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HAPEVILLE: City council set to finalize Old Ford Plant deal | Business

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HAPEVILLE: City council set to finalize Old Ford Plant deal

ATLANTA -- The price of real estate may be going nowhere, but don't tell that to the City of Atlanta or Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. They are about to pay almost double for a piece of land at the former Ford Assembly Plant.

The Atlanta City Council is expected to make their final approval of the deal Wednesday.

Three years ago when Ford sold the property, the Airport and City could have gotten what they wanted for a fraction of the cost.

It's for 52 acres of what the Airport calls un-developable land but land that it needs as a buffer zone and they are paying top dollar for it.

It's on the east end of Loop Road, bordering on one of Hartsfield-Jackson's primary runways that was built in 1985 and designed by the FAA as a Runway Protection Zone.

The Airport could have bought the land with Federal assistance in 2008, when the developer, Jacoby, bought it from Ford for $328,000 an acre.

But they didn't.

Now to get that land the City and Airport will shell out almost double that -- $615,000 an acre -- more than $250,000 more per acre than it would have cost three years ago.

Hartsfield-Jackson's General Manager Louis Miller says it's a fair price.

"The City would have had to do the same thing they (Jacoby) did--tear all the buildings down, environmental remediation, all the stuff they had done to increase their cost per acre when they bought it. They had to do that. Now that's been done. It is clear land. The buildings have come down. They spent a lot of money doing that, plus the appraisal shows what we paid for it. I am saying it's a fair price." Miller said.

When it comes to paying for it-some questions remain.

The FAA says it can pay for up to 75 percent of the purchase, but says it hasn't gotten anything yet from the Airport or the City requesting the funds.

When it does, it says budget restraints may make it impossible to give Atlanta what it wants.

The Airport can also apply Passenger Use fees -- they amount to $4.50 per passenger -- but also must get FAA approval to do that.

For now, $32 million to buy a piece of land that will just sit there with no guarantees of who will end up paying for it.