A state agency negotiating for land to build a new stadium for NFL team Atlanta Falcons officially abandoned the talks after one of the two churches on the site refused to accept an amount that was $14 million less than the figure needed for relocation, according to city records.
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority's (GWCCA) "best and final" offer of $6.2 million was not acceptable to Mount Vernon Baptist Church, which had asked for $20.375 million for its property, according to records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"To say that this proposal is extremely disappointing to my client is a gross understatement," Mount Vernon's attorney William Montgomery told state officials in an email on Friday, a day after the authority told the church it was "abandoning its efforts" at a deal. "The Church views the offered amount as insulting."
Montgomery acknowledged the authority could not offer more than appraised fair-market value for land. However, the church would need about $20.3 million for relocation, which would involve buying land and constructing a new building in the Vine City area, according to an extensive "cost valuation report" prepared for Mount Vernon. The amount the church was expecting included $2.73 million as compensation for losing revenue from special-events parking on its property over the next 25 years.
The authority made an initial offer of $4,827,500 on July 1, which was promptly rejected by Mount Vernon.
Mount Vernon is one of the two churches on the site preferred by the city of Atlanta to build a $1 billion retractable-roof stadium on the south site of the Georgia Dome. The authority's failure to acquire Mount Vernon also makes negotiations to purchase the other church, Friendship Baptist, redundant to stadium planners.
In June, The Christian Post reported that the Friendship church asked Atlanta's mayor for $24.5 million to sell their church to the city.
The authority and the Falcons are now looking at a second site on the northwest edge of the downtown area. On Tuesday, the GWCCA board voted to allow the Falcons to begin the north-site feasibility study.
The Falcons had favored the north site initially, but city officials still considered the south an option for the stadium.
WAGA-TV earlier reported that the north site faces a few challenges before any decision can be made, including contaminated soil under a parking lot and several overhead power lines that would be removed. It is reportedly being opposed by surrounding neighbors and people who object the proposed stadium's inaccessibility to the nearest metro rail station.
In the summer of 2017, the Falcons want to open their season in a new stadium.