The Union Recorder

January 16, 2014

CSH authority confident in state property legislation

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — With Georgia’s legislative session underway, the capitol is excited about Central State Hospital’s redevelopment plan.

Key bills for easier state property conveyance procedures have significant backing as well.

Executive Director of the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) Mike Couch said during Wednesday’s board meeting that new chair of the House State Properties Committee, Rep. Barbara Sims, agreed to sign off and drop House Bill 495.

“Sen. Burt Jones will also do that in the Senate,” Couch said. “We are very pleased we’ve got sponsorship.”

HB 495 will be submitted as constructed last session. Couch said the legislative team feels that amendments can come through the House Committee.

Local supporters and CSHLRA board members will make two trips during House hearings and also when the bill comes up in the Senate chambers for the first time this session.

CSHLRA board member Dr. Stas Preczewski said Atlanta is excited about the redevelopment efforts.

He met with leaders from both the state House and Senate Wednesday morning.

“It’s really nice to be able to say great things about the community, and I think you will get good support out of Atlanta as this proceeds,” Preczewski 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 for true privatization of stagnant hospital real estate. 

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

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 State Properties Commission (SPC) to better facilitate and increase reliability of state property conveyances outside of the General Assembly.

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.

Couch said the State Property Omnibus Bill, another vital piece for CSH, would be drafted and submitted by the end of next week.

“The State Properties Commission has asked me to provide a letter from the DBHDD and DOC commissioners declaring which properties they will surplus for 2014,” Couch said. 

Those properties then go into the Omnibus Bill language.

“It’s going as we had anticipated and hopes,” Couch said. “We are getting some traction in Atlanta.”

The CSHLRA heard a presentation from The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) leadership Wednesday. 

If the legislation comes through, the redevelopment authority needs “A roadmap” and “strategic plan,” according to Couch.

John J. Hentschel explained the services a CRE team could apply to the CSH campus.

The 1,100 real estate professionals within CRE span the globe and membership is invite-only.

“We have people extensively engaged in not only brokerage activities, but also in development, evaluation, feasibility, design, legal, master planning expertise and capital formation to name a few,” Hentschel said.

A five-member CRE Consulting Corps panel would visit Milledgeville by late May or early June.

The real estate counselors volunteer their time pro-bono, which Hentschel valued at upward of $300 per hour, to solve complex problems and opportunities to organizations like the CSHLRA that need help.

Panels convene at 7:30 a.m. and work until dinnertime, often meeting until midnight throughout the week.

The only costs are administrative.

“The team would travel to Milledgeville and set up interviews with stakeholders to get various viewpoints regarding the property,” Hentschel said. “At the end of a one week panel session, they would devise preliminary conclusions and recommendations delivered to the board.”

The strategic plan final product would refine the CSHLRA mission, vision and objectives, along with an agenda for action.

The CSHLRA board authorized Couch to begin negotiations for CRE’s services.

“We look forward to working here in Milledgeville,” Hentschel said.