Rome City Commission calls special meeting Friday to OK West Third site sale: Set for 8 a.m. Friday at Courtyard Rome Riverfront, Rome City commissioners are expected to approve the sale of 2.14 acres off West Third Street to Four Stone Real Estate, also known as Impact Rome River District LLC. The deal has been brewing for months as Four Stone has proposed massive redevelopment along West Third and in the River District including apartments, retail, a brewery and community center. At last report, the going rate was $407,000. If approved, it ends a long chapter where the city purchased the site in hopes of spurring development. Several projects had been proposed, most offering residential and retail.
Update: By unanimous vote, Rome’s City Commission votes to move forward with negotiations with Four Stones on purchasing 2.2 city-owned acres off West Third as part of the real estate company’s plans to redevelop much of the area between Fifth Avenue and the Courtyard Rome Marriott.
Four Stones’ presentation to the City Commission is under way, via Zoom: Four Stones opens by calling the area the “front door” to what they hope to do in the River District. Much of the first phase is between West Third Street and the banks of the Oostanaula River.
Commissioner Wendy Davis asks about what the first phase will be. FSRE says phase one would go from the Courtyard Rome Riverwalk to Five Avenue below West Third Street. Phase One would include property Four Stone already owns and then the city’s 2.2 acres they want to buy for $407,000. Phase two would take in land on the other side of the Courtyard to Second Avenue.
Commissioner Bill Collins, like Davis, asks about residential pricing (“work-force housing.”) Collins says there’s a lot of housing along Broad Street that is occupied by older residents who have made some noise complaints. Collins says he’s hoping for residential options for younger people.
Mayor Craig McDaniel asks about existing buildings. He wants to know what might come down. Grigsby says some of the buildings have structural issues. FSRE says the print shop and trophy shop would remain, and perhaps redesigned. Another plus, he says, is the alley way off Five Avenue into the area. The company likewise would look at purchasing some of the buildings lining Fifth Avenue at this time.
McDaniel also asks about the time line. The answer: By the end of the year if possible.
Commissioner Mark Cochran, who’s campaign was focused on riverfront development, asks about the mixed use of the area. FSRE says the plan is to bring retail and housing online at the same time. Collins asks about how many housing units. FSRE says the current plan is 200 to 220 units.
City Manager Sammy Rich says the plan should be to move ahead with the potential purchase deal and whether a TAD would be involved in the process. FSRE’s Alex Dominquez says the company hopes to have an additional work session to join with the city as different aspects of the project come together.
The session with Four Stones ends at 5:40 p.m.
BACKGROUND ON WEST THIRD PLANS
More than a decade ago, there was a plan fronted by Doc Kibler and Dee Yancey to develop much of the land between Floyd Medical Center to the banks of the Oostanaula River. The sweeping proposal, assembled by the late local real estate whiz Ronnie Mixon, would include relocating Barron Stadium to make way for a mixed-use project heavy on medical but with other prospects as well.
That plan went away and others have surfaced since, the latest ones targeting 2.2 acres the city of Rome purchased with an eye on long-term development off West Third Street. We’ve seen condos with mixed-use retail and other ideas brought before the City Commission. There was even talk of reservations made for penthouse accommodations but, again, none of them got beyond soil testing and some beautiful renderings complimenting Courtyard Rome Riverwalk, River City Bank and several upgrades at Barron Stadium.
That trio as The Foundry, Aventine, Sunflour, the upcoming Blossom Hill barbecue and others have set a pace for rediscovering under utilized property just blocks from Broad Street.
But now comes another bigger-picture player, Four Stones Real Estate’s Rome River District LLC, with plans to purchase the city’s two-plus acres for $407,000 and incorporate them into a much larger footprint.
That pitch is due before the City Commission during its caucus on Monday beginning at 5 p.m. Bob Grigsby, who has been vocal about his group’s plans for revitalizing West Third and connecting streets, and his partners propose paying cash as of March 31 for the property but “will need generous infrastructure support and tax incentives from the City of Rome plus additional enhancements from other sources …” (please read below).
Four Stones’ partners see a “blank canvas” that is “prime for a vibrant redevelopment given all of its natural amenities” (please read below).
Four Stones and Ira Levy’s group were the only proposals received by the city by the December deadline. Levy, who is credited for redeveloping downtown Rome through a continuing series of projects, had proposed a high-end resident development with mixed use. A group of city employees reviewed both plans and favored Four Stones because it offered something different than what is on Broad Street today.
In series of recent committee meetings, more has emerged about the Four Stones proposal. A recent redevelopment committee meeting concluded the group needed to make a pitch before the entire City Commission before further consideration.
They’ll hear plans about a brewery (Grigsby opened one recently, Iron Shield, in Gwinnett County and is a partner in Big Kettle Brewing), amphitheater, five-story loft accommodations, a fixed farmer’s/artisan’s market and other amenities.