Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mayor's Speech a Hit, All Saints Fish Frys Return Tonight

New Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis gave his first State of the City address Tuesday night in a crowded ballroom at the Crowne Ravinia Hotel.  If the mayor's administration is as big a hit as his speech, rest assured the city will be in good hands over the next four years.
Speaking from an outline - and not regurgitating a written speech - the mayor was confident and straight forward.  He also mixed in a bit of humor. 
"I have a lot of friends here tonight," said the mayor.  "And only one person that didn't vote for me.  Sorry Bob (smiling at the man he defeated in the November election, Bob Dallas)."
The mayor once again spoke of the need to "stop buying stuff and start fixing stuff."  He talked about continuing the city's three-year run of operating with a surplus, said the PVC Farm is "not a park yet," and the importance of stopping the executive session leaks. 
The new mayor talked about his vision for economic growth and his plans for a "CEO round table."  He said he'd like to meet with 20 CEO's per month, and lobby "their CEO friends" to move their businesses to Dunwoody.  He said there are 2.3 million square feet of vacant office space in the city, which equates to 10,000 workers, who would eat and shop in Dunwoody during the course of their day.  He said about 70 percent of the city's revenues comes from business, which helps keep our property taxes the lowest in the county.  The mayor did warn that our aging stormwater infrastructure has council considering a yearly rate hike from $48 to $69.  
And the mayor wasn't afraid to tackle our schools, which fall under DeKalb County School System jurisdiction.  "It's our problem, isn't it.  The key for Dunwoody now is to elevate and distinguish our schools from the rest of DeKalb County.  We have to get word out because we do have better schools than the rest of the county."

All Saints Fish Frys Begins

The Lenten season starts Wednesday, which means the start of the All Saints' Knights of Columbus "World Famous Fish Frys."
The Knights serve up fried fish, broiled cod and salmon with sides of hush pupies, roasted potatoes, cole slaw and green beans on Ash Wednesday and each Friday until March 30.  The Fish Frys are from 5pm to 8pm and are open to the public (it's the only time there are almost as many non-Catholics as Catholics on the All Saints campus).  The Knights serve, on average, almost 1,000 meals per night. 
There is a venue change this year, from the All Saints' social hall to the more spacious gymnasium.

While on the Knights, on President's Day the organization, which is credited with adding the words "under God" into the Pledge of Allegience, aired a television ad which reminded our political leaders that freedom of religion, for all religions, has always been acknowledged and embraced by our country's greatest presidents - whether Republican or Democrat. 
As a member of the Knights, I thought the ad was tastefully done.  Click on the photo below to watch.

Monday, February 20, 2012

State of the City Address, Real Estate in Atlanta Attractive Asset

Mayor Mike Davis
Dunwoody, GA – The City of Dunwoody and the Rotary Club of Dunwoody, with assistance from the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce, proudly present the third annual State of the City Address on Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia, located off Ashford Dunwoody Road.

Dunwoody’s new Mayor Mike Davis will deliver this year’s City address focusing on new goals and opportunities for 2012, smart growth, fiscal responsibility, economic development and the key milestones and projects expected to take shape in the coming year.

“Beginning the year with a new mayor, new and returning council members and a number of critical objectives, 2012 promises exciting opportunities for the City," said Warren Hutmacher, City Manager. “At the State of the City address, we not only celebrate the many accomplishments of the past year but we announce a new set of goals and targets for 2012. It’s a high energy event that has become a tradition for the City."

This year’s festivities kick off with a reception beginning at 6:00 p.m. followed by the State of the City Address scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start. In addition to Mayor Davis, the Rotary Club and the City are honored to have Chris Cummiskey, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, as a guest speaker. Entry to the State of the City event is free and open to the public. Early arrival is encouraged, as seating and parking will be limited.

