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Deal on big mall is near
Vote on project may come Thursday
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Forsyth County News

The Forsyth County commission and representatives of an upscale, mixed-use project in south Forsyth may have settled on their roles in the development.

The give and take continued Tuesday before commissioners directed County Attorney Ken Jarrard to prepare a potential final agreement that they could vote on at tonight's regular meeting.

"We're close to the endgame on this," Jarrard said in the meeting, where county staff and representatives from developer Taubman Centers gathered. "We need to walk through this as a collective body again and make sure everybody's hearing the same things."

According to Jarrard, the basics of the agreement state that the county will do the following:

* Buy the right of way to extend Ronald Reagan Boulevard for $2.575 million from Taubman.

* Pay the developer $1 million for its engineering plans.

* Complete construction of Ronald Reagan and nearby sewer improvements.

* Reduce sewer tap fees for a period following construction.

* Enact a tax abatement, or tax relief, schedule for a period of 10 years.

The tax abatement schedule became a point of debate Tuesday.

Both parties agreed that once a permit has been issued to begin construction on Taubman's "regional mall," a 10-year tax relief schedule would kick in on that section of the development.

The regional mall amounts to 675,000 square feet of leasable commercial space, including two Bloomingdale's or Nordstrom-type anchor stores.

Taubman wants to build the upscale, mixed use development on 164 acres along Ga. 400 between Union Hill and McFarland roads near the Fulton County line. The project calls for retail and office space, as well as hotels and residential units.

In the event the retail mall does not open by Dec. 1, 2015, Taubman would reimburse the county $2.575 million for Ronald Reagan Boulevard right of way, $1 million for engineering plans and $120,000 for reduced sewer tap fees.

The county would also receive 22 acres of open space if the big-name anchor stores were not secured.

If all goes as planned, the county gets the "possibility of a mall generating millions of dollars in tax revenues," Jarrard said.

After the talks, Taubman representative Mark Putney thanked commissioners as he left.

Earlier, Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse had made a comment that pointed to the frustration over digging through another draft of the proposal.

"Excuse me," Laughinghouse said, as he stood up to get coffee. "I'm going to recuse myself of this one. Some people get migraines. I get Taubmans."

In August, commissioners approved an easement agreement, which outlined the basics of the county's intent to begin work on the southern end of Ronald Reagan Boulevard.