Alpharetta residents got their first chance to hear what North American Properties plans for Avalon, its 80-acre property at Old Milton Parkway and GA 400, and the 70-80 people at Alpharetta City Hall mostly seemed impressed with the presentation.
On Monday night residents had a chance to ask questions. Starting with an Alpharetta Planning Commissiong meeting on March 1, they will have the chance to say what they think about the project on the record.
Mark Toro of North American Properties told city residents his company plans a less intense development than what Thomas Enterprises proposed for Prospect Park on the same property.
Avalon will have single family residential in a 13-acre section of the property, with 118 townhomes and 14 single-family detached homes. It also would have 250 multi-family residences for rent above the retail, the biggest issue they expect to have with the community.
Toro said the rental property would be built above the retail, and is necessary for the project. These rental units look nothing like apartments as Alpharetta knows them, he said. And they will cost 30 percent more than the market price in the community as residents pay a premium to live there. That will break the chain the community identifies with rental units of declining values, lower rental prices and the attraction of a criminal element that many people in the community believe happens with apartments, Toro said.
Pre-leasing is going strong, he said.
"There is a proposal that's well along, well advanced with an organic grocer whose initials are Whole Foods," Toro said. "They are the retailer all other retailers seek to be around."
The grocer brings the high income, affluent shopper two or three times a week to the property, he said. Even Neiman Marcus said its number one cotenant is Whole Foods.
A 16-screen, state-of-the-art digital movie theater by Regal is planned. Those who voiced concern about the current Regal Theater, which he said they build in the mid-1990s, can rest easy as Regal proposes converting that to a cinema bistro, Toro said.
"As you see nationally, the trend toward offering beer and wine, and light dining during the movies, that's what will be at North Point Market Center," he said.
The hotels and mid-rise office buildings will come later. The plan is to build the single-family townhomes and detached residences 10 units at a time keeping up with demand.
One thing North American Properties won't do is build to spec. The company won't start building until it has the right percentage of space pre-leased, he said.
The key is that the energy remains on the project 16 to 18 hours a day, which is much longer than at North Point Mall or any "retail 2.0" center, such as The Avenue Forsyth in Cumming. And it will be completely walkable, with visitors expected to park their cars when they arrive and walk around the retail spaces.
Compared to the zoning approved on the site for Prospect Park, Avalon will have:
- 37 percent less retail (558,900 square feet);
- 36 percent less office space (840,200 square feet maximum);
- 34 percent less residential space (382 units);
- 13 percent more hotel space (475 rooms maximum).
And when Toro said there would be 34 percent fewer trips generated by Avalon than the previous plan, a mild cheer rose from the audience.
Toro said they are proposing extending North Winds Parkway through that property to link Kimball Bridge Road with Old Milton at that point and leading north into the Avalon property.