Artist’s rendering depicts the new entrance of the redeveloped North Point Mall in Alpharetta. A North Point Eco-District preview is planned at the mall Thursday, Oct. 17. DWELL DESIGN STUDIO
Photo: For the AJC
Photo: For the AJC

Alpharetta to vote on controversial plan to fund North Point project

A tax allocation district (TAD) would redirect all property taxes from the mall and nearby businesses to a pot of money that would fund improvements needed to successfully yield hundreds of apartments, 2.5 million square feet of new or rehabbed retail/office space and making a 266-acre sea of asphalt more verdant with public parks.

Because a TAD draws tax money from the county and schools, each must agree to forego the funds once the district is approved.

A TAD to fund Atlanta’s Beltline spurred a 2008 Georgia Supreme Court decision that property tax funds dedicated to schools couldn’t be used in TADs. That was later reversed by the General Assembly, and now school districts must consent to participate in a new TAD.

READ | Leaders consider how to pay for North Point mixed-use improvements

So even if Alpharetta City Council members vote to approve the TAD on Monday, experts say they have the best chance of succeeding if they get the blessing from both Fulton County and the Fulton County Schools to divert their property taxes into the TAD. All three government entities stand to lose significant tax income under the arrangement.

Forecasting numbers show that, over a 25-year life of the special tax arrangement, Alpharetta would miss out on between $9 million and $12 million in tax income; the county would lose between $19 million and $26 million; and the schools would lose between $36 million to $48 million.

Geoff Koski, president of the real estate consultant firm Bleakly Advisory Group, on Monday told the Alpharetta City Council that North Point being a “deteriorating area” makes it a candidate for a TAD.

READ | North Point Mall’s massive mixed-use plan is another suburban trade-off

The slowing business at the 26-year-old North Point Mall — Koski’s firm found North Point’s vacancy recently rose above 20% — is symptomatic of traditional retail’s national decline. People see online shopping like Amazon as better than fighting a mall parking lot to buy a holiday sweater.

No council members voiced outright opposition to the TAD on Monday, and no residents spoke during public comment.

The final vote on the tax district is scheduled to take place at the next City Council meeting at 6:30 on Monday, Dec. 16 at city hall, 2 Park Plaza.

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