Two years ago, Sandy Springs business owner Stephen Johnston successfully fought a city effort to take part of his 80 Johnson Ferry Road property for the Marsh Creek pond project. Now Johnston is about to auction off the property and says the pond project is a plus for the sale.
“When all’s said and done, [the city’s] actions have improved the value of the property,” Johnston said. “Looking at the drawings and everything, [the Marsh Creek pond] looks like it’s going to look nice.”
Johnston bought the Johnson Ferry property, which includes a house and garage and warehouse, in 2010 as offices for his company, Lucid Communications Services. He said the company will move out July 1 and share space elsewhere in Sandy Springs with another of his family’s technology businesses. An on-site auction to sell the property is slated for June 16.
In 2014, the city began acquiring land for the Marsh Creek project next door to Johnston’s business. The project, now under construction, is a stormwater detention pond that will double as a 2-acre public park. The city wanted the back half of Johnston’s property for the pond, and when he turned down an offer, the city attempted to take the land by eminent domain.
Johnston fought the land-taking in part due to the property’s 1820s frontier history as the Austin family farm and reported traces of a historic house and well. At the time, he expressed concern that the pond project would “wipe the history out.”
A city study found no significant historic artifacts on the site that would affected the pond project or future redevelopment, Johnston now says. “I wasn’t happy with them trying to take the property. That was the major issue,” he said.
Johnston did succeed in fighting off the eminent domain. He and city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said the city ended up redesigning the project to avoid using his property.
Now Johnston intends to sell the property because of the hot real estate market and the new company offices available. He said he thinks the pond project has already changed the local groundwater enough that it would be possible to run a culvert through the back yard and create a parking lot—a good selling point.
The 80 Johnson Ferry property is about eight-tenths of an acre and has zoning that allows for both residential and office use, according to the city zoning map. An advertisement from auctioneer National Auction Group says that zoning “provides seemingly endless possibilities to the development potential of this property.” The ad highlights the property’s proximity to the Marsh Creek project and the city’s City Springs development.
Joining in the June 16 auction requires a $25,000 deposit. For more information, see nationalauctiongroup.com.