The city of Gainesville may lose millions of dollars it was expecting to generate from the downtown jail it bought last year after Corrections Corp. of America announced Monday it was pulling out.
CCA spokesman Steven Owen said the company had decided to close the facility before the end of the year because of a continuous decline in population at the facility, which houses mostly immigration detainees.
Gainesville financed the purchase of the North Georgia Detention Center from Hall County for $7.2 million in October 2012. The city projected to get $825,000 in rent from the company for the 2014 fiscal year. The bond has a 2.5 percent interest rate.
Owen, CCA senior director of public affairs, said the center employed about 125 people who the company will help find other positions.
“We will be offering all of them the opportunity to transfer to other CCA facilities,” he said. “For employees unable to transfer, our team will coordinate opportunities to help them find jobs in the local area.”
City Manager Kip Padgett said the jail firm told the city of the closing Monday morning. He didn’t respond to questions about the lease. The Times has requested the contract through the Open Records Act.
“We will be exploring all options for future use of the facility,” he said in an emailed response.
Owen said the company gave the city a 90-day notice of its plans to end the lease agreement.
Gainesville had been looking to control the future of the property, located in the heart of midtown redevelopment plans.
A CCA representative, Tommy Alsup, told the Gainesville City Council at the time that 189 people were being housed there. The facility has 502 beds. Alsup said CCA thrives on its facilities being at capacity.
“It is our understanding that (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) will soon begin transitioning the detainees out of this location to other detention facilities,” Owen said.
Vincent Picard, Eastern Seaboard spokesman for ICE, declined to provide the current number of detainees, saying “they are in flux.” ICE employees working at the detention center will move to other offices.
“Corrections Corp. of America has decided to withdraw from the intergovernmental service agreement to house ICE detainees at the North Georgia Detention Center in Gainesville,” Picard said in an statement. “In accordance with that decision, ICE will relocate remaining detainees currently housed at the facility to other detention centers within Georgia prior to the end of 2013.”