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.”

A National Auction Group aerial photo showing the location of the 80 Johnson Ferry Road property next to the Marsh Creek pond project.

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.

A city illustration of the Marsh Creek pond and park project.

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.

One reply on “Sandy Springs property, once an eminent domain target, to be auctioned”

  1. Good for Stephen Johnston. He fought the City because they wanted to take land they didn’t need – land he had invested in, improved and he deserves to get a good return on his investment. The moral of this story is that the City needs to be much more thoughtful before attempting to take people’s property. Had he rolled over, they would have unnecessarily expanded this project because they could. His property may well be worth more today because of the Sandy Springs improvements but who else should reap those profits if not the landowner who has had to put up with a blighted community because Sandy Springs bought and closed the Target building for nearly 10 years. I’m also glad he raised a red flag over possible historic implications. Recall, no one in City government or elected leadership thought the iconic chimney at Overlook was historic or worth saving. Today it is featured in nearly every publication the city puts out.

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