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Development authority wants action on Northwest Regional property

December 22, 2017 GMT

The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority has decided to put a renewed spotlight on the redevelopment of the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital 132-acre site which the city had under option for nearly three years but has not been able to land any prospects. The option expired at the end of June.

Rome City Manager Sammy Rich said the idea now is to look at the military Base Realignment and Closure Commission model when it comes to redeveloping the property. The BRAC manual details how the government will work with local communities to facilitate redevelopment at former military installations that are closed.

Chamber of Commerce President Al Hodge said that as recently as Dec. 15, an outside group was shown the property.

“The discussion was should there be an additional mechanism to transfer the property on an ongoing basis and make sure there was local leadership input into the re-use,” Hodge said.

“Essentially the development authority said this is a high priority for us, let’s see what we can do to get the ball rolling,” Rich said. He explained that a specific redevelopment entity was developed by the legislature for the redevelopment of the old Central State Hospital property, a much larger tract in Milledgeville. Hodge said the formal ownership of the property was an issue related to ongoing maintenance of the site. Local construction crews were on the hospital property Thursday working on a number of broken water pipes.

Rich said he would not rule out seeking another option for the city to control the fate of the property.

“I wouldn’t rule that out, but I think it’s obvious that we’re going to need some help from our delegation in working with the state,” Rich said.

The development authority agreed to a delay of the third phase of financial aid to Mohawk Industries for the retooling of operations at its plant on Lavender Drive. Development authority attorney Andy Davis said the company informed the authority that due to business economic conditions Mohawk was not going to be able to meet all of the obligations that were set out in the original payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the development authority

Hodge said the company had spent approximately $11 million of the original $31 million project.

“For the amount of money they’ve spent, they’ve gotten incentives for that only.” Davis said.

Hodge said Mohawk had not abandoned plans for the third phase of their project, but had delayed that work at this time. During some of the re-tooling and modernization that has been taking place, some employees had been offered jobs at other plants with the idea that they could return to Rome at some point in the future. Hodge could not say how the delay of Phase Three would impact the current employment situation.