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Brother, can you spare $21 million?

Atlantic Station project wants big advance from City Hall

Atlantic Station developers are hoping the city of Atlanta can float them about $21 million for water and sewage line construction until bond proceeds are available.
The plan was revealed in correspondence obtained by Creative Loafing. (Which someone had left in the OK Café bathroom — no kidding.)
Under such a plan, the city does face a risk: Should the Atlantic Station project fall apart, the city could be left with a virtually useless $21 million water and sewer system.
The city has already agreed to issue bonds to finance construction for roads, as well as water and sewage lines, but that bond money won't be available soon enough for Atlantic Station developers.
The bonds "will not be ready for market for several months. The development, however, is on schedule, and construction is beginning on the water and sewer infrastructure," the letter says.
Those water and sewer lines are necessary for the Atlantic Station project, a $2 billion, 140-acre mini-city that will be located on the west side of the Downtown Connector. Once it's complete, the redevelopment will include 4 million square feet of office space and 3,000 residential units. The first phase of the project should be completed by the fall of 2002.
The attorneys want the city to go ahead and find the funding for the project now, and replace those funds once the bonds are issued within the next 18 months.
Councilman Lee Morris confirmed that on Nov. 20 he asked the Finance Committee to approve the idea.
Even though a precedent exists that would allow the city to dip into another fund to pay for the necessary construction, Morris says the case of Atlantic Station, formerly the Atlantic Steel site, isn't like anything the city has faced before.
Morris says there would be no cost to the city because the old Atlantic Steel site became a tax allocation district back in October 1999, allowing the city to use property taxes to pay off bonds. Atlantic Station is the only such district in the state.