|By Rodney Manley, The Macon Telegraph,
Ga.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 27, 2011--The Macon-Bibb County Development Authority executed a letter of intent Thursday that gives developers the go-ahead to seek financing for Renaissance on the River -- a $50 million upscale hotel, condominiums and office development off Riverside Drive.
The letter spells out the developers' plans, as well as the terms and conditions for the project on the 12-acre site between Rotary Park and Spring Street.
It gives the authority 60 days to negotiate an option with the development group, led by former Mercer University President Kirby Godsey.
According to the letter of intent, the group will pay a $15,000 fee for the 18-month option. The developers will buy the property for 50 percent of its appraised value, minus whatever out-of-pocket relocation costs they pay to have the city's Central Services Department relocated.
An appraisal three years ago valued the property at about $2.3 million.
The authority has sought for years to have the property developed, but several ideas pitched to the board fell through.
The proposal by Godsey and local developer Jeff Jones is by far the most ambitious and appears to have more momentum than previous plans.
"We're excited about getting it done," said Alex Morrison, the authority's executive director.
Godsey was out of town Thursday and could not be reached for comment. Kevin Brown, attorney for Renaissance on the River, said the group already has prospective lenders and the letter of intent gives the developers "something concrete."
"I'm excited and pleased, and appreciate all the assistance of the authority and staff in working together to do this project the right way," Brown said.
According to the letter of intent, the developers intend to build 24 condos, a 42-bed hotel and 100,000 square feet of office and commercial space, along with a parking garage, a "River Club" at the top of the tower hotel. Phase two calls for 142 apartment units over ground floor retail.
Other terms spelled out in the letter include:
The purchasers expect to have the majority of the condos pre-sold and commercial space pre-leased by no later than Sept. 30, 2012.
The city of Macon will reimburse the developers up to $500,000 in relocation costs for Central Services. The reimbursement will be paid from proceeds from the Tax Allocation District bonds.
The developers are required to hire at least 10 percent local workers and 10 percent minority workers for the project.
Developers expect to close on the construction loan for Phase I -- the condominiums, hotel, commercial space, River Club and parking deck -- by Dec. 31, 2012. Construction is expected to be completed, with certificates of occupancy, by June 30, 2014.
The letter also allows the authority to set certain conditions for the development of the property, including the minimum level of investment, provision of a firm loan commitment and financial information, the number of jobs created and time frames for construction.
To contact writer Rodney Manley, call 744-4623.
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Copyright (c) 2011, The Macon Telegraph, Ga.
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