By Gerhard Schneibel and John Schaffner

The Sandy Springs City Council has authorized negotiating a contract to purchase for $8 million the Target store site on Johnson Ferry Road at Sandy Springs Circle for a City Hall complex.

“We have made an offer, and we are waiting to see what the response will be, but we feel the Target site could work with regard to location for an eventual City Hall,” Mayor Eva Galambos said.

Asked whether the $8 million offer, approved July 8, is in line with Minneapolis-based Target’s asking price for the 7.75-acre site, the mayor said, “We were right on target.”

City Attorney Wendell Willard told the council July 8 the city will have to close on the property by Dec. 17, but the option agreement calls for a 60-day due-diligence period to examine the property and facility and to gather public input before finalizing the deal. The site includes the store, which is approximately 89,000 square feet, and the parking area. It does not include the Goodwill facility next door, which is owned by a person who lives out of state.

“We have reached an agreement with Target verbally, an option agreement calling for a possible purchase of the Target site,” Willard said.

Both Willard and City Manager John McDonough suggested the option agreement might be ready for execution within 10 days.

“Our intent now is to move quickly into addressing the issues that we need to look at such as appraisals, environmental issues and those types of things,” McDonough said. “We’ll begin to do those in the next several weeks.”

Target reportedly will move to its new location in the Prado on Roswell Road in mid-October.

Dist. 6 Councilwoman Karen Meinzen McEnerny, who has been an advocate of the Target site for City Hall, said the property is in the historical center of Sandy Springs. She said it is accessible from four major roads leading to locations throughout the city: Johnson Ferry Road, Sandy Springs Circle, Mount Vernon Highway and Roswell Road.

“Being able to locate our government facilities there is just building on the past for the future,” McEnerny said. “I’m absolutely thrilled with this opportunity that presented itself. From speaking with constituents all over the city, that is the site that is consistently coming up as what they think of as a location for City Hall.”

The official word is that the property would be used to expand the city’s government services. It might temporarily house the police station but would eventually become the site for City Hall, Galambos said.

“We’re on to something,” the mayor said at the July 8 council meeting, followed by a happy laugh.

“We will have to move [the police station], and we might be able to move them into the Target building,” she said. “We don’t have the money to build a City Hall now. We only have the money to buy the site.”

McDonough said the North Fulton (County) Annex building on Roswell Road is another possible site for the police headquarters.

According to McDonough and Galambos, the Target site did not come to the city through the formal “request for information” (RFI) for a City Hall location that the city issued this year. A commercial brokerage made the city aware of the site being on the market about the same time the RFI responses were due back to the city, which was June 6.

McDonough said the city received four responses to the RFI, but only one was a real response with actual dollar values included.

He said the Target site was singled out as the most feasible option. Several sources said enthusiasm for the Target property is unanimous on the council.

The Target location has “often been thought of as an excellent location at the heart of Sandy Springs,” McDonough said.