JDA, Jacoby sign MOU for mill site project

January 30, 2020, by Jill Helton, Tribune and Georgian.

A redevelopment plan for the former paper mill site in St. Marys got one step closer to reality last week with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Camden County Joint Development Authority (JDA) and Jacoby Development.

Described as an essential first step in the process, the 27-page memorandum outlines the frameworks and parameters for an eventual development agreement. JDA chairman Jeff Barker said he hopes a finalized development agreement will be ready for consideration at their March 12 board meeting.

“Any public/private partnership of this magnitude is complex,” Barker said in a statement following the JDA’s Jan. 23 meeting. “It is certainly the largest and most complex initiative this JDA has undertaken. It includes issuance of bonds and the methods for repayment of those bonds. It includes details of TAD (tax allocation district) funding. It includes timelines and expectations on the part of all participants. It sets the stage for creating a successful development agreement necessary to keep the project rolling and provide the developer with elements of financing vehicles that he needs to attract quality sub-developers.

Until the final agreement is approved, the details will not be open for public scrutiny. However, Barker said he and the other members of the JDA remain committed to protecting the public’s interests.

“With any public/private partnership as complex as one covering more than 700 acres, there are numerous details that must be addressed and resolved. From a JDA perspective, we would be committing taxpayer dollars via bonding commitments, city TAD funds and JDA and county funds. We do not take that responsibility lightly and must be absolutely certain taxpayer dollars are protected in any public/private venture. As much as it may be frustrating to an anxious public, we need those protections in place. Complex public/private financing takes time but be assured that every member of this Board wants to see this project implemented and I know that Jim Jacoby does as well,” Barker continued.

Camden County first learned last fall that Jacoby had secured a contract for the purchase of the mill. The Atlanta-based developer has an array of notable developments throughout the world. Many Georgians are familiar with his work on Atlantic Station, which turned a former steel mill site in Atlanta into a mixeduse, modern residential and commercial property that has been an economic boon to that area.

In St. Marys, Jacoby plans to follow through with the Camden County Joint Development Authority’s vision for a marine facility, where boats can be docked, serviced and stored with some minor redesigns. It also includes a town center with restaurant, retail and residential units.

Another major component is an aquaculture farm that will create an eco-friendly industry that not only serves the community by proving jobs but also regional produce and seafood needs.

Jacoby said he is projecting that whole project will create about 500 jobs and represent a private investment of about $500 million. There is already a tax allocation district on the site, which he said was a definite enticement.

If all goes as planned, Jacoby said he anticipated a three- to five-year build-out of the site.

Source: Tribune and Georgian