Atlanta-- Friendship Baptist Church reportedly rejected a $13.5 million offer from the City of Atlanta to move aside for a new stadium. Mayor Kasim Reed said the church asked for $24.5 million instead. Now the city has offered $15.5 million. The Fulton County tax assessor's website says the church properties the city needs are worth about $1.4 million. So is the church's $25 million request outlandish, or reasonable?
A Buckhead real estate attorney and veteran of such multi-million dollar deals said the $15-25 million price was right in the range he'd expect. Brad Hutchins of WNCW said tax assessments don't usually reflect anything close to a final deal amount.
"Property tax assessments are notoriously unreliable for determining market value, especially in today's market," said Hutchins. "One day a piece of property can be worth 150,000 the next day it's worth 2 million, all because of what someone wants to build there and how badly they want to build it."
Hutchins said tax assessments rarely reflect what the market pay for a property. He also said tax assessors don't pay attention to tax-exempt properties like churches. In this case, the price could go as high as the city is willing to pay. And with a stadium on the line, that price could be very high.
"How often is it a city wants to buy out a piece of property and put a football stadium on there, and how do you value that?" Hutchins said.
The State is handling talks with another church which needs to move to accommodate the construction of a new stadium. They have been mostly silent.
Leaders at Friendship Baptist also declined to talk about specifics in the negotiation process, but they said they hoped to meet with the Falcons next week. Mayor Reed said he is confident a deal could be reached within the next month.