By RODNEY HOemail@example.com, originally filed Monday, March 2, 2015
Jim Sells, former mayor of Grantville in Coweta County, has put most of the commercial district for sale on eBay and is stoking the flames of publicity by promoting the fact it was used in a popular season 3 episode of "The Walking Dead."
Three years ago, Sells said he purchased 12 distressed commercial properties for $300,000 - most of Grantville's downtown district - in hopes of revitalizing the area. A couple of restaurants came and went. He has drawn a salon and a pharmacy, but most of the buildings remain empty.
As a residential investment specialist, he said he couldn't quite turn things around on the commercial side. "I've been so busy with 300 rental homes, I just didn't get the job done," Sells said in an interview today. "Our example is Senoia [25 miles east]. We are both in Coweta County. We watched that town explode. It'll take the right guy on a white horse. I won't just take anybody." (Senoia was used as Woodbury season 3 of "The Walking Dead.")
Sells' former city manager Javier Garcia told Sells he could get more exposure by placing the properties on eBay. So this past Friday, Feb. 27, Sells put Grantville up for sale for $680,000. He is not accepting any offer under $680,000 but he'll be happy to consider anything more than that - of course. He plans to keep the listing up for another 23 days.
Soon after, the local paper wrote about the sale and news has spread rapidly. He has gotten coverage from the local TV stations, CNN and outlets from New York and California. "Today is just crazy," Sells said.
Sells bought the properties in foreclosure and has invested about $150,000 in them. He isn't trying to make a huge profit, he said. He owns 100 properties within a mile of downtown so if the town is revitalized, he benefits in higher property values and rents.
Grantville is small. Its population is 3,500. While Sells has a home in Peachtree City, he keeps an apartment in Grantville and stays there part of the week.
"The city is in the path of progress," Sells said. "It's been overlooked. It has its own interstate exit. The downtown has drawn several movie production companies who want to work here this spring."
Already, "Dumb & Dumber To," Shia LaBeouf's "Lawless' and Toby Keith's "Broken Bridges" have used Grantville for shoots.
But a single episode of "The Walking Dead" was enough to put Grantville on the map for Atlanta Movie Tour folks, who bring people into town three days a week.
In that episode, which aired two years ago tomorrow on March 3, 2013 and can be seen on Netflix, the show's leader Rick Grimes goes for a supply run in his hometown with newcomer Michonne and his son Carl. There, Rick runs into Morgan Jones, who he first met during the very first episode and had since lost touch. Morgan had created a massive periphery to ward off zombies, including barbed wire and caged rats. He had a pretty generous supply of weapons and was holed up in an upstairs apartment, slowly going mad.
This is a key episode because Carl begins to gain trust in Michonne. The two become tight in future episodes.
You get some great views of Grantville in this video of the making of that particular "Walking Dead" episode, called "Clear."
Sells said they re-created Morgan's apartment so "Walking Dead" fans have something to take pictures of.
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