Decatur completes purchase of United Methodist Children’s Home

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt August 16, 2017

The United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

It’s official. The city of Decatur now owns the 77-acre campus of the United Methodist Children’s home.

The city completed the sale on Aug. 16. The purchase price is $40 million. The city made the purchase using its newly created Public Facilities Authority, which borrowed most of the money for the deal. The city also received a low interest $11.5 million loan through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. The loan will pay for the purchase of 22 acres out of the total 77 acre campus on South Columbia Drive. The city won’t be able to develop this property as part of the loan agreement.

“We appreciate all of the assistance we have received in making this project a success. We have had a wonderful working relationship with the Board, staff and others affiliated with the UMCH,” Mayor Patti Garrett said. “All of this would not have been possible without the help of  Georgia General Assembly, particularly Senator Elena Parent and Representatives Drenner, Mosby, Oliver and Shannon who were instrumental in establishing the Decatur Public Facilities Authority.”

The Children’s Home has been in Decatur since 1873 and was established to care for children orphaned during the Civil War. As part of the agreement, UMCH will retain ownership of the Moore Chapel on campus, and the city has agreed to preserve the grave of UMCH founder Jesse Boring.

The city has had its eye on the property for years, but things got rolling earlier this year when rumors began swirling that UMCH indicated wanted to sell the property, possibly to a home developer.

UMCH recently signed leases to relocate its residents and offices from the campus.

The city will use some of the buildings on the property for its Active Living Department, City Manager Peggy Merriss said. The city will begin a community-wide master planning process for the property in January of 2018.

Here’s the full announcement from the city …

Decatur, GA – On August 16, 2017 the sale of approximately 77 acres of property owned by the United Methodist Children’s Home of the North Georgia Conference to the Decatur Public Facilities Authority was completed. The process of acquiring the property took almost nine months and was made possible through the cooperation and support of many people and agencies.

City of Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett said, “We appreciate all of the assistance we have received in making this project a success. We have had a wonderful working relationship with the Board, staff and others affiliated with the UMCH.” She added, “all of this would not have been possible without the help of  Georgia General Assembly, particularly Senator Elena Parent and Representatives Drenner, Mosby, Oliver and Shannon who were instrumental in establishing the Decatur Public Facilities Authority.”

“This property acquisition is an exciting legacy opportunity for the City of Decatur and the Decatur Public Facilities Authority has been glad to assist in making this happen,” said Authority Chair Meredith Struby. Ms. Struby noted that “the community support for this project has been exciting and through late fall, 2017 the United Methodist Children’s Home will be transitioning to a new location in Tucker.

City Manager Peggy Merriss stated, “There are facilities on the property which will be used by the City to meet the current demand for Active Living programming, including significant upgrades to the playing fields.”   Ms. Merriss thanked the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority for their assistance is securing a very low interest loan that allowed for more than 22 acres of the property to be dedicated for use as permanently protected conservation area.

In January, 2018 the City will begin a community-based master planning effort to determine the future use of the property.

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About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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