PDA takes on additional MacGregor debt

ALBANY -- In a unanimous vote Thursday, the Payroll Development Authority agreed to pay roughly $2,000 a month in debt owed to the city for a HUD bond obtained by the former MacGregor Golf company's Albany headquarters.

The decision will add another debt responsibility of MacGregor onto the PDA's shoulders, but will keep the building in the PDA's hands until the facility can be sold, PDA Chairman Jeff Sinyard said.

The debt left by MacGregor's last owners totals roughly $1.4 million and is divided between two different bonds, said Sinyard, who also chairs the Dougherty County Commission.

The PDA has been making payments on the first bond since July -- a month after MacGregor closed its doors "like thieves in the night," Sinyard said.

The second bond was a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development bond issued through the city's Department of Community Development. That payment, roughly $2,200 per month, hadn't been paid by MacGregor officials since November 2008.

Sinyard said Thursday that the city has agreed to essentially eat the outstanding debt on that loan between November 2008 and July 2009, if the PDA would get the account current from that point on.

"It would take us about $16,000 to get current up until the end of the year and we would pay that to the city," Sinyard said.

In June, MacGregor left with 18 months left on its lease and roughly $1.4 million in debt. The PDA and the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission have since been working to make the property -- valued at $2.4 million -- marketable again.

The property has been cleaned inside and out, including landscaping, and EDC President Ted Clem said that the commission is eager to start trying to put a new company into the facility.

"There's about 45,000 square feet of prime space available and we're anxious to get people to look at the space," Clem said. "It's even got its own driving range," he quipped, speaking of the test range the former golf club manufacturer had on site.

Sinyard said he hopes that the nature of the facility -- its square footage, acreage and location near Southwest Georgia Regional Airport -- would encourage a business to move in sooner rather than later.

"The idea is to get a business, and more importantly jobs, into that building and then we will use that money to repay the money we've put in," he said.