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Alpharetta Planning Commission Puts Off Avalon Vote

North American Properties' general manager says this delay puts the October 2013 opening in jeopardy.

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;
  • Transportation;
  • 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.

Lisa March 04, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Please no more apartments! Just wipe it from the plans and proceed please!
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg March 04, 2012 at 04:24 AM
This was interesting: http://www.apartmentratings.com/rate/CA-San-Jose-Santana-Row.html#b
Kyle Tripp March 04, 2012 at 02:56 PM
It is about profit...and it should be. Developers develop to generate revenue above and beyond their costs. It is called capitalism. They must create a product that will attract consumers for both the retail, offices and homes. Profit motive is what rewards them for creating the right product, and helps to ensure their endeavor is filled to capacity so we won't have to stare in wonder at our current dazzling gateway to the City. The property sat empty for years because it was foreclosed upon. There was also a bank acquisition, Wachovia, the original bank holding the loan, was bought by Wells Fargo. Wells couldn't even tell prospective buyers whether they owned it or not. The passage of time from when NA bought it and collaborated with Community Development has been months. Clearly enough time to make a decision. A project of this size, magnitude and importance was not deliberated upon in Ms. Wheeler's office behind closed doors. Commissioners knew it was coming. The property is already zoned and approved for greater density and Condo units, not rental units. Should NA go ahead and build with the originally approved density with a product, (Condo units) that everyone knows will not sell due to the incredible glut of existing Condos? Construction financing for condos is non-existent while apartment construction financing is available because there aren't any available. The market dictates what can and cannot be done. Supply and Demand. Avalon is no exception.
David LeBlanc March 04, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Get over it people. I live adjacent to the project and welcome any development. Alpharetta needs to take their head out of there add and develop the eyesore.
Linda Persing March 05, 2012 at 04:24 PM
This property was purchased knowing full well that it was not zoned for apartments. If North American wants apartments at Avalon let them purchase/transfer the rights from another location within the city. One of the issues is the ratio of for sale/rental units within the city limits. Also, the outparcels need to be fully vetted. I don't want a drive in Chick-FilA facing Old Milton. Since Mark Toro lives in Midtown, he won't have to look at it. Avalon should be subject to the same scrutiny and requirements that Penn Hodge had to go through for Windward Mill. The planning commission is correct in making sure this developer doesn't cannabalize retailers and restauranteurs from North Pointe. Just because this has been a dust heap for five years doesn't mean the city should dive into the first proposal that comes along.

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