The Presenting sponsor for the third annual State of the City Address is the Rotary Club of Dunwoody in conjunction with the City of Dunwoody and Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce. Carbonara restaurant, a new addition to the quality Dunwoody dining landscape is this year’s VIP event sponsor. Additional participating table sponsors for this event include: The Park at Perimeter Center, Bank of North Georgia, CafĂ© Intermezzo, Clark Patterson Lee, Community and Southern Bank, Convention and Visitors Bureau of Dunwoody, Costco, Dated Events, LLC, Dentistry With a Difference, Dunwoody Development Authority, Georgia Perimeter College, Hill International, Inc., Hotel Equities, InterDev, LLC, Jacobs Engineering, JAT Consulting Services, Inc., Lowe Engineers, Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, Piedmont Bank, Stout Atwood LLC, Sun Trust Bank, and The Crier Newspapers.
For more information regarding the City of Dunwoody or State of the City Address, please contact Edie Damann, Marketing and PR Manager, at 678-382-6700 or edie.damann@dunwoodyga.gov.

Atlanta Real Estate is Attractive Asset

Dr. Marc Faber
 The housing market in the south of the United States is among the most attractive asset classes in the world, Marc Faber, the editor of the Gloom Boom and Doom Report, told CNBC on Friday, because while homebuilder stocks had rallied, property prices hadn`t moved much.

"If you look at the supply of homes, new construction, and you compare it to immigration into the United States, to the growth of the population, then these (southern) markets are very attractive from a longer term perspective," Faber told Bernie Lo on CNBC`s Straight Talk.
Among the markets he pointed to were Atlanta, Phoenix and Miami. Faber said investors could earn a rental yield of 8% per year and buy homes in the south of the US at a 40 to 50% discount to construction costs.

Click Marc Faber to read full story.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Neuman Defense Gets More Bizarre, Why Our Banking System is a Mess, Home Selling Advice

Attorneys in the high-profile murder case against Hemy Neuman said Thursday angels and demons resembling singers Olivia Newton John and Barry White told him to kill Rusty Sneiderman in the parking lot of a Dunwoody preschool.

Neuman admits pulling the trigger but said he did not know right from wrong at the time and should be sentenced to a mental facility instead of prison.
Click photo to watch WSBTV news report.

Click photo to watch WSBTV news report
 Why Our Banking System is a Mess
This week I learned, firsthand, another reason why our banking system is so screwed up.  I am representing a buyer who made an offer on a vacant property that was foreclosed on by Wells Fargo.  The property is clearly unoccupied, and I wouldn't hesitate to guess that it's been unoccupied for 3-4 months.  Nonetheless, Wells Fargo is insisting that my buyer initial the clause below.  Wells Fargo will not even consider the offer, which is very close to the list price, unless this clause is initialed. 

So if my client wants the property, which he does, the bank is forcing him to acknowledge, in writing, that a "bona fide tenant with a bona fide lease" is occupying the property.  How ludicrous is that?
We've been assured by the real estate agent representing the bank that this clause has not caused problems in any of the hundreds of transactions in which it has been a part of the contract, but it has given my client and I pause, and he even considered withdrawing the offer (which could cause the bank to hold onto the property for an even longer time frame, losing more money - in carrying costs - in the process. 
Another reason why our banking system is in the state it is in ...

Home-Selling Advice

If you are thinking about selling your here are three faux-pas to avoid.
1. Hanging out when buyers are viewing your home: Buyers stalk properties online and off, checking obsessively for price reductions and the like. But buyer-side home stalking is unobtrusive to sellers. On the other hand, buyers can feel personally stalked and stifled in their ability to fully explore or verbally process their impressions of a home when you, seller, hang out inside your home while it’s being shown.

As soon as a buyer sees you in the house, it instantly becomes much more difficult for them to”
(a) envision themselves living there (it’s your house, after all),
(b) be comfortable opening up drawers, closet doors, etc., and
(c) express their thoughts about how this house might be exactly what they’re looking for, if they can knock out that wall and get rid of those cukoo murals you so lovingly painted in your children’s rooms.

Sellers: If you want to sell your home, it’s best to not be around when buyers are looking. Give them some breathing space and a chance to truly walk around and consider what they like and/or dislike about your home without lurking and looming (and, let’s be real - eavesdropping) nearby.

