Archive for June, 2010

Metro Atlanta foreclosures rise 15 percent in June

Foreclosure notices in metro Atlanta increased 15 percent in June compared to May, but there are two silver linings in the numbers released today.

The 11,016 notices in June — still very high — represent a 12 percent decline from March, which was the last time the calendar provided an extra week to prepare foreclosure ads for publication, Equity Depot data reveals.

Also, the notices in June were down 7.6 percent from a year ago, according to Alpharetta-based Equity Depot.

It “certainly appears we’ve hit a plateau,” Barry Bramlett, president of Equity Depot, said in an e-mail to the AJC. But the “question remains how long at this [high] level.”

A total of 61,164 notices were published during the first 6 months of 2010 — up 1.4 percent from the last six months of 2009, which was a record year.

The foreclosure notices published this month in the 13-county metro area are for auctions on the courthouse steps set for next month.

Gwinnett led the metro area in June with 2,301 …

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Housing relief: What else needs to be done? By who?

Record foreclosures. Bankruptcies. Auctions. Liens. Short sales.

The housing crisis just won’t go away — and the human cost keeps mounting.

Hours before daybreak Friday, more than 1,000 distressed homeowners began lining up outside the Georgia World Congress Center in hopes of getting their mortgages reduced with help from America’s Save the Dream Tour, AJC staffers Rhonda Cook and John Spink report.

Nearly 15,300 registered for the five-day event. Counselors will be available continuously until the Atlanta event ends.

Maria Garcia drove with a friend from Charlotte, hoping for some relief, Cook and Spink report. Her husband is unemployed so the $1,200-a-month payment is difficult to make. She’s hoping for a reduction to $750 or $800.

Despite talk of a stabilizing housing market, it looks like many homeowners are in the same boat.

What’s been accomplished in nearly three years of this mortgage mess?

What else should be done? By the lenders? By the government? By other …

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Power Breakfast: Peanuts may get thrown off airplanes, World Cup, Cobb teachers, Delta, Grady, BP

Maybe Jimmy Carter can help.

Peanuts, as familiar to air travelers as tray tables, could be grounded by the federal government — and Georgia’s peanut industry is fighting the idea, AJC reporters Kelly Yamanouchi and Bob Keefe write.

A recent proposal from the U.S. Department of Transportation for a variety of rules affecting air travel includes plans to consider new restrictions on peanut snacks — or even an outright ban — to accommodate fliers with allergies.

The peanut industry and its backers see the potential loss of up to $20 million in annual airline sales if goobers are grounded, Yamanouchi and Keefe write.

Georgia grows nearly half of the nation’s peanuts.

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Like the latest plan for Jekyll?

There have been many bumps in the road and much controversy over how to redevelop Jekyll Island.

The latest plan — a scaled back version unveiled Wednesday — calls for a $75 million mix of hotels, shops and restaurants in the heart of the state park visited by many Atlantans, AJC reporter Dan Chapman writes.

After numerous proposals the last four years, a failed deal with an Atlanta developer and the crippling recession, Jekyll officials were elated to announce that construction on the scaled-back plan should begin in October, Chapman writes. All projects should be finished by mid-2012.

Critics, though, questioned if the plans adhere to the coastal park’s mandate of affordability for all Georgians, Chapman reports. Average room rates at one of the two new hotels, for example, would run $130 a night. Average rates at the nicer hotel: $170.

What do you think? Has a happy medium been reached in terms of the project’s scale? Is it still too much? How about the …

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Power Breakfast: Atlanta housing improves, Delta mix-up, Jekyll, teen jobs, GM Doraville, Chateau Elan, BP

The worst is over.

Metro Atlanta’s housing market is improving, according to two local real estate data experts, AJC reporter Michelle Shaw writes.

The number of first-time buyers has risen over the past several months, boosting the figure back to historical levels for the market, said Steve Palm, president of SmartNumbers, and John Hunt, his counterpart at ViaSearch.

They spoke Wednesday at the semiannual Atlanta Housing Market Summit, hosted by the two firms.

Hunt said the Atlanta market was fueled by first-time buyers during the boom years, Shaw reports. Their numbers dropped sharply when the economy dived and housing tanked. A resurgence of the trend means the market is stabilizing, Hunt said.

