City Hall East sale imminent

On Monday, Mayor Kasim Reed is expected to announce the long-awaited sale of City Hall East to Jamestown Properties. The 85-year-old building -- once a huge Sears complex -- has been a white elephant of sorts along one of Atlanta’s most central thoroughfares.

When then-Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson announced the deal to buy the Sears building for $12 million in 1990, he called it "the deal of the century." Less than five years later, renovation costs had skyrocketed and lease income didn't materialize, in part because of limitations on the debt used to finance it. Atlanta never fully occupied the 2 million square foot building, which is one considered one of the largest in the Southeast.

When the city moved out in the middle of the recession, the hulking building on Ponce de Leon Ave. remained empty, awaiting sale to a developer. One developer’s plans to create a huge live-work-play complex stalled out due to the recession and difficulty financing the project. Then Jamestown stepped in with a vision that includes shops as well as room for offices that could be filled with high-tech firms. The firm is expected to pay $27 million for the property.

The Monday announcement also is expected to include details about a public-private partnership for the redevelopment.

Sears closed its retail store there in 1979 and warehouse operations in the mid-1980s. Atlanta purchased the property in 1990 for administrative offices and continued its partial occupancy until mid-2010.