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County avoids condemnation with $1.75M deal
Retail site will give way to new parking deck
The county has reached a deal to buy this strip mall at 108 Pilgrim Mill Road for a future parking deck. - photo by FCN file photo

A shopping center next to the Forsyth County Administration Building won’t be condemned to make way for a parking deck after the county reached an agreement to buy the site for $1.75 million.

Commissioners voted 4-0, with Brian Tam absent, to approve the acquisition agreement with ACH Development for the .86-acre parcel at 108 Pilgrim Mill Road.

The property will be used to build one of two new parking decks downtown associated with the courthouse and jail projects, approved as part of the most recent special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST.

The five-story deck behind the administration building is proposed to have 484 parking spaces.

The commission held a public hearing in June as a first step toward condemnation proceedings of the site, said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

“We are not going to have to condemn because we have actually worked out a mutually acceptable compromise acquisition agreement with the owner of the property,” Jarrard said.

The contract gives the county a 90-day due diligence period to inspect the property, during which it could terminate the contract if the site is deemed not suitable, he said.

County Manager Doug Derrer said construction is slated to start in March on the parking deck.

That’s the same month the lease expires for the tenant with the longest remaining rental in the Pilgrim Square shopping center, Derrer said.

“That will be bumping right up against our schedule, so we may have to negotiate something with that tenant,” he said.

The owner cannot extend or renew leases while the contract is in place, including the agreement for the billboard, according to the purchase contract.

Commissioners also approved a concept plan for the parking deck on Tuesday in a 4-0 vote.

The plan calls for the rectangular deck to be built with the longer side running parallel to School Street, with Mason Street as the entrance in the middle on the opposite, south side.

The remaining acquired property will be used primarily for landscaping and green space.

Existing surface parking not covered by the deck will be improved, Derrer said.

Commissioners previously approved the plan for the smaller deck, which will be built on city of Cumming-owned property along Castleberry Road near West Maple Street.

Construction on the three-story deck is expected to begin in mid to late October.