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Haggling continues over project's terms
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Forsyth County News

It likely will be next month before a development agreement is reached on a massive, mixed-use project in deep south Forsyth.

Attorneys for Forsyth County and the developer continue to tweak the inner workings of the deal, which could come before the county commission Nov. 6. as

County Attorney Ken Jarrard presented the agreement, which was most recently revised by Taubman Centers attorney Harold Buckley, to the commission on Tuesday.

"The latest version has a more clear and simple delineation of what costs will be absorbed," Jarrard said. "What we can expect to be reimbursed for versus what we cannot expect to be reimbursed for."

Jarrard told commissioners both issues hinged on "whether or not the so-called 'marquee' product is delivered to the county," or the "upper-end retail we're all hoping to be able to bring to the county."

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.

Jarrard said $2.575 million in acquisition costs for right of way are among the items for which the county would be reimbursed if Taubman can not secure the unnamed retailers.

"If a marquee product is not delivered, that is a cost the county would get back," he said.

Other reimbursable items include a $1 million engineering claim and $120,000 for sewer.

Those amounts that would not be reimbursed include some construction costs along the Ronald Reagan Boulevard extension the commission approved in August for $11.9 million.

Jarrard said the county would, however, receive 22 acres of green space if the marquee products were not secured.

"That's the tradeoff in that scenario," he said.

In addition to not being reimbursed for construction along Ronald Reagan, the county would not be compensated for off-site improvements that Jarrard said totaled about $300,000.

"That is something Taubman has been in the position of from the outset," Jarrard said. "The county has not embraced that."

Commissioners voiced concern that the overlay approved in April would have some holes if Taubman failed to secure the big-name tenants.

Taubman representative Mark Putney said the overlay would "provide tighter restrictions than the unified development code" and that it would not be a negative effect.

Commissioner Linda Ledbetter disagreed.

"The only reason we gave so much in this whole overlay was to get this marquee product, not higher density housing on one piece of land," she said.