After more than three hours of a public hearing on Avalon, the development seeking to fill the empty space left when Prospect Park tanked, the Alpharetta Planning Commission put off making any decision for at least a month.
Mark Toro of North American Properties said, "I'm terribly disappointed that they chose to table it because... we're not going to be able to tell them anything 30 days from now that we couldn't tell them tonight.
"What it means is it crunches our schedule to start and to open in October of 2013," he said.
Planning Commissioner Francis Kung'u made the motion to table the decision, saying there was too much information to digest at the time. His motion included a proposal for two Planning Commission workshops before the April 5 meeting to discuss:
- The city's 85/15 ratio of single family residential to apartments;
- The 51 conditions proposed on the development.
The proposal by North American Properties was the subject of a that was attended by approximately 150 people. Most of the materials presented have been posted online, both on the city's website and a site devoted to Avalon by its developer.
Community Development Director Diana Wheeler said the property already is approved at a higher density. The proposal from Avalon actually is a 38 percent reduction, she said.
Replacing condos with the 250 rental units above retail and adding a few single-family detached homes is a change from the existing zoning.
Planning Commissioner Nancy Bristol asked if the developer had sought negotiations with other property owners who had apartments approved on their sites that hadn't been built. She said North American Properties could buy those development rights to be used at Avalon.
Toro said his company is investigating the transfer of development rights, but said it could be too costly for the project.
North American Properties is investing $250 million in this project, he said. Since it finances its own projects, Avalon won't have the financing problems that Thomas Enterprises had with Propsect Park, according to Don Rolader, who represents the developer.
Residents who spoke at Thursday night's public hearing were split about the project. Most were against adding the 250 luxury rental units planned above the retail stores. One even said the majority of Alpharetta homeowners wanted a cap on townhomes and condos in the city, citing comments from Windward and Garden district homeowners in the 2030 Comprehensive Land Use Plan approved by the city last year.