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Kim Basinger buys town for $20 million

BRASELTON, Ga. -- Actress Kim Basinger paid $20 million for this one-stoplight town that has been run and owned by the Braselton family for more than a century, a city councilman and member of the family said Tuesday.

Councilman H.B. 'Kit' Braselton said contracts were signed Monday night giving Basinger ownership of Braselton's supermarket, bank, stores, 600-acre industrial park and 1,200 acres of additional real estate.

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'Her proposal sounds beautiful and wonderful for the community and the people living here,' Braselton said. 'She proposes to revitalize the town.'

Braselton said the actress, a native of nearby Athens, wants to make a movie about the northeast Georgia town's history and establish a visitor's center.

The family-owned town's 24 board of directors voted to sell the small Jackson County community to Basinger for $20 million after 18 months of negotiations.

Basinger, who has starred in '9 Weeks,' 'The Natural' and 'My Stepmother is an Alien,' did not attend Monday's closing, but sent a letter stating her intentions, Braselton said.

Basinger's publicist, Annett Wolf, confirmed the purchase, but said she had to confer with attorneys before discussing terms of the deal.

The deal was negotiated by Charles Morris, who owns a real estate business in Braselton, and Basinger's brother-in-law, Gary Guyer, a stockbroker.

Morris said Basinger visited the town several times during the negotiations.

'It's been real exciting,' he said. 'She wants to perpetuate the town, to remodel it, to restore the old buildings. She might put a production studio here.'

Braselton, with 500 residents, is only a few steps from Interstate 85, which transformed it from a town in the middle of nowhere to one with two exits.

The town was founded in 1876 by Kit Braselton's grandfather, William Harrison Braselton.

The town has been on the selling block since 1982, but nobody was willing to plunk down the cash. Some potential purchasers discussed 40-year mortgages, but the Braseltons wanted a quick sale.

A few years ago, a buyer had his checkbook and pen in hand and was ready to buy Braselton for the $20 million asking price, Kit Braselton said.

'But we asked him what he planned to do with the town,' Braselton recalled, 'and you know what he said? 'None of your d-- business.' He used a curse word, but I won't.

'Anyway, we thought we owed it to the community to know what he was going to do, so we decided not to sell to him,' he said.

At the heart of the town, the Braselton Bros. Department Store is next to the Braselton Super Market, which is next to the Braselton Furniture and Appliance. Across the street stands the Braselton Banking Co, the Braselton post office and Braselton Monument Co.

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