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Developer mum on Walmart; city votes to rezone land

Walmart developer Chris Harper wouldn’t say much to the Herald-Gazette about the proposed Walmart Supercenter here but the City of Barnesville will embark on rezoning the property involved at a 5:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday. The city council is expected to vote on beginning the process of rezoning approximately 67 acres on Roberta Drive from agricultural to C4 (highway commercial) status. Legal advertising and a public hearing would follow the vote if it passes. Meanwhile, Harper was mum in an interview with Herald-Gazette reporter Kay Pedrotti: UPDATE: The council voted unanimously to proceed with rezoning. Mayor Peter Banks said a public hearing will be held to take input from citizens. Nothing can yet be said publicly about the possible location of a Walmart store in Barnesville, according to one of the developers allegedly negotiating with the city of Barnesville for property on Roberta Drive across from the Lamar County sheriff’s office and jail, The tract is owned by the city but if sold the proceeds would have to be split with Lamar County according to an old agreement. Mayor Peter Banks and the city council are not talking either. Chris Harper, a partner with Harper Southeastern Properties Inc. of Marietta, refused comment to The Herald Gazette. ’We are scouting sites and don’t have any comments,’ Harper said. He did say it might be another week before Walmart public relations people might have something to say. ’I’m a real estate broker. That’s all I know,’ Harper said. HSEP was founded in 1989 by brothers Chris and William ‘Skip’ Harper. The company’s website states, ‘Over the last 25 years, Harper Southeastern Properties has brokered approximately 300 transactions totaling over $500 million in sales. They have represented a wide range of clients, from dirt poor landowners to the most sophisticated investors, commercial and real estate developers, national builders, national and local banks, and many large regional retailers. ’HSEP represented Walmart in its north Georgia ‘supercenter’ expansion, closing on over 50 Walmarts.’ The site also quotes under Chris’s profile, ‘Chris has closed over $300 million in land transactions with numerous developers and retailers including Publix, Kroger, Home Depot, CVS, Walgreens and McDonalds. In 2001, Chris cofounded Westmoreland Harper Development Services which exclusively represented Walmart in their North Georgia super center expansion. Chris and his partner, Van Westmoreland, have closed over 50 super centers totaling over 10,000,000 square feet.

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