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Property Across From The Forum to Be Developed

A large apartment complex is slated to be built on the undeveloped acreage on Peachtree Parkway across from the popular Peachtree Corners open-air shopping center.

Editor's note: A correction to the story posted on Monday, Jan. 14. Only the engineers and the permitting department will have any control over the building plans. If the plans meet the conditions, there is no intervention required by the city. Jan. 16, 2013.

 

It's long been the dream of many in Peachtree Corners that the 20+ acres across from The Forum would be developed into a multi-use area that all could enjoy.

That dream is about to end.

Charlie Roberts, the owner of the coveted land, and the last undeveloped acreage in the city, has announced he will soon sell the property to Lennar, a Miami, Florida-based company to be developed into a high-end multi-family complex of some 250 or so apartments.

Despite a decade-old fight to keep apartments from being built by community activists including the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA), a large apartment complex is planned for the property. Construction could start as early as May, 2013.

"It's not the best use of the land," agreed Gray Terry, Vice President of Land Use for the UPCCA. The civic organization had been fighting against the property being developed into an apartment complex.

The UPCCA fought to keep the property from being developed into apartments. Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners denied Roberts request to rezone for apartments to keep apartments from being built on the property. Then Roberts took the county to court.

"It went through the courts," said Terry. "The Superior Court of Gwinnett County ruled in favor of the property owner."

Diana Wheeler, the city's Community Development Director, said the ideal mix of homes to apartments for a city is somewhere in the 70-30 to 60-40 percent range. The city is currently at 50 percent homes, 50 percent apartments, the additional 250+ apartments proposed for the property will put the city over the current 50/50 mark.

The land was originally zoned residential (R-100 and R-75), but Roberts later was successful in getting the property rezoned for apartment use (RM-13).

Roberts had planned to develop the property himself some five or six years ago but the 2007 recession forcing him to delay his development plans. The purchase price for the property is nearly $7.6 million.

"The community had hoped it would be developed into a mixed use area," said Wayne Knox, the former V.P. of Land Use for UPCCA.

The development falls within the Simpson Elementary School district so students living in the new apartment complex will attend the Peachtree Corners school.

Because the property falls inside the Overlay District established in 2007, the City of Peachtree Corners does have some control over the development, explained Knox. The development must adhere to the signage, architecture and landscaping controls of the Overlay District.

Wheeler said no plans have been filed with the city.

Are you disappointed that the land will be developed into an apartment complex? Use the comment box below to let us know.