The bad news is, Hunt and others agreed: We’re not out of the woods.

“We’re going to see some more challenges and more failures,” said Dan Forsman, chief executive of Prudential Georgia Realty, an event sponsor. “We don’t see a magical recovery ahead but we …

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Atlanta housing improves, Delta mix-up, Jekyll, teen jobs, GM Doraville, Chateau Elan, BP »

Noticing start of a retail turnaround? Where?

It wasn’t long ago when the exurbs was the place to be if you wanted a relatively large and inexpensive house or you were opening a new shop.

But this recession seems to have changed that in the metro area.

AJC reporter Rachel Tobin Ramos writes that new leases in intown areas reflect a changed retail environment. Gone, she says, is the exurban expansion of stores of every kind, as retail developments chased rooftops farther from Atlanta’s central core.

When the housing market crashed, outlying retail centers failed to attract tenants, leaving gaping vacancies, Ramos writes.

But it’s a different picture at malls and retail centers in more established areas, Ramos writes, citing examples in Midtown and Buckhead.

If you live intown or in the nearby suburbs, have you seen more store openings lately and fewer closings or vacancies? Are you starting to see the beginnings of a retail turnaround?

And if you live in the exurbs, what are you seeing now? Continued closings or is …

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Get sick on airplanes?

Auburn University researchers will study the risk of contracting a communicable disease during airline travel, with the help of a $300,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, AJC reporter Kelly Yamanouchi writes.

Past outbreaks of SARS and H1N1 have generated concern about the spread of diseases during air travel, Yamanouchi reports.

Some travelers believe they catch colds when they fly. Are you one of them?

Do you think twice before you schedule a flight because of health concerns?

Do you take any precautions before you fly?

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

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Power Breakfast: City of Atlanta layoffs, GM Doraville, GM recall, airport, Synovus, election, jobs

The money pinch on local governments and school districts keeps hitting employees.

Dozens of Atlanta city workers, including Department of Corrections and airport employees, were notified on Tuesday they would be terminated at the end of this fiscal year, AJC reporter Ernie Suggs writes.

The move came as the city moved closer to finalizing a $558 million budget for 2011, Suggs reports.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim recently warned members of the City Council’s finance executive committee that layoffs were coming. Reed said in April that 67 airports workers would lose their jobs and another 62 vacant positions would be abolished. He also noted that other city agencies would be hit as well, but did not say what positions and how many.

Throughout the day Tuesday, city workers filed through city hall to pick up their separation packages, Suggs reports.

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Former new-car dealer starts over at 74

It wasn’t how he planned things, but Buddy Ouzts is starting over at 74.

The Chevy dealership in Winder that he or his father owned since 1939 ceased selling new cars last year as GM’s financial troubles mounted.

Buddy Ouzts

Buddy Ouzts

But instead of packing it in, Ouzts recently launched a Meineke franchise in the same location — part of special program for former new-car dealers.

“I had to find a way to continue in business and Meineke gave me a direction to go in,” said Ouzts (pronounced “oots”).

Why not just retire?

During the tough times before he stopped selling new Chevys, Ouzts borrowed on the property to keep the business afloat. So he has financial obligations from that deal and, unlike GM, could not bring himself to file for bankruptcy.

“I’m not built” that way, said Ouzts, who served as the town’s mayor for 17 years.

He is intent on keeping as many employees working as he can. And retirement does not suit his driven personality.

“I just can’t stop. I …

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Power Breakfast: GM Doraville project fizzles, employers hiring, Delta, MARTA, Home Depot, BP, financial overhaul

There’s more troubling news on the development front — it doesn’t look like the site of the former GM Doraville plant is going to be redeveloped anytime soon.

A behind-the-scenes deal that called for taxpayers to pony up $36 million to jump-start a Florida developer’s plan to remake the site appears dead before it even became public, AJC reporters April Hunt and Megan Matteucci write.

The president of New Broad Street Properties called Doraville leaders Monday to cancel a presentation that would have provided more details about the project’s financing, said Luke Howe, assistant to Doraville mayor Ray Jenkins.

The reason: GM said the firm had missed a June 1 deadline to close on the project, Hunt and Matteucci write.

“New Broad Street said they’ll continue to talk to GM and lobby to come back to the table, but right now it’s done,” Howe said.

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