2. Showing a messy house: Life gets hectic, and it’s easy for things like laundry, dishes and other house cleaning tasks to fall by the wayside. It’s also difficult to keep the home in which you and your 4 kids, 3 gerbils and 2 Labrador Retrievers live perfectly spotless for months at a time, while you’re waiting for an offer. But when you decide that you’re going to sell your home, it’s imperative that you make a pact and a plan with yourself and your family that the place will be in tip-top shape when buyers come knocking.

Remember: your home is competing with dozens of others, as well as with buyer’s HGTV-infused visions of what their next home should look like, so first impressions really count.

Sellers: Stuffing the closet is not the answer. (Buyers will be opening that closet door, after all.) Pack up your personals like you were moving (best case: you are), and put all but the essentials in storage, if needed. Get the carpets cleaned, do the dishes, make the beds, mow the lawn, dust, sweep and mop. Ask your agent to give you a gut check on whether your idea of clean is clean enough (better yet - ask them for the number of a house cleaner who you can engage to get the job done to showable standards).

This might all seem obvious, but agents and buyers alike are constantly amazed at the condition of some of the homes they walk into. Take my word for it; I’ll spare you the ‘ewww’-inducing stories.

3. Overpricing your home: Buyers already have lots to do before making the largest purchase of their lives. They have to wrangle their finances into order, jump hoops to qualify for a loan, collect the cash for down payment and closing costs, and invest sometimes hundreds of hours into market research and house hunting. With all of this already on their plates, the prospect of trying to negotiate down a crazily high asking price is just too much work (and too outside their comfort zones) for most buyers to deal with. The average buyer won’t even bother looking at your home if the asking price is clearly high and off base compared with other similar, nearby homes for sale; they’d rather sit tight and wait .

Sellers: Price to sell from the beginning. Work with your agent to determine a price that is supported by the data on how much nearby homes have recently sold for. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and anguish and get a lot more legitimate bites from serious, qualified buyers.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

PVC Farm highlights DHA Meeting, Update from Nancy Jester

Discussion on the future of the 16-acre PVC Farm was one of the main topic at Sunday night's Dunwoody Homeowners Association meeting.
If you believe a "leak" from a special called executive session of the Dunwoody City Council on February 3, the city is in discussions with developer John Wieland concerning the sale of the property.  While the "leaker" needs to be dealt with accordingly (fired immediately), the question being asked is why is the city holding an executive session on this matter?  The parcel of land being discussed is owned by the city (the citizens of Dunwoody), and thus the public should be made fully aware of council's intentions (remember, when this land was originally purchased, we were told, directly, that it would become a park on more than one occasion by more than one person.
And why is the city in discussions only with Wieland?  Not that there is anything wrong with Wieland, a quality builder, but if the land is to be sold to a developer, shouldn't it be put up for bid?  Highest and Best?  Regardless of who it is sold to, the city controls the zoning on the property, so we really don't have to be concerned with a project that doesn't fit the master plan (or high density).  And hopefully, the city will reserve four or five acres as a park.

The DHA also heard a presentation for Wellstreet Urgent Care, which plans a $1.3 million dollar renovation of the old Blockbuster next to the BP at the intersection of Mt. Vernon and Chamblee Dunwoody.  While Wellstreet has a wonderful-looking rendering of its building, it wants a variance for its proposed signage, asking for more than double the allowable size.
By unanimous vote, the DHA supports the current codes for the Dunwoody Village Overlay District, and city signage.  My guess is the city will follow suit, and Wellstreet will be denied its variance, at least as presented to the DHA.  By the way, Wellstreet is planning a facility that will service 70-80 patients per day, seven days a week.  Good luck to Wellstreet, but I'm a big supporter of Dunwoody Urgent Care.  My experiences with DUC and Dr. Casey Locarnini has been nothing short of exceptional!

Update from Nancy Jester

The following was sent by our DeKalb County school board member Nancy Jester via email on Sunday evening.

