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Berry's Lavender Mountain Senior facility will pay PILOT fees, not taxes

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The Spires at Berry

An artist's rendering of The Spires at Berry - a proposed continuing care retirement community. Construction is expected to start in the summer of 2018. (Art contributed, Berry College)

Berry College attorney Danny Price said The Spires has not asked for any tax allocation, incentives or other financial assistance from the city or county in the development of the project. “It has simply asked that its tax-exempt status be recognized, and offered to contribute a negotiated amount to the benefit of the city, in exchange for the benefit of long-term certainty on what that amount will be,” Price said in an e-mail response to the Rome News-Tribune,

The manager said the property is currently in unincorporated Floyd County but Berry officials plan to seek annexation into the city.

The draft agreement calls for the project to make a payment in an amount equal to the greater of $100 per independent living unit that is occupied at the end of any given fiscal year, or $20,000.

The $20,000 amount seems to be the likely figure since the development only contemplates 177 independent living units. The facility would also include 33 assisted living units, 34 skilled nursing units and 33 memory care units, according to the documents submitted to the city’s Redevelopment committee Wednesday.

“While I’m excited about the new investment in the community, the new residents, the growth and all that, unfortunately it’s not like landing a new $130 million shipping center or industry,” said Rich. The draft agreement indicates Berry expects to invest about $135 million in the development which would be located near the old Florida Rock quarry off Redmond Circle.

The proposed agreement does include a clause which stipulates that in the event any property in the development would become subject to taxation during the terms of a ground lease, such as a restaurant, the amount of taxes paid by that entity would be credited against the PILOT payment.

After ten years, the PILOT fee would be subject to renegotiation.

The city would generate some revenue from the project through water and sewer fees. The city would also assist Berry with the development of an entrance road to the facility off Redmond Circle. Rich also explained that Berry would pay all appropriate fees associated with construction. “They will pay their way just like any project would,” Rich said.

The Lavender Mountain Senior Living Center project is currently being reviewed by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission as a Development of Regional Interest.

“They’re chomping at the bit to get this project wrapped up,” Rich said referring to Berry College. College spokesperson Chris Kozelle said the college plans to begin construction in the summer of 2018. “Construction will be all at once but the independent living portion will likely be completed first,” Kozelle said in an e-mail.