Letters to the Editor

To the editor:

I have a solution to the Epstein School controversy that is truly win-win for everyone. Nobody wants a win-lose solution. As a former venture capitalist and investment banker, I know how to make things work, especially from a business view and an economic view.

Here is what I propose. Epstein’s property is obviously very valuable. But we are in difficult economic times, especially in real estate. That presents an opportunity for Epstein and for the city of Sandy Springs.

In Sandy Springs, we have properties that are blighted and in need of redevelopment. Epstein can purchase one of those properties, probably at a great deal because of the market conditions. It could get a property to build on, and the city and residents of Sandy Springs would get an area redeveloped.

As they go through the acquisition and building process, they should continue operations at their current site. When the new site is close to completion, the economy and market conditions should be significantly improved, thus raising the marketability and price they can get for their existing site. There will be developers that would probably be very interested in their site. A vibrant Sandy Springs would mean there would be developers who would be interested in building mid- and high-end homes on that site. Although I like affordable housing, I think high-end homes also improve an area.

I lived in Smyrna for years before moving to Sandy Springs. What I saw was a redevelopment that was nothing short of miraculous. They redeveloped the city center into a true showcase. Developers built mid- and high-end homes on Atlanta Road, East-West Connector and other places throughout the city.

In the mid-1980s, National Geographic Magazine did a story on Smyrna, calling it the “Redneck Capital of the South.” In 1988, Smyrna leaders teamed up with the Atlanta Regional Commission to improve their city. It took a $23 million redevelopment and 15 years to develop the Village Green, covering 15 acres, and make numerous other improvements to the city. It is now considered to be a great place to live within metro Atlanta. People refer to that area as “Smynings,” referring to both Smyrna and Vinings. The cachet of Vinings has carried over to Smyrna. When I first moved to Smyrna, I told people that I lived in greater Vinings. Now you can say that you live in Smyrna and people will not laugh at you or pity you.

My hope is that Sandy Springs will be one of the top places in metro Atlanta in which to live. I am proud to be a citizen of this city and truly commend your efforts in improving our city. Since we became a city, I have seen so many positive changes. When I talk to others around metro Atlanta, I proudly say that I live in the new city of Sandy Springs.

Although The Epstein School has invested significant time and money in the expansion plans, it is not too late to develop a different solution that is beneficial to all parties. I would be willing to help design a plan that would involve finding a new site within our vast city and assist in the development of a project plan. I would not even charge anything for my consulting services. Others might be willing to assist as well. We can truly be neighbors helping neighbors. What I am proposing may be innovative and a paradigm shift.

If Smyrna can transform into a showcase, if an abandoned hazardous waste site can be transformed into another showcase (Atlantic Station), then Sandy Springs also can be a showcase. We can have the managed growth and improvements that will benefit everyone.

Those of you on the Planning Commission can assist the City Council in making this happen. I appreciate your efforts and time. You have conducted the public meetings in an organized and fair manner, and you are to be congratulated. It is difficult to conduct meetings in which there is some controversy.

Jeff Kamin

To the editor:

I have a solution to the Epstein School controversy that is truly win-win for everyone. Nobody wants a win-lose solution. As a former venture capitalist and investment banker, I know how to make things work, especially from a business view and an economic view.

Here is what I propose. Epstein’s property is obviously very valuable. But we are in difficult economic times, especially in real estate. That presents an opportunity for Epstein and for the city of Sandy Springs.

In Sandy Springs, we have properties that are blighted and in need of redevelopment. Epstein can purchase one of those properties, probably at a great deal because of the market conditions. It could get a property to build on, and the city and residents of Sandy Springs would get an area redeveloped.

As they go through the acquisition and building process, they should continue operations at their current site. When the new site is close to completion, the economy and market conditions should be significantly improved, thus raising the marketability and price they can get for their existing site. There will be developers that would probably be very interested in their site. A vibrant Sandy Springs would mean there would be developers who would be interested in building mid- and high-end homes on that site. Although I like affordable housing, I think high-end homes also improve an area.

I lived in Smyrna for years before moving to Sandy Springs. What I saw was a redevelopment that was nothing short of miraculous. They redeveloped the city center into a true showcase. Developers built mid- and high-end homes on Atlanta Road, East-West Connector and other places throughout the city.

In the mid-1980s, National Geographic Magazine did a story on Smyrna, calling it the “Redneck Capital of the South.” In 1988, Smyrna leaders teamed up with the Atlanta Regional Commission to improve their city. It took a $23 million redevelopment and 15 years to develop the Village Green, covering 15 acres, and make numerous other improvements to the city. It is now considered to be a great place to live within metro Atlanta. People refer to that area as “Smynings,” referring to both Smyrna and Vinings. The cachet of Vinings has carried over to Smyrna. When I first moved to Smyrna, I told people that I lived in greater Vinings. Now you can say that you live in Smyrna and people will not laugh at you or pity you.

My hope is that Sandy Springs will be one of the top places in metro Atlanta in which to live. I am proud to be a citizen of this city and truly commend your efforts in improving our city. Since we became a city, I have seen so many positive changes. When I talk to others around metro Atlanta, I proudly say that I live in the new city of Sandy Springs.

Although The Epstein School has invested significant time and money in the expansion plans, it is not too late to develop a different solution that is beneficial to all parties. I would be willing to help design a plan that would involve finding a new site within our vast city and assist in the development of a project plan. I would not even charge anything for my consulting services. Others might be willing to assist as well. We can truly be neighbors helping neighbors. What I am proposing may be innovative and a paradigm shift.

If Smyrna can transform into a showcase, if an abandoned hazardous waste site can be transformed into another showcase (Atlantic Station), then Sandy Springs also can be a showcase. We can have the managed growth and improvements that will benefit everyone.

Those of you on the Planning Commission can assist the City Council in making this happen. I appreciate your efforts and time. You have conducted the public meetings in an organized and fair manner, and you are to be congratulated. It is difficult to conduct meetings in which there is some controversy.

Jeff Kamin