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June 6, 2014

Officials look back at responses made to the emergency

Athens — The Athens Economic Development Corporation is looking at purchasing about 95 acres of property next to the industrial park for future projects.

AEDC President/CEO Brian Malone told the City Council on Wednesday that the property was developable, and should serve AEDC needs for a number of years.  The land is actually a combination of two tracts. One is north of Futurematrix, and the other is south of Howard Measurement.

“This has been quite a lengthy process in terms of AEDC looking at this as a project,” Malone said. “It came as a recommendation as part of the TIP Strategies last year.”

AEDC contracted with Austin-based TIP Strategies in 2012 to conduct a new strategic plan for the city. 

Negotiations began on the property in August, and were completed in May, Malone said. The negotiated price for the land is $9,000 per acre.  The total price adds up to $859,000. The land has been appraised at a little more than $7,100 per acre.  The AEDC is having the property surveyed to be sure all of the boundaries are correct, and is having an environmental study.

Malone said the board will look at options concerning exactly how the purchase will be handled at a meeting scheduled for Tuesday.

“We could pay cash, pay a combination of cash and loan, or we could do strictly debt-financing,” Malone said.

New council member Charles Elliott asked Malone if the AEDC had looked at any property east of the airport for an industrial park.

“We’d really not like to discuss in open session all of the properties we did look at. We looked at a lot of different pieces of land,” Malone said. “When you look at land, you have to look at its proximity to other things.”

If the sale of the property is not approved by the council, the AEDC will forfeit a $2,000 option fee.

Malone said the AEDC only has six acres of land at present that can be developed for economic purposes. That is much less than cities like Kilgore with more than 600 acres.

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