, is able to issue the tax free bonds under the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) of 1982, but it must allow citizen comment before it does so.

Sewer Line

After coming out of the executive session, the Industrial Development Authority at the February meeting voted to transfer the sanitary sewer easement on the eastern parcel of the Technology and Business Park from the Industrial Development Authority, the current owner, to Oconee County.

In a conversation after the meeting, Haygood confirmed that the discussion in the executive session was of a potential purchaser of the property and that the transfer of the sewer easement is to demonstrate for that potential buyer that sewer capacity will be available.

Haygood said he expected some future announcement about the negotiations in about a month.

The Authority has owned the roughly 120 acres that make up the business park since 2000.

The property is split into four noncontiguous parcels, two small ones south of SR 316 and two large ones north of the highway.

The two larger tracts are separated by a 29-acre parcel owned by Andersen-Wells II LLC of Watkinsville that the Authority has tried, without success, to purchase. William L Ulm Sr. is the registered agent.

Further Extension of Sewer Line

Alexion Pharma of New Haven, Conn., purchased 11 acres in the eastern parcel of the business park in late 2016 for a pharmaceutical production and research operation.

So far, that is the only successful sale of land in the business park.

The county provides sewer services to Alexion Pharma, and Haygood said the easement granted to the county is for an extension of the sewer line that serves Alexion Pharma.

The undeveloped part of the eastern parcel is just under 40 acres.

Haygood said the county will seek to extend the sewer line to the western parcel as well.

Other Action

The beginning of the Feb. 10 meeting was truncated so that the Authority could go quickly into executive session.

Before the Authority went into the closed session, County Finance Director Wes Geddings provided a financial report for the Authority and recommended that the Authority consolidate its accounts, now spread across four banks.

Watkinsville Mayor Bob Smith, attending his first Authority meeting in January, had suggested that such action be taken. Smith was not present at the meeting on Feb. 10.

The Authority authorized Geddings to proceed with the consolidation.


I attended the meeting on Feb. 10 but mistakenly did not record the part of the meeting before the Authority went into executive session.

The short video below is of the meeting once the Authority came out of executive session and announced the action it had taken.

County Attorney Haygood made his announcement about the bond sales for Presbyterian Homes in that part of the meeting that followed the executive session.

Those comments are recorded in the video below.

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