Monte Hewett is working on designing homes one room at a time for Avalon's residential section. That's the attention to detail and quality he knows future residents in the $600 million development will demand.
Hewett said he spent five hours with Lew Oliver the morning before he and all of the other consultants, partners and contractors stopped working to celebrate the groundbreaking on the site off Old Milton Parkway and GA 400 Monday afternoon.
Hewett has been building homes in the area since 1988.
Hewett said the housing industry is back, at least in this area. Few new homes had been built for years, and he said the supply had dropped to around 30,000 in the metro Atlanta area. The housing industry can count it as good news to hear job announcements such as GM's plans for 1,000 new workers at its IT Innovations Center in Roswell, AirWatch's plans for an 800-job expansion in Sandy Springs and recent plans for growth at companies such as State Farm. Those high tech workers with high paying jobs want a quality home, and they just might want to move to Avalon.
Hewett isn't alone in seeing a big change ahead. The demographics in Alpharetta have changed greatly since North American Properties managing partner Mark Toro was working for Cousins Properties on its developments along North Point Parkway. When North Point Mall was built, the average household income was $62,000. Now it's almost double that. The population has tripled. Shoppers aspiring for luxury had to Buckhead, or even New York.
"The apartment resident who was seeking Class A apartments in Alpharetta has been shut out as well. "There hasn't been new apartments in Alpharetta for 12 years," Toro said.
A full-service hotel hasn't been built in Alpharetta for 12 years, either, he said.
With the construction of Avalon, Toro said there will be somewhere in North Fulton where you can walk to Whole Foods, walk to Regal Cinemas, walk to your office, from your office walk to lunch.
The reason Avalon will work today is because of all of these reasons, Toro said.
Retailers today are engaged in providing an experience to the guests when in past years they were "all about selling their stuff," he said. "Our job as landlords is to extend that experience from the story into the property."
North American Properties has a goal to connect Avalon to transit. "To provide a walk-able, mixed-use environment without a transit link, kind of defeats the purpose," Toro said.
Workers in Avalon will need to match the quality level of the shops and restaurants where they will be employed. High end stores demand higher quality employees, he said.
"These are not minimum wage high school kids," Toro said, they are people who get what service means.