College Park arena groundbreaking postponed

Jan 30, 2018
College Park delayed a groundbreaking for an arena for the Hawks’ development league. Partners of the basketball team are also planning to redevelop the area surrounding Philips Arena. Ben Gray / AJC FILE PHOTO

A scheduled Tuesday groundbreaking for the $42 million arena that will host the Hawks’ development team was postponed.

College Park, the city that is paying for the project, was in court on Friday waiting for a judge to validate its issuance of $35.8 million in bonds to cover much of the project’s cost.

But Judge John Goger declined to do so after a College Park resident complained that the city’s development authority waived a requirement that the bonds be audited without taking a proper vote.

Attorneys for the city said they would reconsider the decision, but the development authority needs to vote to do so. Earle Taylor, who represented College Park, said the audits had been forgone to save money, but that any delay in approving the bonds could lead to a higher interest rate for the city.

That could cost more than $3 million, Taylor said, and negate the savings from not performing audits.

The development authority meeting was rescheduled for Tuesday evening, after the groundbreaking near Camp Creek Parkway and I-85 was supposed to happen. Kelli Colter, a College Park spokesperson, said the city would proceed with its plans for the 5,000-capacity multipurpose arena once the bonds had been validated. No date has been scheduled.

John Duke, the resident who challenged the bond issuance, said he hoped his complaint would delay the process long enough that the arena’s approval would have to come back before city council. Duke said he thought some members of the council had reconsidered their support for it.

Roderick Gay, the lone “no” vote when the arena was approved, said he thought there was less support now for a project he said does not make financial sense.

About a dozen residents came to court Friday, opposed to the arena project.