As you probably know, the DeKalb House delegation met last week to consider the reapportionment and, pursuant to SB79, reduction of the DeKalb County Board of Education. I was in attendance at their meeting and you can view the video posted on John Heneghan's blog by clicking here. It's an interesting and enlightening view of the Body Politic that is the legislative delegation from DeKalb.

The subcommittee of the delegation presented a 5-member map as their sole recommendation but could not garner enough signatures for approval.

I must note that it was inaccurate for any of the Representatives to state that they had not received maps from board members. Just as with the county commissioners, individual board members presented maps to the subcommittee and Representatives within the delegation. I was in attendance at a public meeting where Mr. Womack (BOE rep., district 4) and Mr. McChesney (BOE rep., district 2) presented maps to the subcommittee. Furthermore, I have presented a map that was endorsed by three BOE representatives.

As I stated last year during the discussion surrounding SB79, I was concerned about the mechanics of shrinking the BOE. I asked repeatedly for guidance on how this was to be accomplished. I saw conflicting legal requirements that would make it difficult to accomplish the goals of those advancing this idea. Furthermore, I disagreed (based on important statistical distinctions) with the thesis that a smaller board will somehow be a "better" board in DeKalb. But, in the political realm, this was a "win" for legislators despite the complexity. As predicted, we are now faced with the difficulties and unintended consequences of last year's legislative actions.

Please note that I still believe that the map that is placed on my website (click here to view it) is best map for DeKalb. I have worked on an alternative map that combines some of the attributes of a map presented by Reps. Oliver and Benfield (OB map) with my original map. Click here to go to my blog to view this updated map.

Here are just a few of the reasons I believe that my alternative map (TJ map) is an improvement to the OB map:

  • The TJ map is the most likely to pass judicial scrutiny and compliance testing based on the traditional redistricting principles of "compactness" and "dispersion". The districts in our map are more compact than those of the OB map and represent a low dispersion quality. They will have more favorable compliance numbers on both the Plosby-Popper scale and Reock/convex hull measurements.
  • High School attendance lines (the main design feature of the OB map) change and schools close. The DCSS planning department has stated that redistricting for school zones will occur more frequently than in the past. If we are building districts on the current attendance areas, they will soon be incongruent with each other.
  • It complies with SB79.
  • It keeps communities of interest united.
Please email your legislators once again and ask them to support the TJ map.

Late breaking news: Sen. Millar has developed a bill to delay the implementation of SB79 so that the complex issues surrounding it can be worked out. Stayed tuned...

As always, I am available if you have any questions or concerns.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

DHA Meeting, Update from Nancy Jester

The Dunwoody Homeowners Association's February meeting is 7:30 pm this Sunday night at the Cultural Arts Center (Room 4) next to the library.  Among the items on the agenda, a presentation of Wellstreet Urgent Care slated to replace the old Blockbuster behind the BP Station, and a presentation by Marlow's Tavern, which will occupy a portion of Calico Corners on Dunwoody Village Parkway. 


Announcements and introduction of distinguished visitors

1. Approval of Minutes – for December 2011 and January 2012
2. New additions to DHA board

3 Wellstreet Urgent Care Presentation and Variance request
(going into old Dunwoody Village Blockbusters location)

4. Marlow’s Tavern Presentation
(going into part of Calico Corners building on DV Parkway)

5. Board only session
Votes as needed on any motions

DeKalb School Board Reapportionment Update
(from Nancy Jester)

(Thursday) the DeKalb Delegation will meet to discuss the redistricting of the DeKalb Board of Education.

As you may have read, the sub-committee of the delegation approved a 5 member board district that would eliminate the 4 members up for election this year. I do not support this approach. You can read about it on the new website for DeKalb School Watch - DeKalb School Watch Two. Click here to view their latest post on this subject. Thank you DeKalb School Watch for your continued dedication to the children and taxpayers of DeKalb!

