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Waste Watchers: Taxpayers fund $13m empty buildings

6:37 PM, Oct 25, 2012   |    comments
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MORROW, Ga. -- A $13 million development that looks like an abandoned movie set has turned into a horror story for taxpayers in Morrow.

Olde Town Morrow opened in 2009 with hope and fanfare. Now the taxpayer funded development sits empty, and the city has no idea what will happen with it.

"I think they should be ashamed," said taxpayer Tondalayer McCrary.

Mc Crary lives near Olde Town Morrow, and sees her tax dollars going to waste every day.

"That money could have been used for something good," said McCrary. "It's a slap in the face."

The $13 million development closed in January, 2011. Morrow's current City Manager says the closing was mostly due to fire code violations, but there were other problems.

"Unfortunately, many of the up front steps necessary for a project of this size to be successful were not done," City Manager Jeff Eady said in an email. "The project was born and birthed by the previous City Manager and the previous Mayor and Council."

Eady said the project lacked a business plan and marketing analysis.

In addition to the $13 million to open Olde Town Morrow, taxpayers continue to pay approximately $10,000 a year to maintain the property.

The future is uncertain.

Eady says the city is preparing a strategy. The hope is to attract a private investor who will help the city reopen the property.

"The cost to move forward is currently unknown," said Eady. "As the strategy takes its course, the market will dictate the highest and best use of the property."

The city has hired a real estate advisory group to help come up with a plan.

"We are confident that in time and with an improving economy, we will have a more positive result," said Eady.

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