Developer dangles Whole Foods, but city sale of 2 roads is still iffy

Tue, 11/20/2007 - 5:23pm
By: John Munford

Retail developer Doug McMurrain, who developed the Wal-Mart and Home Depot shopping area on Ga. Highway 54 West, made a pitch Thursday night for the Peachtree City Council to sell him two roads just across the highway.

Council’s response was, essentially: “Bring us back a detailed plan, and then we’ll talk.”

Should the sale go through, the city could receive a cash windfall of $1 million or more from McMurrain’s company, Capital City Development. State law requires that the property be sold for at least market value, and the $1 million rough valuation has come from McMurrain himself.

Before the roads can be sold to McMurrain, council has to declare them abandoned first. If they do that, however, McMurrain may legally be able to compel the city to sell them, noted City Attorney Ted Meeker.

Upon hearing that legal advice, council collectively asked McMurrain to bring them a plan before they vote whether or not to abandon the roads.

McMurrain initially wanted the roads to create room for a 90,000-square-foot Kohl’s Department Store, which is impossible on the property because of the city’s building setback regulations. McMurrain said Thursday that he has abandoned the big box plans, and he has heard the outcry of Peachtree City residents who oppose big box, regionally-sized, retail stores.

Still, McMurrain said, he thinks Peachtree City would love to have a Whole Foods store — but that company needs a big box store footprint beyond the city’s 32,000-square-foot limit.

The property McMurrain owns lies at the southwest corner of Ga. Highway 54 and Planterra Way, and it is intersected by Line Creek Drive and also contains Line Creek Circle. McMurrain argued that without those roads his development plan could be more flexible.

The property borders the Cardiff Park subdivision to the south, and the Cardiff Park homeowner’s association is urging the council to sell the streets. McMurrain has pledged to make sure residents there don’t see, hear or smell the development.

Although the Cardiff Park association favors the road sale, the Peachtree City Civic Association is arguing against it. The civic association consists of a number of homeowners association representatives from subdivisions all over the city.

Richard Spain of the civic association said selling the streets “enables the developer to propose a big box on his site.”

Spain noted that the city’s comprehensive plan does not mention the acceptance of large, regional, big box stores.

The land is already zoned general commercial and is already subject to the architectural guidelines and controls of the Ga. Highway 54 West overlay district.

McMurrain expressed frustration that he has been working on the proposal for two years and still has yet to move forward with the project. The roads are in poor condition and need resurfacing and are such a liability to the city currently, McMurrain added.

No official council vote was taken but the city will appoint a committee in the next few days to work with McMurrain on the proposal.

There may be some incentive for McMurrain to work quickly, as the runoff election in December for the Post 2 council seat is likely to bring a second anti-big box candidate to council.

Previously when McMurrain proposed to locate a Kohl’s at the site, Mayor Harold Logsdon and Councilman Steve Boone said they were in favor of that proposal.

McMurrain said his goal is to make the development the best commercial site in the entire city. His other company, RAM Development, developed the commercial area on the north side of Ga. Highway 54 West that includes the Wal-Mart and Home Depot stores.

One option council has is to sell the road to McMurrain with conditions upon the type and scale of development that can occur on the site. One of those conditions discussed Thursday would allow council to have final approval on the site plan. Since the property is already zoned, that approval would normally be left up to the planning commission unless it turns the plan down, upon which the matter would then be brought to council.

However, if McMurrain wants to build a store larger than 32,000 square feet, he will need a special permit granted by council. That would be heard as a separate issue from the conceptual plan or landscape plan for the site.

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zoes's picture
Submitted by zoes on Wed, 11/21/2007 - 12:03pm.

this? He needed the two streets to build Kohl's. Now he needs them to build a Whole Foods, which he has learned the community wants. What if he gets the streets and builds a Kohls anyway? I'm sure Whole Foods can fit into a smaller space, if his objective is to bring businesses the citizens want. Don't sell this crook and liar and etc these streets!!! If I had the time and incentive, I'd see if Whole Foods is willing to build in a smaller footprint and take that to council to confront Mcwhatshisname.

Submitted by owensmom on Wed, 11/21/2007 - 10:34am.

We NEED a Whole Foods here!!!!! We don't NEED a Kohl's here!!!!

Submitted by skyspy on Tue, 11/20/2007 - 9:04pm.

mcBULLY offered 1 million?? Earlier he only wanted to pay 750....change of heart??

State law does require that the city streets, that were paid for with FEDERAL AND STATE TAX MONEY, be sold at fair market value. Which if memory serves was at least 1 million per street. That means we should at the very least get 2 million, or better yet sell the streets to the hightest bidder to pay for the ILLEGAL TENNIS CENTER LOAN!

Stop peeing on our feet and then tell us it is raining!

Special note to the councilFOOLS: the only reason mcBULLY needed the city streets was for a big box development, which he now says he is (allegedly) not going to do. So my question is why the heartburn for ownership of the city streets?? The same city streets paid for by the TAXPAYERS!!.

bad_ptc's picture
Submitted by bad_ptc on Tue, 11/20/2007 - 10:05pm.

He tried to tell them that he couldn’t develop a site plan if he didn’t own the roads.

He got called on it because he developed a site plan for the Kohl’s and didn’t own the roads.

It’s time to send him packing back to Colorado for the winter. Christmas, not some un-named holiday, is coming and we have no more time for Mr. Scrooge!

On another subject we need to be careful that the city council doesn’t get the idea that selling city owned property is a good way to raise money for “projects”.

Steve Brown's picture
Submitted by Steve Brown on Tue, 11/20/2007 - 11:19pm.

The whole episode with that particular site and Doug McMurrain has been an embarrassment. The level of sneaky behavior has hit new highs.

I want to hear the Mayor and Council give an official decree that they are 100% committed to insuring proper buffering for the Cardiff Park subdivision no matter what goes on the adjacent parcel.

No subdivision should have to be subjected to constant threats from developers and uncertain leadership from the council.

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