A busy Monday meeting for the Rome City Commission included approval of a revised tax allocation district agreement with Berry College for the construction of a $12 million Fairfield Inn & Suites adjoining the Rome Tennis Center.
The commission OK’d the revised plan 8-0 with Commissioner Mark Cochran abstaining from the vote because of a conflict of interest (an architect, Cochran has done numerous projects with the college). The hotel will include 80 rooms and be built at the tip of the turn on the Armuchee Connector adjacent to the main entrance to the tennis center.
The latest vote was needed after the County Commission rejected the TAD application by a 3-2 vote. The issue came back to the city — which previously approved it — for review. City Commissioner Wendy Davis introduced the second bid, adding that because of the county’s collapsed interest, the TAD length would need to be extended to “conservatively” 15 years. That, in turn, allows for the recovery of the $1.7 million sought from the TAD designation.
In other action, the commission welcomed the latest municipal judges, John Husser of Husser & Husser, and Chris Jackson of the firm McRae, Smith, Peek, Harman & Monroe, LLP
PREVIOUSLY on the TAD/hotel project:
The Rome City Commission is poised to enter into a $1.73 million Tax Allocation District (TAD) funding agreement on its own with Berry College’s Lavender Mountain Hospitality Services, LLC for a new Fairfield Inn and Suites at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. A new resolution on the TAD agreement will be voted on by the Commission during their meeting on Monday, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m., according to the agenda.
“The Rome City Commission will take a look at a new resolution on a TAD agreement with Berry. We have been in ongoing discussions with Berry this week. We very much support the project and value their partnership,” says City Manager Sammy Rich. “I am cautiously optimistic that we can move forward with this project.”
The City Commission unanimously approved the agreement during their Sept. 14 meeting, but the proposal was voted down 3-2 by the Floyd County Commission on Tuesday.
“The county declined to move forward, so they removed their tax money from the equation. The city would now be the sole funder of the TAD for the same requested amount of $1.73 million,” says Rich.
What’s in the agreement:
- Tax Allocation District (TAD) funding request by Lavender Mountain Hospitality Services, LLC for Fairfield Inn and Suites at the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. The $1.73 million package is designed for the undeveloped site off the Armuchee Connector. According to the agreement, the developer — Berry’s Lavender Mountain Hospitality Services LLC would receive no more than $1,728,840 in assistance for the construction of the hotel, which would be no more than $172,884 paid over the next 10 years on or after Dec. 10 of the year following completion of the hotel. Currently, Berry pays $100 a year on taxes for the hotel site. That could continue for a decade and then it would be taxed at full rate.
Sept. 22: Not so much a stunner but definitely a slap back from the Floyd County Commission on Tuesday as the board rejected plans to take part in the tax allocation district for Berry College’s proposed Fairfield Inn & Suites adjoining the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College.
Two commissioners, Rhonda Wallace and Wright Bagby, voted in favor of passage. Opposing were Chair Scotty Hancock, Larry Maxey and Allison Watters. While all lauded the scope and economic impact of the $12 million investment, Hancock said he got “heartburn” when thinking of approving the TAD just after increasing taxpayers’ millage rates. That was echoed by Watters.
Berry attorney Danny Price made the final pitch before the County Commission. Price is a familiar face before the county as he co-chaired the successful passage of the 2017 general purpose SPLOST that earmarked $63.8 million in extra revenue for county and municipal governments. Price was joined by the college’s finance director, Brian Erb. Their presentation began around the eight-minute mark in the Facebook Live video below. You can watch the vote here, beginning at 29:50 and ending around 43:00.
The project already has been blessed by the Rome City Commission, the Rome Board of Education and the development committee (by a 4-2 vote with Maxey and County Manager Jamie McCord voting no, an early sign on how Tuesday night’s vote would go).
Sept. 14: Unanimous OK from Rome City Commission: At Monday’s meeting, Rome City commissioners unanimously approved a bid for the existing Mount Berry Mall tax allocation district to include three acres set aside for a Fairfield Inn & Suites adjoining the Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. The vote addressed the $1.73 million package designed for the undeveloped site off the Armuchee Connector.
According to the agreement, the developer — Berry’s Lavender Mountain Hospitality Services LLC would receive no more than $1,728,840 in assistance for the construction of the hotel, which would be no more than $172,884 paid over the next 10 years on or after Dec. 10 of the year following completion of the hotel. Currently, Berry pays $100 a year on taxes for the hotel site. That could continue for a decade and then it would be taxed at full rate.
If built, the Fairfield would include 80 hotel rooms. It would rise at the main entrance to the tennis center site and likely would be joined eventually by a restaurant.
Commissioner Wendy Davis presented the package and made the motion to pass it, seconded by Randy Quick. Commissioner Mark Cochran recused himself from the vote. It passed 7-0.