• Mayor: City reaches deal to buy Friendship Baptist Church


    ATLANTA - Mayor Kasim Reed has announced there is an agreement for the city to purchase Friendship Baptist Church for $19.5 million, reopening the possibilities for a new Falcons stadium on the south site.

    Reed made the announcement in a news conference in City Hall on Tuesday.

    A deal still needs to be approved by Friendship members. A leader from the church who was at the news conference with Reed told Channel 2's John Bachman in the past that majority of members have voted to pursue this deal.

    Meanwhile, the mayor reiterated he thought the stadium should be on the southside, calling it the most sustainable location for the stadium over the next several decades.

    He said the Falcons should still test the northside to see how feasible it would be for the new stadium, but the Falcons and the state should not shut down negotiations, because they were five days past the deadline.

    "We're not going to force these churches to sell, but I do believe, however, and I'm going to respectfully request today, that the Georgia World Congress Center, our state partner, will renew their efforts to come to an agreement with Mount Vernon (Baptist Church)," Reed said.

    Sources told Bachman late Monday night that the mayor was expected to get behind plans for the north site location on Ivan Allen Boulevard between Marietta Street and Northside Drive.

    However, Bachman later learned about major developments regarding negotiations on the south site and two churches that would need to be relocated for construction to take place.

    The mayor had not spoken about the stadium since negotiations with two churches to obtain a site south of the Georgia Dome fell apart.

    Documents obtained by Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland revealed Mt. Vernon Baptist Church asked for $20,375,000 to sell the church to make room for the new stadium.

    The figure is more than triple the $6.2 million the Georgia World Congress Center Authority countered with in its final offer.

    The Falcons continue to develop plans for the retractable roof stadium which they hope to open in 2017.

    The Falcons released the following statement:

    “We commend the Mayor, city officials and the congregation of Friendship Baptist Church for all of their hard work in reaching a tentative agreement for the acquisition of the church property. The church property purchase price falls within the terms of the MOU for the acquisition of property adjacent to the proposed south site for the new stadium. This is certainly a positive development for the south site; however, other significant issues and requirements remain unresolved on that site.”

    Meanwhile, the state is legally bound by how much it can offer Mount Vernon. So, if a deal happens, likely millions more dollars will be needed from the private sector.

    Channel 2 Action News learned Tuesday Mayor Reed is calling on Ambassador Andrew Young to help the Georgia World Congress Center and Mt. Vernon Baptist reach a deal for the church.

    Young said he is optimistic a deal will be reached between the two sides.

    "These are people that like each other, that love each other, it's like a family, they don't always agree, but in the end they will come together and do what's best for the city of Atlanta," Young said,

    Young said he talks with the Reed periodically because he knows how difficult it can be when you sit in that chair.

    "It is the mayor's job to see into the future and how moves made today will impact generations in the future and putting that dome on the south side will revitalize that area, bringing jobs and upgrades that might not ever get there," Young said.

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    Mayor: City reaches deal to buy Friendship Baptist Church