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Gainesville finalizes deal for old Hall jail
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The sale of the Hall County Jail to the city of Gainesville became official on Friday, when the city closed on the property.

Tuesday evening, the City Council approved transferring the lease to Corrections Corp. of America.

“We’re very excited about (wrapping up the process),” said Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan.

“Basically we want to see the jail eventually go away from downtown Gainesville and we do know now that it’s in our hands that one day it will go away.”

Last month, the council issued a bond that allowed it to purchase the property, at 622 Main St., for $7.2 million. The bond will be repaid with a 2.5 percent interest rate.

That debt is expected to be repaid through a 14-year lease agreement with CCA, a private jail firm that houses detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“The lease payments that CCA will pay the city of Gainesville will more than cover the expense,” said Dunagan.

The only way CCA can get out of the agreement, Dunagan said, is if ICE decides to not use the property anymore.

“If they stay the 14 years, we’ll make money out of the deal,” he said, adding that after seven years, the city would break even.

After the 14 years, the lease is not expected to be renewed with CCA and the city will take control — ideally debt-free — of the property’s future.

Dunagan said he hopes it will become part of the redevelopment of the midtown area.

“We hope a developer will come in there,” he said.

“Who knows what’s going to happen in 14 years. We hope way before then we’ll have our office building, our hotel across the street, which should spur some other development.”

Hall County agreed to sell the jail property to Gainesville in June after months of negotiating with the city and CCA.

Under the new deal, CCA, which previously leased from the county, will continue to lease the facility from the city, operating it as the North Georgia Detention Center.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office administration, also located in the building, will remain there until 2017.