It's long been the dream of many in Peachtree Corners that the 20+ acres across from The Forum would be developed into a multi-use area that all could enjoy.
That dream is about to end.
Charlie Roberts, the owner of the coveted land, and the last undeveloped acreage in the city, has announced he will soon sell the property to Lennar, a Miami, Florida-based company to be developed into a high-end multi-family complex of some 250 or so apartments.
Despite a decade-old fight to keep apartments from being built by community activists including the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA), a large apartment complex is planned for the property. Construction could start as early as May, 2013.
"It's not the best use of the land," agreed Gray Terry, Vice President of Land Use for the UPCCA. The civic organization had been fighting against the property being developed into an apartment complex.
The UPCCA fought to keep the property from being developed into apartments. Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners denied Roberts request to rezone for apartments to keep apartments from being built on the property. Then Roberts took the county to court.
"It went through the courts," said Terry. "The Superior Court of Gwinnett County ruled in favor of the property owner."
Diana Wheeler, the city's Community Development Director, said the ideal mix of homes to apartments for a city is somewhere in the 70-30 to 60-40 percent range. The city is currently at 50 percent homes, 50 percent apartments, the additional 250+ apartments proposed for the property will put the city over the current 50/50 mark.
The land was originally zoned residential (R-100 and R-75), but Roberts later was successful in getting the property rezoned for apartment use (RM-13).
Roberts had planned to develop the property himself some five or six years ago but the 2007 recession forcing him to delay his development plans. The purchase price for the property is nearly $7.6 million.
"The community had hoped it would be developed into a mixed use area," said Wayne Knox, the former V.P. of Land Use for UPCCA.
The development falls within the Simpson Elementary School district so students living in the new apartment complex will attend the Peachtree Corners school
Because the property falls inside the Overlay District established in 2007, the City of Peachtree Corners does have some control over the development, explained Knox. The development must adhere to the signage, architecture and landscaping controls of the Overlay District.
Wheeler said no plans have been filed with the city. All plans will be subject to review by the city's Planning Commission with the ultimate approval falling on the Peachtree Corners City Council.
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