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Gray TV, Gipson Agree To Buy Assembly

Atlanta-based media company Gray Television, in partnership with an Atlanta developer, is expected to go under contract imminently to buy Doraville's Assembly mixed-use property from Integral Group for an undisclosed sum, industry sources tell Bisnow.

Rendering of Integral Group's Assembly development on the site of the former General Motors plant in Doraville

The Doraville Downtown Development Authority is scheduled to vote on the transfer of ownership Monday, according to the agenda posted Sunday afternoon. The buyer — under the LLC Peal Railroad Assembly Yard — was registered to Ellenann B. Yelverton, who is senior vice president and deputy general counsel at Gray Television, according to the Georgia Secretary of State's records.

The Gipson Co. will spearhead development of the untapped 125 acres of Assembly to include studio, film and television production facility space for Gray TV as well as mixed-use development on the site of the former General Motors plant overlooking Interstate 285, sources said.

Gipson's Jay Gipson, who is developing the Darlington Medical Center in Buckhead across from Piedmont Atlanta Hospital, declined to comment. Integral CEO and executive committee Chairman Egbert Perry declined to give details on the potential transaction.

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment on any transaction absent an agreement in-hand, but over the years, Integral has been approached by several suitors interested in purchasing substantial portions or all of Assembly,” Perry wrote in an email to Bisnow. “We have, in fact, sold off portions of the site for development, including Asbury Automotive, Serta Simmons Bedding, and Third Rail Studios. As the owner and Master Developer of the site, it always makes sense for us to consider all offers that meet our shared development vision for the site and our financial goals.”

Integral purchased the site of the former General Motors plant at the nexus of Interstate 285 and Georgia State Route 141 in 2014 and planned to transform the 165 acres into a $2B mixed-use campus connected to the Doraville MARTA Station.

Integral built out the streets, utilities and green spaces for the project over the past few years. Beyond the automotive dealership, the bedding headquarters and the movie studio in place at the site, Miami-based AHS Residential received approval from the city of Doraville in January to develop a $150M, 840-unit multifamily project at Assembly. 

The Integral Group CEO Egbert Perry in 2017

The project has faced setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic. Paces Properties scrapped a planned Alamo Drafthouse on the site last year. The cinema chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this month.

Integral had received an extension in August on a $40M loan it owed to The Ardent Cos. The developer refinanced that debt with a new $43M loan from BridgeInvest in December.

Gipson's family has been involved in commercial real estate development for half a century, mainly focused on big-box retail in the Southeast. After 2008 and the ensuing financial crisis, Gipson began to focus on urban mixed-use and medical office projects, including developing Brookhaven Medical Center in 2016 and selling it to Caddis two years later for more than $27M.

It was unknown as of press time if Gray TV plans to move its headquarters to the new development from Brookhaven. Messages for Gray TV Chairman and CEO Hilton Howell were not returned as of press time.

Gray TV has been in growth mode during the past few years. In 2019, Gray TV purchased local television broadcaster Raycom Media for $3.6B. And then in February, Gray purchased Quincy Media for $925M in cash. The company owns ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates in markets like Charlotte, North Carolina, and Cleveland-Akron, Ohio.

Once the Quincy deal is complete, Gray will operate or own local television stations in 102 markets, reaching more than 25% of all U.S. TV households. Gray also owns various production, marketing and digital business companies, including Raycom Sports and RTM Studios, which produces PowerNation automotive programs.

Gray TV's net income in 2020 was $358M on revenues of more than $2.3B, according to its December annual report.

This is a developing story.