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Residential Real Estate

Aug, 16 – City Council Approves Sale of City Broughton Municipal Building

By Lou Phelps, SBJ

August 16, 2018 – At their Thursday afternoon meeting, the City Council approved the sale of the Broughton Municipal Building  located at 132 E. Broughton St., to Columbia Ventures, LLC., by a vote of 5 - 3.  The City sold what they had termed "surplus property" for $4.5 million, used for many years where residents were able to pay their utility bills, as well as for offices. 

In an interview after the meeting, Alderman Van Johnson said that he voted against the sale, "because I believe that we could have gotten more for the property."  There was only one bidder, he believes.  

Long-time Savannah residential and commercial Realtor Dickie Mopper spoke against the sale at that price, saying in effect that the city did cast out a big enough net, and could have attracted additional buyers, an opinion that Johnson echoed. Mopper stated that other recent sales on Broughton St. were for much higher rates per square foot. 

Also after the meeting, Alderman Tony Thomas, who voted against the sale, said it was illogical to sell the building for $2 million below the assessed value.  Thomas has questioned a number of property sales. 

The developer is planning a residentially anchored mixed-use development in an urban area, according to city officials.  “The historic integrity of the building will be preserved while restoring the exterior to its mid-century roots. The proposed Broughton House, which will be a boutique hotel, will provide an anchor to Broughton Street for residents and visitors, officials state, in a press release after the meeting.

The city issued a request for proposal (RFP), which evaluated criteria in addition to purchase price.   The criteria evaluated for this RFP were the qualifications of development team, quality of design proposal, schedule of performance, financial return and economic impact, and commitment to the City’s hiring programs, the Council was told.

The financial return and economic impact of this property sale was determined to have an estimated net present value of $6.4 million which includes the proceeds of the sale and incremental tax revenues in future years, once the development is completed.

Most of the employees who worked at the building have already been relocated to other facilities, including at 1375 Chatham Parkway and 1700 Drayton St.   Two departments remain, the Revenue Department and City auditors.   The Revenue Department will soon be relocated to the Civic Center, and the City auditors will relocate to Chatham Parkway.  

The sale of the building aligns with the City’s ‘Savannah Forward’ strategic plan priority for “Good Government,” it was explained, which has included taking a hard look at city-owned property that could be sold and returned to the tax rolls.   

“The City is moving forward to consolidate operations and city staff to increase efficiencies and put surplus property back on the City’s tax roll,” according to officials

Who is Columbia Ventures, LLC?

The address of company is listed as an Atlanta-based Georgia LLC corporation, with the "Organizers" listed as the Savannah law firm of Hunter McLean Exley & Dunn, organized in 2013.  The law firm is now known as Hunter McLean. 

The company focuses on residentially anchored mixed-use development in urban locations in the southeastern United States, according to their website, "created in collaboration with the principals of the award-winning affordable housing development and property management, originally founded in 1991 by Noel Khalil. 

The company has developed major projects in Decatur, Atlanta and Augusta. 

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