When the state bought the former World of Cola-Cola building four years ago, the plan was to turn it into a museum, but the economic downturn scuttled that idea.
The same happened to plans to tear down the former Georgia Archives building just a few blocks away. The state intended to demolish the 45-year-old structure, but couldn't afford the $5 million bill.
Similar to most local commercial property owners, the state hasn't escaped the area's real estate collapse.
In addition to the one-time Archives and Coke buildings, the state has six other metro Atlanta properties that it either counts as surplus or eventually wants to sell, said Katy Pando, Georgia Building Authority spokeswoman. Among the properties is what was formerly the state farmer's market on Murphy Road and Pullman Yard, and once offered a tourist train that operated to and from downtown Atlanta
For now, the state, because of the economy, will hold onto the properties until the real estate market returns to a more favorable position.
As each property sits vacant, however, the state remains on the hook for thousands of dollars in maintenance, security and utilities. To protect the facilities, Pando said power runs at a minimum.
Tim Mescon, an economist and president of Columbus State University, said the state is being prudent. The state would be ill-advised to sell the property for below-market value in a "fire sale," and it wouldn't be sensible to move forward with development plans for the buildings that the state can't afford either.
"It's a municipal, a state and a federal challenge," Mescon said. "All of these entities have to wrestle with the realities of the real estate market right now."
The state purchased the former World of Coke building for $1 million in 2007, in hopes of transforming it into a history museum. The state has not been able to fund the project's $24 million cost, Pando said.
Officials have discussed a state museum for nearly two decades, and Georgia remains one of the few states in the nation without one, Pando said.
Once the state archives moved to Morrow in 2003, officials planned to demolish the building on Capitol Avenue, but they've raised only $3 million of the $5 million demolition cost.
The state put Pullman Yard up for sale in 2008, and its appraised value was $12 million to $14 million. The state figured the location, between the Kirkwood and Candler park neighborhoods, would make it attractive for mixed-use or multi-family housing developers, Pando said.
Only two qualified bids were received, with $3.7 million the highest, forcing the state to reject the offers and take the property off the market.
Other properties the state would like to sell are five acres of land at Atlantic Station, the Department of Labor offices in Gwinnett and Clayton counties, and a Georgia Forestry Commission building in Forsyth County.
There has been one positive development as the properties sit idle. To offset maintenance costs, Pullman Yard and the former state farmer's market have become location shoots for several Hollywood movies, among them “The Blind Side,” “Fast and Furious 5,” “Footloose,” “The Lottery Ticket,” “Ben 10” and “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son.”
In the past two years, the Georgia Building Authority has generated more than $250,000 from film productions, Pando said.