A new map has been proposed that unites and keeps intact, communities of interest. It's the best map I've seen to date. I, along with Don McChesney and Pam Speaks endorse this map as the one we believe the delegation should approve. I've posted a new blog entry on my website (click here to view it) with this map and it's statistics. This is the only map that I have seen that keeps the district population deviations within the acceptable limits (<1%).

If you agree with Don, Pam and me, please email the DeKalb Delegation (their emails are listed below) and tell them to support this map.

If you have time and want to be present at the DeKalb Delegation meeting, please join the meeting tomorrow, Thursday, February 9th at Noon; 605 Coverdell Building (across from the Capitol). Please note that the meeting may be delayed depending on the time that the Session ends.

Parking for the meeting: You can park for $5 in the deck on Jesse Hill.
As always, I am available if you have any questions or concerns.

DeKalb Delegation Email List:

mailto:pat.gardner@house.ga.gov,%20simone.bell@house.ga.gov, gloria.tinubu@house.ga.gov, tom.taylor@house.ga.gov, mike.jacobs@house.ga.gov, elena@elenaparent.com, scott@repscottholcomb.com, marymargaret.oliver@house.ga.gov, stacey.abrams@house.ga.gov, stephanie.benfield@house.ga.gov, karla.drenner@house.ga.gov, michele.henson@house.ga.gov, billy.mitchell@house.ga.gov, earnest.williams@house.ga.gov, howard.mosby@house.ga.gov, Rahn.mayo@house.ga.gov, pam.stephenson@house.ga.gov, dee.dawkins-haigler@house.ga.gov, randal.mangham@house.ga.gov, curt.thompson@senate.ga.gov, emanuel.jones@senate.ga.gov, fran.millar@senate.ga.gov, steve.henson@senate.ga.gov, jason.carter@senate.ga.gov, ronald.ramsey@senate.ga.gov, gloria.butler@senate.ga.gov

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Spot-On Super Bowl Prediction; Joe Namath

The Giants beat the Patriots 21-17 to win the Super Bowl.
If only I had more conviction ...
If you read my blog Sunday morning (posted Saturday night), I picked the Giants to beat the Patriots 21-17.  Too bad I don't have a bookie (of course I also picked LSU to beat Alabama)!
Congratulations to Eli Manning and the Giants, who out-played Tom Brady and the favored Patriots.  That's two Super Bowl victories for Eli, to one for his more heralded older brother Peyton, if any one's keeping score.

Click on photo to watch trailer.

Speaking of quarterbacks,  if you subscribe to HBO, it is well worth the time to watch the 87-minute documentary on Joe Namath, who celebrated the 50th anniversary of his high school championship in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania in 2011.  There may never be another Joe Willie Namath.  The former Alabama and New York Jets star quarterback was both brash and humble; forceful yet fragile.  His reached the highest highs and lowest lows.  He was Broadway Joe, but at the same time, the same grounded kid who never forgot his humble upbringing in western PA. You don't have to be a football fan to enjoy HBO's Namath.   

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Real Estate & the Super Bowl

Despite what you read in national publications and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the real estate market in the metro area, specifically in Dunwoody, is showing signs of improvement.  While we have yet to see prices start to climb, sales volume is trending up (see chart above).
In the last 15 days, 14 new listings have hit the market in Dunwoody in the 30338 and 30360 zip codes.  To view any of the listings, click on the link below.

Super Bowl Prediction

Prior to getting into real estate, I worked fulltime in the sports media for over 20 years covering the NFL, among other leagues and sports.  I'd like to think I'm pretty good at predicting the outcome of games.  However, my record on this blog is not very impressive (as Bob L. would tell you in a heartbeat).
With that said, here's my prediction for the Super Bowl.  I like the Giants to beat the Patriots, 21-17 (sorry my New England friends, this is nothing personal).  New York is on a roll having won five straight games, and Eli Manning is the hotter quarterback.  In three playoff games, Manning is averaging over 300-yards passing a game, throwing 8 touchdown passes and only one interception. 
Of course, it all comes to do turnovers, but all things being equal, I like the Giants (especially getting 3-1/2 points)!