The Union Recorder

August 6, 2013

State property conveyance pieces finalized

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — The State Properties Commission (SPC) received three legislative documents Monday that create an adequate mechanism for repurposing Central State Hospital’s 200 vacant buildings and 2,000-hospital campus acres. 

Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) Executive Director Mike Couch emailed the SPC, partner law firm Troutman Sanders and hand delivered the legislative components to state Rep. Rusty Kidd and state Sen. Burt Jones. The package features language for the 2014 State Property Omnibus Legislation, proposed changes to House Bill 495 and a new piece of legislation that would be extremely effective in the CSHLRA mission, according to Couch.

Jones said the completed property conveyance pieces return power to the knowledgeable local authority.

“It gives them the ability to negotiate and not be in the dark as to whether or not they can obtain a facility or property and allows the power to act on a potential tenant,” Jones said. “Central State Hospital has been the mainstay in the community for years and years. I think it is very important they give us leeway for helping facilitate this property.”

Currently, it takes legislation passed during a three-month session at the beginning of each year to transfer property.

“If something comes the first of April, you have to wait nine months to get conveyance. From a business perspective, that’s too long,” Kidd said. 

Central State Hospital Legislative Initiative’s started as a grassroots joint City of Milledgeville and CSHLRA strategy aspiring to deliver an actionable plan allowing faster access to properties creating true privatization of stagnant hospital real estate. 

The CSH initiatives work details easier real estate transactions under the termed Economic Development Conveyance for mostly Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) and Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) owned buildings. These proposals would allow the SPC to better facilitate and increase reliability of state property conveyances outside of the General Assembly.

The bottom line is Central State’s 200-plus buildings aren’t market-ready under the current law because nothing is deemed surplus. 

“Currently, for any of these buildings to be transferred, the DBHDD has to declare that building surplus. Once they do that, the SPC puts a value on it and figures out a way to auction it off or whatever they want to do with it,” Kidd said. “There are no guidelines as to what is declared surplus. A lot of this is to do away with some of that and define what is and isn’t surplus.” 

The dream scenario allows the CSHLRA to deal directly with the SPC, which will eliminate going back through the legislative process. The Central State legislative body would broker with the SPC for all 2,000 acres.

“We’ve got to be ready to compete as a private developer. When you’re in the private sector, time is your enemy,” Couch said. “We have to be able to close that gap. If you come with a proposal that we want to entertain, we must get you on top of the property.”

These three documents and other campus related development points such as DOC building demolition dollars and home renovations for war veterans are included in a scheduled briefing with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal Oct. 9.

Couch said the CSH legislative delegation meeting with Deal will discuss where the CSHLRA needs to take state hospital property in the future. For the next two months, this state property access mechanism effort will work covering all angles.

“Let’s make sure we have something supportive from a legislative position, and then we’ll look to our statewide leadership to help lead us through the maze,” Couch said Monday. 

Kidd said the CSH delegation would see what the governor likes and wants to initiate.

“I’d be up to him to pick and choose which way he wants it to go,” the state representative said.

Both legislators will plow forward these bills during the 2014 session as needed.

Another potential legislative boost came when House State Properties Committee Chairman Jay Neal indicated he wanted to have a joint Milledgeville meeting of the House and Senate State Property Committees this fall. Kidd expects that gathering within the next 60 days.

Jones said he told state Sen. John Albers “you have to come see (Central State) to get a good grasp of what we are looking at here.”

The District 25 senator said the legislative folks back the CSH initiative.

“We’ve got the full support of the state property chairmen both in the House and the Senate. We aren’t going to have any push back on the legislative level,” Jones said.

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