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August 14, 2013

Shaw building repurpose venture on hold

MILLEDGEVILLE — Two months ago the City of Milledgeville and Fox Holdings Limited agreed to officially engage in negotiations for the repurposing of the Shaw Building as an innovation center.

During Tuesday’s City Council work session, David Sinclair, who assists the Central State Hospital redevelopment efforts and is acting chairman for Fox Holdings, said a July 28 meeting changed the plan.

Over the last few weeks the city shot down the 50/50 joint Shaw venture, according to Sinclair.

“I met with my attorney Joe Mangum to put together a proposal for a lease-purchase of the building. That’s where we are at the moment,” Sinclair said. “Unfortunately, the city isn’t in a position to lease-purchase the building to me or one of my companies.”

Using either the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) or the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Development Authority as a broker is the only way to make this happen it seemed.

“This isn’t a way forward as far as I’m concerned. It’s a show stopper,” Sinclair told the crowd of supporters Tuesday.

Council members looked miffed at the evening news from Fox Holdings. Councilwoman Jeanette Walden, District 2, asked what happened to stop the progress.

One red flag raised discovered that the legislation creating the CSHLRA doesn’t allow that authority to operate outside the boundary of the hospital campus thus taking it out of the conduit role for Shaw.

“The City of Milledgeville is hampered in our ability to sell or lease property in the context of what’s offered here,” Jordan said. “We can convey property to another governmental entity or authority.”

The city attorney said a suggested proposal established a 10-year lease or lease purchase option. No other city officials saw any proposal.

The city is prepared to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding assigning one of the qualified authorities as the Shaw lease conduit. The Development Authority deal can go handle the Communiversity lease.

“The city is going to cut the deal, but somebody else is going to have to administer it,” the city attorney said.

Sinclair said his proposal presented Tuesday for the 27-year lease-purchase of the property at a $300,000 sum is take it or leave it.

Mayor Richard Bentley said the city wants to make this happen.

Bentley said the $1.5 million figure provided by Shaw Industries for purchase remains simply an estimate.

Sinclair is frustrated with a perceived “lack of initiative” in the community.

The Shaw Building sits in Walden’s district. She wants to do something to get movement on a building the city received as a free gift.

“If it’s this hard for a businessman to do business with the city, no wonder nothing is happening on the southside of town,” Walden said.

Bentley said Council just wants something to vote on. Sinclair agreed to meet again with the city and attorneys in tow to rectify the situation.

The Milledgeville-Baldwin County Communiversity follows the same mold as Gainesville’s Featherbone Communiversity.

The Shaw Building’s 93,000 square feet could harbor a convention center, manufacturing facilities, a production kitchen, art studio and tech hub to name a few proposals.

The local communiversity’s stated mission is foster entrepreneurship, enhance workforce training and community wide economic development.

Committed parties include Solar Zones, LLC, the Milledgeville Players, the CSHLRA, Central Georgia Technical College, the Baldwin Investment group and Perpetual Motion, LLC.

The Players and Perpetual Motion already have significant funds allotted for the venture project.

 

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