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Veritatem January 15, 2013 at 12:16 AM
Likewise. Also, I think Gwinnett Place is pretty much dead, although there are continual efforts to miraculously revive it. This, yet another increase in apartments that were already overbuilt, does not portend well for the bright future of Peachtree Corners that Mayor Mike Mason and others were trying to sell us, and little over 50% of the voters innocently bought into.
Greg Yu January 15, 2013 at 02:37 AM
I am not only disappointed,but very,very disappointed about adding this apartments in our neighborhood. What can we do to let them quit?
Michael January 15, 2013 at 03:28 AM
"All plans will be subject to review by the city's Planning Commission with the ultimate approval falling on the Peachtree Corners City Council." I believe the city actually has a lot of leeway in rejecting a development under current case law. We voted to create the city so that a legal entity could prevent this from occurring. The city must not capitulate before exercising all options. The city council must not give up, and if a lawsuit results, so be it. The result would likely be different than the County's case, since it would be repeated rejection of a proposed development, rather than a rezoning.
Veritatem January 15, 2013 at 05:22 AM
Unfortunately, the zoning is what it is, and its for apartments. The council may approve reasonable requirements, but unless the mayor and council find a negotiated alternative or another buyer or some other way to dissuade the seller or buyer, there will be + – 250 more apartments in Peachtree Corners. While Mayor Mike Mason and the council were busy approving a tax rate netting around $2 million of our taxpayer money per year, paying too much for a city manager and other employees, having a budget far beyond that calculated by University of Georgia's Institute of Government, renting digs that the city can't fully use, having an open house, approving a logo, getting their pictures taken, updating their résumés, not lowering our garbage rates, and other important matters, they apparently were just too busy to take the time for an unimportant matter like being proactive first thing, from day one, in trying to figure out an alternative to the type of the present buyer, negotiating an alternative to apartments, rallying the citizens to oppose this sort of development (Athens just got a Walmart for its downtown nixed due to pressure, despite zoning), and taking every action possible to oppose this sort of property use from the get go.
Veritatem January 15, 2013 at 05:27 AM
In the alternative, are there connections between any of our public servants and Charlie Roberts? Regardless, as it turns out, the city can't do what many promised, and apparently the mayor and council weren't so inclined, weren't able, or were too incompetent to have found alternatives early on. As such the city has turned out to be a multimillion dollar boondoggle we are paying for, and will continue to pay for as our schools suffer, traffic increases, single family residential property values fall below comparable homes elsewhere, and our quality of life suffers year after year in the future. Yes, adding more politicians to Peachtree Corners has really made a difference. Let's hope the lemmings that voted for our expensive city and a new crop of politicians wake up sometime.
K Wade January 15, 2013 at 11:15 AM
That Gwinnett Transit bus stopping right in front of those apartments will certainly ensure the high-end apartment dwellers.
Judy Putnam (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM
Greg, contact your City Council member and let him or her know how you feel. Peachtree Corners City Hall number is 678-691-1200.
Robin Montri January 15, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Thanks for taking time to answer my question Nancy. I was afraid that would be your answer :( So folks, a highly qualified, reputable and knowledgeable realtor, with decades of experience in the Peachtree Corners area is saying this development can only be a detriment to our community. What option do we have other than finding a way to stop the project, even if that includes the city purchasing the property? Is it not in the best interests of the citizens of the the community? I'm unable to go to the City Council evening this evening, but I'm hopeful that many will show to voice their disapproval of this project. Looking forward to reading the update in tomorrow's Patch!
Judy Putnam (Editor) January 15, 2013 at 08:31 PM
It's my understanding that the city cannot stop apartments from being built if that is what the developer is determined to do. The property had been rezoned for apartments some years ago after the property owner sued the county when the county turned down his rezoning request and he won in court. Perhaps Lennar (the company that is purchasing the property and developing into apts) is who you need contact. The company's headquarters are in Miami, Fla.
Veritatem January 15, 2013 at 10:47 PM
So stopping 250 more apartments being built falls on the public just like it was before we had an expensive city government? While many voting for the city were under the impression that the new city could do something about development of the Charlie Roberts property (and neither any "Yes" supporters, nor any publications including Patch, pointed out that the new city would be able do nothing about the property zoning), you are correct about the inability of the city to stop the building of apartments. However, the city charter reads that "the city shall exercise the powers... for the purposes of planning and zoning... ." So, why can't the mayor and council lead the way, contact the parties including Lennar and Roberts, and organize opposition as representatives of the citizens? Although it may be too late because the mayor and council were not proactive regarding the property development from the start, at least they should try. Also, it would help the readers if Patch and the city could find the best contact at Lennar, and a way of contacting Roberts, and publish those in Patch and on the city website so citizens can make individual feelings known.
Ground Chuck January 16, 2013 at 02:06 AM
Wow, sure glad I moved to the City of Norcross! If anyone thinks this isn't going to negatively affect EVERYTHING about Peachtree Corners, he or she is a complete fool. Better get the City Attorney busy and fast. I know Lennar, and they could not give a rat's behind about your "quality of life." It's all about the money and the revenue streamproduced by apartments. Wonder if they paid off your Council?!! LOL.
Veritatem January 16, 2013 at 02:56 AM
Yea, Peachtree Corners is headed downhill - lots more apartments with transient renters, more traffic, overcrowded schools, reduced student performance, and a city that is impotent but takes $2 million from property owners each and every single year for no purpose that the county didn't already fulfill, and without any reduction for county taxes. Sure, families wanting to buy nice houses will really want to move here. Wait for real estate agents selling in other areas to spread the word. Maybe some of the neighborhoods should secede or ask Norcross and Duluth to annex them.
Michael January 16, 2013 at 05:08 AM
I do not think the city should give up that easily. Every single legal option should be exhausted, and if Lennar chooses to sue the city, so be it.
AL January 16, 2013 at 05:32 AM
Considering the substantial list of potential and probable negative impacts resulting from this development, I think we deserve to know exactly how and why the original zoning was overturned in favor of a single developer who could not take "no" for an answer.
