Progress Partners Helps Sell Business Community on Avalon

The chamber initiative wants Alpharetta business people to come out and support the mixed use development.

North American Properties and the tried to convince 140 local business leaders to contact Alpharetta elected officials to tell them to approve the Avalon development's zoning.

"I'm asking you for your support," said Brandon Beach, chamber president. "This chamber is fully behind Avalon and what you are doing," he told Mark Toro, head of North American Properties' Atlanta office.

Progress Partners, the economic development arm of the chamber, sponsored a breakfast at AdvancED this morning, March 21. Toro made a presentation on the mixed-use development before he and Beach asked for support.

Both Toro and Beach acknowledged Alphareta residents have a problem with apartments and the city has a policy limiting them to 15 percent of the residential devlopment in the city. But they characterized the rental units on floors above retail as something entirely different. Leases will be significantly higher on these units than the market in the community, Toro said, which eliminates concerns of crime and the "wrong element" moving in.

"It's a deal breaker. If they don't get it, they are not going to build it," Beach said.

The chamber leader said he wants something unique and transformative on the site that will draw attention.

"I don't want another Avenue, I don't want another Forum. I want something unique."

Answering questions from the audience, Toro addressed concerns that Avalon would pull retailers out of North Point Mall.

"Our entire leasing effort is two to three notches above what is in North Point Mall," he said.

Toro called the mall a great second tier retail center, but the types of stores Avalon will attract would more likely be in places such as Buckhead, or not even in the state yet.

Up to 50 percent of the retail space is spoken for, Toro said. The project will not be built on spec; 65-70 percent of the retail needs to be leased for it to be constructed, he said. The single family detached residential and townhomes will be built 10 units at a time to keep residential from being speculative as well.

Beach urged the business people to do three things:

  1. Post comments supporting Avalon on Alpharetta's Open City Hall forum;
  2. Contact City Council members offering support of the project by April 3;
  3. Attend and speak in favor of the project at the April 23 City Council meeting, when it is scheduled to be in a public hearing.

North American Properties has its own online and social media presence, all of which can be accessed through an Avalon website.

The , and plans a work session on Monday, March 26 to discuss the development. It's next regular meeting is April 3.

Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com March 22, 2012 at 01:34 PM
It is no surprise that the Chamber supports apartments. It is also no surprise that they will attempt to recruit speakers in favor of them even though the majority of residents wish to maintain the city's ratio. The only real question is... do Council members have the courage to stand up to the Chamber and vote with the will of their constituents.
Rob Forrest March 22, 2012 at 01:45 PM
I've proposed upscale mixed use for rent lofts over retail in downtown Alpharetta for years and have been told over and over absolutely not, no way, etc. downtown Alpharetta needs this more than Avalon does
Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com March 22, 2012 at 02:22 PM
A great point. For years Alpharetta has been telling developers no on apartments due to the ratio. When Avalon gets their exemption, guys like Rob will come back to Alpharetta expecting the same treatment. Alpharetta will be unable to say "absolutely not" to apartments anymore. The workaround for NAP is to acquire apartment development rights from another developer or simply build condos.
Rob Forrest March 22, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I think they should allow them in mixed use only, limit it to 15% but that ratio is calculated within mixed use zoning class only, and every 10 years have to come back to council to renew zoning or they'll condo them.
PhatNate March 22, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Frankly I don't know understand why they just don't put condos in there. i know the city is hung up on the 85/15 ratio of owners to renters. That would allow 37 rentals out of 250 units. But maybe as a compromise grant them an 80/20 ratio which would allow 50 rentals.
No Name March 23, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Let it be a deal breaker then because we don't need more apartments. Why do we have a guideline if we don't adhere to it? What is the argument for turning down others that want the same deal if NAP gets theirs? There is none. "Leases will be significantly higher." You cannot guarantee that and what if they don't sell. Atlantic Station didn't set out to build Section 8 housing but that is what it is now. Residents are looking at the long-term. Everything starts out nice. Even Cabrini Green.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg March 23, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Actually, most of us don't think long term, immediate gratification is one of the core elements of our society, but nevertheless, in that vein I will suggest that the 1 reason I see for incorporating a high-rent residence strategy at Avalon is if it will attract residents who are working locally at one of our many fabulous corporate campuses. To me, that is the question: what is the job outlook with these awesome tech companies and other corporations who chose to locate here? Because living close to work is the smart choice in a metro area like Atlanta. And luxury rentals provide an immediate gratification to young 20 and 30 somethings who don't have 2 kids, 2 cars and 2 dogs, who are gainfully employed NEARBY.
Mark Toro March 25, 2012 at 12:55 PM
You hit the proverbial nail on the head, Julie. There is currently no housing option for those employed by Alpharetta's tech employers who are seeking an amenity rich, active environment. Exhibit A is Ogilvy & Mather's recent decision to leave Roswell and locate in Midtown, closer to where their young braintrust resides. If Alpharetta is to continue to attract high tech businesses, becoming "The Silicon Valley of the South", we must offer an experience the next generation of Alpharetta residents will embrace. In addition, the movement toward luxury rental among downsizing empty nesters and corporate residents, seeking mobility and "lock-and-leave" opportunities can not be ignored. The "apartment" paradigm must be shifted in order to accommodate a residential product unlike anything the City of Alpharetta has ever seen. Mark Toro Managing Partner North American Properties
Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com March 26, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Mr. Toro, I don't doubt that you can find companies that wish to locate in urban environments. But for every Ogilvy & Mather you can think of I can name five companies that have decided to move or expand here. A few that come to mind recently are Agilysys, Global Payments, HP, Vesta and ThyssenKrupp. The fact is that over the last few years we've seen more companies move here than leave. They move here because of our nationally ranked schools and overall attractive standard of living. Alpharetta got this way by encouraging things like home ownership and codifying it into land use plans. It has served this area well. Yes, Gen-Y professionals don't want to live here... today. But in ten years they will. Once Ogilvy & Mather's employees have kids they will ponder sending them to Atlanta's abysmal public schools. Then they will covet Alpharetta and our high caliber schools. That's how this Gen-X professional wound up here! Please build Avalon, but don't push us toward an apartment paradigm shift.
Julie Hollingsworth Hogg March 26, 2012 at 01:54 PM
"(Companies) move here because of our nationally ranked schools and overall attractive standard of living." ---They also move here for the redundancy in our fiber optics. The only thing I think would be abysmal would be living in a city that only tries to market itself to families with grade school kids - you're missing so much of the population! And I do hear my son's generation, those 20-30 year olds, saying they do not want home ownership right now and are very open to the idea of luxury rentals. I'm not saying it's right or wrong for this city, but I want to listen to what they are saying. I don't know that "an apartment paradigm shift", as you say, is right for us or not, but I do know that paradigm shifts happen all the time and you'd be wise use them to your advantage.
tg March 26, 2012 at 02:05 PM
As a professional 20-something living in Alpharetta, I'd love to see more things that appeal to us. There's already plenty here for the white picket fence and 2.5 kids crowd. There's so much revenue that Alpharetta loses by making the desires of young professionals unwelcome.
No Name March 26, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Why did you come to our town claiming you wanted to hear our input but then shun everything we have to say and call us names? In our Comprehensive Plan we have a guideline of 85% single family to 15% multifamily which is already seriously out of whack. You knew this BEFORE you purchased the property so this is a problem of your own making. Go away, Lyle Lanley! We don't want it.
Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com March 27, 2012 at 12:51 AM
Julie, Alpharetta's fiber infrastructure is no longer a competitive advantage like it once was. The schools are still very much in our favor though.
No Name March 27, 2012 at 01:20 AM
The schools are in our favor.... for now. Interesting that Katie Reeves from Fulton County Board of Education spoke out against this project.
Linda Persing April 09, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Read the front page of today's AJC. The City of Alpharetta is paying the Chamber so Progress Partners can lobby the City Council in favor of North American Properties. Are you kidding me? This is a much bigger scandal than the overblown Verizon Amphitheater ticket debacle. How many of the posts on these blogs about Avalon are coming from members of the Chamber, Progress Partners and employees of North American Properties? If the City Council rubber stamps the apartments at the April 23rd meeting, heads should roll. Mayor Belle Isle--this is a much bigger deal than reimbursing the city for some venue tickets.


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