Church deal could have hidden costs for new stadium

by: Jim Strickland Updated:

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ATLANTA —

Consumer investigator Jim Strickland has learned the deal to relocate Friendship Baptist Church to make room for a Falcons stadium south of the Georgia Dome may cost millions more than the announced sale price of $19.5 million.

Documents obtained through an open records request show the church is demanding that the city help to relocate the church to the site of the vacant Middleton Towers dorm on the campus of bankrupt Morris Brown College. The site is only one block away.

"On the construction costs and the real estate acquisition costs alone, if they are to be where they've been for 151 years, you're right at $19.5 million said Mayor Kasim Reed yesterday responding to one of Strickland's questions.

But documents show the Falcons would be on the hook for key cost overruns associated with the relocation to Morris Brown or any other site.
The church costs are capped at $1 million for land acquisition, only $500,000 for site prep. The
Falcons would have to pay any difference. The total extra money the Falcons could pay is $3.8 million.

That's what the sellers of these churches and the other parcels have on their side is "Look, you can go to the north side, but what's it going to cost you at the end of the day,'" said commercial real estate broker Michael Bull.

Bull says the costs of moving power poles and removing contaminated soil on the north site may force the Falcons to reconsider the south site, and kick in extra money to relocate Mount Vernon Baptist as well. The church is asking triple the $6.2 million on the table when the Georgia World Congress Center broke off negotiations last week.

"It still could make sense for the buyer to go to the south side and overpay," said Bull.

The other complication for church's relocation is the Morris Brown bankruptcy. A federal judge will have a key role in deciding whether the dorms will be sold.