Coolray Field in Georgia was approved for construction by Gwinnett County commissioners in 2008. Since that time, the Atlanta Braves’ AAA affiliate home field has generated less revenue and cost more than originally anticipated. The final cost of the stadium was $64 million, which was a much higher figure than the $45 million in the original budget.
Local officials had claimed the property would pay for itself, but approved a three per cent car rental tax to help repay the $33 million debt for the stadium. This may not be enough to repay it.
Property developer Brand Morgan had planned to build a complex which would include hotel, retail, office and residential space on the site. One of the owners of the properties that would be needed for the development does not agree with the plans and says they are unrealistic. The alternative proposal is to replace the commercial buildings with apartments instead.
Commissioners thought building the stadium would be the spark that would generate more developments in the area. In 2009, Morgan released plans which included 610 apartments, 300 hotel rooms, 617,000 square feet of office space and 351,000 square feet of retail space that would be located on 73 acres next to the stadium.
Morgan has only started work on the 248 apartments. The project has been stalled because of the poor economy. He also faced the difficulty of only owning 54 of the 73 acres he needs for the original plans. Morgan had an option to buy an additional 19 acres of property owned by Garland Roberts, but they have not been able to negotiate the terms of a sale.
Roberts now wants to sell the property to another developer, Marty Orr. Marty has asked the county for permission to replace most of the commercial buildings included in the previous plan with apartment units. Orr’s plan also includes some commercial businesses, including an auto parts shop, general retail stores, a fast-food restaurant, and a car wash.
Some local residents have contacted the planning commission to protest the proposed changes and pointed out they were promised an upscale commercial property development in the area. Morgan may still be able to acquire the property he need to go ahead with the original plan for development and is hopeful the project will go ahead in the next couple of years.
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