An illustration of the new City Hall in the City Center project.

An illustration of the new City Hall in the City Center project.

Sandy Springs City Center redevelopment is getting a new name, a new logo and up to $222 million in revenue bonds to pay for it all.

The name and logo were to be unveiled during a public ceremony at the construction site at Roswell Road, Johnson Ferry Road and Mount Vernon Highway on Sept. 20, after the close of the annual Sandy Springs Festival on nearby Heritage Green.

The $220 million, public-private redevelopment will include a new City Hall, apartments, commercial space, and concert and theater halls. When it is finished in late 2017, it is expected to anchor a downtown district that city officials believe will unify the city.

“Sandy Springs is a wonderful collection of neighborhoods,” Mayor Rusty Paul said in an email. “Community is happening within these cul-de-sacs. You see a couple of neighbors connecting as they walk their dogs or collect the mail, and pretty soon, it’s a neighborhood get-together. We want to create that camaraderie on a larger scale.

“This project will do that. This development will create the community’s neighborhood,” Paul said.

Construction on the project is already underway. Residents were invited to bring jars of soil from their neighborhoods to mix into the construction site’s dirt as part of the naming ceremony.

“In asking for neighborhoods to bring a jar of dirt to the unveiling event, the idea is to symbolically bring together our mini-communities, creating everyone’s neighborhood,” Paul said.

At the Sept. 15 Sandy Springs City Council meeting, Paul said he got the soil-mingling idea from Rabbi Joshua Heller of Congregation B’nai Torah.

Also during that meeting, Sandy Springs officials authorized issuing up to $222 million in revenue bonds to fund the massive project. The actual bond issuance likely will be smaller, though still significant.

The city’s financial advisers gave an estimate of a $156 million bond issuance for $180 million in proceeds. The entire City Center project budget has been estimated at $220 million.

“We know the amount we need will be significantly less…I want to make it clear we have no intention of borrowing $222 million,” said Paul.

The maximum bond amount—officially $222,712,000—gives the city financial flexibility, City Manager John McDonough said.
The bonds will be paid off with lease revenue from the project.

Paul oversaw the two approval votes on the same night by both the Sandy Springs City Council and the city’s Public Facilities Authority. The two bodies have identical memberships.

The authority exists to own property and sign leases on behalf of the city. It “will eventually have ownership of all properties of City Center,” said city attorney Wendell Willard.

The initial bond authorization is just the first step in an approval process that includes getting Fulton County Superior Court to validate the bond issuance.

The interest rates to be paid on the bonds and their maturity dates will be worked out in time for another dual meeting of the City Council and the Public Facilities Authority on Oct. 20.

City advisers did say they expect the city to receive a AAA bond rating, and that the bonds will be available in relatively small, retail packages that local residents could buy.

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