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Avalon Developers Suing Alpharetta Over 'Erroneous And Illegal' Tax Bill

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North American Properties is in a tiff with the City of Alpharetta over what it says is a faulty property appraisal for its Avalon project.

North American Properties
Avalon's retail corridor at the mixed-use project in Alpharetta

NAP sued the City of Alpharetta for receiving a tax bill based on an “erroneous assessment” of more than $338M for its Avalon mixed-use project in 2015, according to a lawsuit filed in Fulton County Superior Court earlier this month. According to the lawsuit, Fulton mistakenly revised Avalon's property valuation to $338,344,500 in 2015 without giving notice of the reassessment. The county instead reverted the valuation—and the base amount by which property taxes are levied—to a valuation of more than $8M. Fulton subsequently reimbursed NAP for overpayment, according to lawsuit documents.

But Alpharetta—which used the Fulton pre-corrected assessment—also billed NAP (through the Fulton County Development Authority, to which NAP leases Avalon's property while using bond financing), but did not correct or repay the developer for the inflated tax bill amount, it was stated in documents.

“Because of the illegal assessment, Alpharetta over-billed the parcel for tax year 2015. The over-billing resulted in Alpharetta's erroneous and illegal tax bill of $389,096.18. Taxpayer has not been paid its refund despite repeated requests and the City of Alpharetta's online records reflecting a 'Refund' of $370,345.89 on February 18, 2016,” NAP lawyers state in the suit. No response from the city has been filed as of press time, and a city spokesman declined to comment.

Fulton County Tax Assessor's Ed da Silva said that the county had to wait until Avalon's retail and apartment portion was fully occupied before it could raise the property values from $8M—which was its value as raw land—to more than $330M.

As of 2016, according to da Silva and county records, the property is now assessed at the $338M value, which should impact NAP's 2016 tax bill. NAP's Mark Toro declined to comment on the suit.

North American Properties Avalon

The dispute with the City of Alpharetta comes at a time when NAP is developing Hotel at Avalon and Alpharetta Conference Center, a $112M, 330-room Marriott International Autograph Collection flagged property that will include a 65k SF conference center. The project is part of a JV between NAP, Stormont Hospitality Group, Long Wharf Real Estate Partners and the City of Alpharetta. We'll keep you posted as more develops with this story.