The city of Decatur is getting help from the state legislature to buy the United Children's Methodist Home. But that doesn't guarantee a sale.
Lawmakers passed a bill that would create the Decatur Public Facilities Authority, which the city needs to buy the 77-acre property. It would enable Decatur to purchase any property not within city limits.
Decatur's Downtown Development Authority can't fund the property because it is right outside of city limits. Decatur's Development Authority also can't issue bonds because it would require a commercial use of the land and a number of permanent full-time jobs. And Peggy Merriss, the city's manager, says the city doesn't want to do either with the property.
Merriss said the city reached out to Senator Elena Parent, D-Decatur, for help. She sponsored the bill, which is headed to Gov. Nathan Deal for a signature.
John Cerniglia is the vice president of development at the children's home. He said even if Deal signs the bill, which he is expected to do, that doesn't mean the sale is a done deal.
"As of today, we don't have anything in contract with the city, and so certainly the interests that we have heard from other developers are legitimate," he said.
Cerniglia said there is no timeline for the home's board of trustees to make a decision on a buyer. The board decided last month to sell the property.
If the bill is not signed, Merriss said the city will have to go back to the drawing board to find a way to get funds. She adds if the bill passes and if the city buys the children's home, it will annex the 77 acres.