Tens of millions of dollars have changed hands since June in deals involving hotels, vacant land and office buildings. One property owner in the area said he received two unsolicited purchase offers in the past six weeks, after receiving nothing of that sort for the past year.
The rash of purchases raises questions about who knew what and when, suggesting buyers of nearby land were either incredibly lucky or incredibly connected.
“Probably more of the latter,” said Cobb Taxpayers Association Chairman Lance Lamberton, who wants the state Attorney General’s office to investigate whether anyone could be profiting improperly. “It just seems too coincidental to me. This whole thing really stinks.”
Buyers who responded to interview requests denied having advance knowledge of the Braves’ plans.
Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee has said he began talking to Atlanta Braves executives in July and that he and Brooks Mathis, a vice president of economic development for Cobb’s Chamber of Commerce, were the only two county officials privy to the secret negotiations. The county finance manager, James Pehrson, has since told the AJC that he was also in on the talks.
The property was put on the market in August, according to a broker’s listing. The Braves’ failed negotiations with Atlanta started a year and a half ago.
If an investor did get wind of the Braves’ move and snatched up properties in anticipation of higher values, that would not be illegal or even unethical. But most of the purchasers are limited liability companies whose partners and backers are not public record, and Lamberton said he wants to know if any public officials might have a stake.