Ga. Military College signs 10-year lease with Fairburn

Thu, 08/28/2008 - 2:52pm
By: Ben Nelms

It was an announcement that amounted to the icing on the cake. Officials from Georgia Military College (GMC) Aug. 25 signed a 10-year lease with the city of Fairburn for the use of an 18,400 square-foot classroom building and 3,800 square feet of administrative space at the city’s new college campus complex that will open in October.

“We’ve been working for the past year to negotiate a lease and we’ve come to the end of that process,” City Administrator Jim Williams said minutes before Mayor Betty Hannah and GMC President Maj. Gen. Peter Boylan signed the lease at the council table.

Currently under construction at the campus situated along U.S. Highway 29 are two, two-story brick classrooms at 18,400 square feet each, a three-story, 11,400 square-foot colonial style administration building and two, 2,000 square-foot retail buildings. GMC is leasing one of the classroom buildings and one floor of the administration building.

“We’re delighted to be a part of the community,” said Maj. Gen. Boylan, president of the eight-campus college as he explained that GMC is interested in more than education alone. "We view character as an integral part of education. We focus on character and we put our dollars in ethics courses to evaluate the character of all our students.”

The decision to initiate the $10 million project was made by the Fairburn council Sept. 24, 2007. Williams at the meeting told council members discussions with GMC led to an agreement that the school would be interested in a 10-year lease on one of the classroom buildings. Peachtree City-based Group VI was subsequently hired to design and build the Phase 1 portion of the education complex.

GMC had for several years used classroom space in Union City. That time began to come to a close when negotiations with Fairburn led to a commitment by the school to relocate to Fairburn’s new campus.

“We appreciate your vision to provide educational opportunities for students in south metro Atlanta,” said Fairburn GMC Director Deborah Condon. “Your vision has turned into reality.”

Condon told council members the new Fairburn campus has already signed 444 students for the fall quarter that begins Oct. 13. Condon said Tuesday she expects final enrollment numbers to be in the range of 550 students. Those enrolled to date include 23 percent from Fayette County and 6 percent from Coweta County, along with students from all over metro Atlanta. GMC classes are held everyday of the week, usually beginning at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 10:15 p.m. Condon also announced that Fairburn city employees can attend classes tuition free.

The new GMC location will include 11 full-time and 31 part-time instructors along with 12 full-time and 24 part-time support staff.

The council originally considered using city reserves for the $10 million project. That idea was ruled out in November once Williams announced that a restricted bond issue was available through Georgia Municipal Association at 3.5-4.0 percent interest. The city opted to finance the project since it receives five percent interest on money in its $12 million reserve account.

“The city’s money is generating five percent,” Williams said previously. “It would be foolish to take money from our reserves when we can get a loan for less money.”

GMC agreed to a rate of $11 per square-foot for its 10-year lease of the 11,400 square-foot classroom building and approximately 3,800 square feet included in one floor of the administration building. The combined space will bring in $2.44 million over the 10-year lease period.

Discussions continue with Georgia State University and Atlanta Tech as potential institutions that might lease the second classroom building in Phase 1. That building will be ready for occupancy by the beginning of 2009.

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