Veritatem January 16, 2013 at 05:48 AM
I agree, Michael. Although it is late in the game, the city should hire attorneys to look into this, turn down plans, refuse building permits, get public support, and do everything it can to be a legal pain in the a*s. Lennar sounds like a tough nut to crack, but there is enough fat in the city's inflated budget to pay for legal action. Heck, the city could get a loan and buy the property considering the revenue stream the city takes from us. I hope our politicians cause me to eat some of my words (not regarding Mayor Mason and the councils willingness to ignore the charter, overspend, and, otherwise, act like worse case politicians, etc.). We will see. If the city can't stop these apartments, the citizens should revisit the need for a city and the résumé padders in office. The vote was close for having a city, and if some of the "Yes" people have another chance they will get rid of this expensive boondoggle if the city can't stop what will be the death knell of Peachtree Corners as we know it.
Veritatem January 16, 2013 at 05:56 AM
You're right, Al. Also, I'd like to know if the judge's ruling was ever appealed. If not, maybe there is a way to revisit the matter since the city wasn't a party to the original lawsuit, or by approaching it from a different angle. While our politicians are busy spending our money, maybe they can spare some for some good legal advice.
gene wike January 16, 2013 at 10:25 AM
what a bunch of fools....peachtree corners will be just fine, the sky is not falling...
Veritatem January 16, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Another 250 new apartments in Peachtree Corners not a big deal? I smell a troll. If not, notice that there neither is a land line listed for Mr. Wike, nor does he own any property, including not owning his home, in Gwinnett County. Regardless, it's a free country, including the freedom to be stupid and unaware.
Judy Putnam (Editor) January 16, 2013 at 06:08 PM
Veritatem, it's my understanding that the mayor and council never promised that once a city was in place, they could have a say in the Roberts property. It was not a matter of being "inclined" as you suggest. I covered quite a bit of the campaigning and attended numerous meetings about cityhood and never did I hear anyone promise that by becoming a city they could control property that had already been rezoned by a court order. An alternative to deciding on what becomes of the Roberts property would require the land be purchased by someone or entity that would like to do something with it other than build apartments.
Jimmy January 16, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Hmmm, phone book and property records dont have a listing for anybody named Veritatem either... But by all means, keep ranting.
Veritatem January 16, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Yes, 250 new apartments and a boondoggle of a city are unimportant. Insightful and intelligent comment, "Jimmy." Or is it "Gene?" Please take the last sentence of my comment, above, to heart (if you can understand it).
Judy Putnam (Editor) January 16, 2013 at 07:30 PM
While we encourage people to be honest and post what’s on their mind, communities thrive when people care about each other, and as such, Patch expects all of its users to be respectful of others. This means that whether you are being complimentary or critical, whether you are agreeing or disagreeing with the subject of an article or another user’s comment, you should act in a civil manner and refrain from personal attacks – after all, these are your neighbors.
Jimmy January 16, 2013 at 08:37 PM
What I understand is that somebody is pretty hacked off that he or she voted for a city and now is regretting that decision. I was actually enjoying your rants, hence my exhortation to keep on. But if you want to be a jerk about it I hope the next apartment complex that your toy city cant stop goes in next to your neighborhood.
Veritatem January 16, 2013 at 09:53 PM
Yes, 250 more apartments and the city government bother me as you noticed (I voted "no" for the city by the way)(we know what "assume" means). Sorry I took "rant" negatively, as it usually has a negative connotation. We're going beyond the topic, and I'm going to default to Judy Putnam's comment, below.
Harry Dorfman January 17, 2013 at 03:30 AM
Dont forget, very soon we will be spending money on consultants so that we can have our trash picked up in a way that is sure to amaze. I want the hauler to leave a bow on my can and spray something in the can so it will smell nice. Wouldn't it have been great if we were a city in time to fight this? Of course, because then we could pick up the tab on a legal fight that would have been lost. This so-called city has done nothing but what Veritatem says above. Failed and its barely a year old.
Jimmy Neese January 17, 2013 at 03:03 PM
You have a great point there Judy. Its a crying shame the commissioners in Gwinnett County who were doing the land dealings didn't think the same way. They filled their pocket with their neighbors cash and none have gone to jail but one. Sad to see them still walking the streets among their Neighbors. Does seem to leave a little bad taste in your mouth. Especially at times like this and tax time. We hope that our city officials will remember they live among their Neighbors. Over a period of time things will change just look at whats in Washington. It doesn't usually start out bad but it sure has ended up very corrupt. Big money makes people do strange things. Just need to always keep the checks and balances in place. No one treats your money like you do. It seems once its given to politicians its forgotten where it came from. It comes from the people who put you in there. Funny how Amnesia sets in and makes it so easy to spend and remember where it comes from.
Sandra Hetlage January 21, 2013 at 02:16 AM
I for one do not want more appartment in Peachtree Corners. Our schools are over crowded with appox. 26 children per class room at Simpson already, How does this make any sence for the well being of our comunity. Life as we know it will change with the congestion alone. We need to put pressure on our elected city concil to do the right thing and fight to keep our comminity a wonderful place to live
Rusty Taylor January 29, 2013 at 08:45 PM
If we want to keep apartments from being built their is only one sure fire way to do that. We need to get the funds together and BUY the property.Then the city can do with it as it pleases.
debi February 04, 2013 at 03:58 AM
I am not sure but is there a zoning of Apartment or is it Multi Family - can the new city of ours require the multi family be Condo and not Apartment? - Not that i support multi family but condo has some investment by the occupant where apartment does not.
Veritatem February 04, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Good question, debi. Unfortunately, the property owner can use the land as allowed by the zoning and the city cannot force the owner to build condos if apartments are allowed by the zoning, which is the case here. Lennar wants to build apartments that the zoning allows and, subject to buying the property, the city apparently cannot stop Lennar. The city may be able to require the use of certain materials, setbacks, green space, etc., but I'm not even sure if, or to the extent, it can even do this. Unless something different happens we'll have over 250 more apartments in the city, and a total of apartments way, way more than city planners and residential real estate professionals believe is good for any city.

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