City of Decatur shores up debt payment on building that will house new restaurant

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt December 20, 2016

The Solarium at the historic Scottish Rite building in Oakhurst. Photo by: Dan Whisenhunt

In 2014, the city of Decatur decided to become the landlord of the historic Scottish Rite space in Oakhurst.

In order to resolve an ongoing lawsuit, the city agreed to purchase the property via its Downtown Development Authority for $1.45 million.

Over two years later, the city is awaiting income to make a payment on the debt issued to purchase the property.

Scout, a new restaurant featuring Southern fare and comfort foods, will open Wednesday, Dec. 21, Assistant City Manager Lyn Menne told the Decatur City Commission.

Menne spoke during the Dec. 19 City Commission meeting. She asked for money to make the debt payment on the building. The City Commission approved providing $48,560 in available homestead option sales tax money so the city’s Downtown Development Authority can make the $109,560 payment due in January.

Menne said the process of leasing the space and earning rental income to service the debt took longer than expected.

“Without that rental income, we are struggling to make that payment,” Menne said. “We anticipate once we start [receiving] the rent payments in January, we will be in a break-even position.”

Scout will open in the space formerly occupied by McGowan’s Oakhurst Pub.

The closure of McGowan’s brought to light a lawsuit between the building’s former owners, Progressive Decatur, and the nonprofit that fought to save the historic property, the Community Center of South Decatur. The lawsuit was resolved when the city of Decatur, via its Development Authority, stepped in to buy the property.

Scout was supposed to open in the summer, but like so many new restaurants, the opening was delayed.

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Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of

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