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Stockbridge Florist & Gifts sold to city

Business was focus of bitter legal battle

Photo by Jason A. Smith
The City of Stockbridge recently purchased the Stockbridge Florist & Gifts shop, on North Henry Boulevard. Local officials are evaluating how the property, which sits next to the Stockbridge City Hall, can be used in the future.

Photo by Jason A. Smith The City of Stockbridge recently purchased the Stockbridge Florist & Gifts shop, on North Henry Boulevard. Local officials are evaluating how the property, which sits next to the Stockbridge City Hall, can be used in the future.

A lengthy, legal battle over property rights –– that made national headlines –– has reached an amicable conclusion, for a local flower shop owner and the City of Stockbridge.

The city recently bought the Stockbridge Florist & Gifts building, at 4632 North Henry Blvd. The final purchase is expected to be in excess of $400,000, according to city officials, who said they cannot reveal the exact sale price for several more days.

The flower shop’s location, in recent years, had resulted in difficulties for city officials, as well as the shop’s co-owners, Mark and Regina Meeks. The facility is next to the municipality’s City Hall, at 4640 N. Henry Blvd.

The Meekses owned the shop for 28 years prior to the sale, which was approved by city officials, Dec. 29. Mark Meeks said he is “happy and satisfied” with the outcome of his struggles over the property.

“We’re glad that we and the city got everything worked out,” he said. “We’re looking forward to a brighter future for our family, and for Stockbridge,” said Meeks.

He declined to comment further on the terms of the sale. Stockbridge City Administrator Ray Gibson said the city has “no immediate plans” for how it will use the property. He said a Livable Centers Initiative study is in the works, with the Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh architectural planning firm, and will serve as a guide for how to develop the area in the future.

“I do believe the building will be demolished at some point,” said Gibson. “In order for the downtown area to develop in the future and serve as a live-work-play community, it was critical that we moved forward with the purchase of the flower shop.”

Meeks, in recent years, had waged a protracted and bitter battle with city officials over the property, centering on eminent domain and an individual’s property rights.

The City of Stockbridge had sought Meeks’ flower shop as part of the property surrounding its City Hall, in a struggle which took four years to resolve. City Hall was built, and Meeks was allowed to keep his business, in 2009.

Stockbridge Councilman Mark Alarcon said he is pleased with sale of the nearly 100-year-old building, as well as the efforts the Meekses and city councilmembers, to resolve the flower-shop issue.

Alarcon said he is confident the sale will play a key role in the city’s downtown development prospects in the coming years.

“This is the right thing to do for the community, because it’s not just an issue of dollars and cents,” said Alarcon. “It’s a nationally recognized situation that needed to be addressed.

“It certainly was an extremely difficult process to gain a collaborative, unanimous vote for the purchase of this property,” he said. “For the betterment and future of this city, it was of great importance. My hope is that it sends a strong message that the City of Stockbridge is wanting to move forward, in making it the beacon of light that it can be.”

Alarcon added that the three individuals, who are due to be sworn in as city councilmembers next week — Robin Buschman, Richard Steinberg and Alphonso Thomas — were not involved in the purchase of the flower shop.