Mayor Announces New Developer Stepping In to Buy Roberts Property

In a sudden turn of events, the Peachtree Corners City Council said Wednesday night that a private developer had put a contract on the 20.6 acre tract of land across from The Forum.

In a surprise announcement at the Special Called City Council meeting Wednesday (Feb. 27) night, Mayor Mike Mason said that a new buyer had stepped in and put a contract on the tract of land across from the Forum.

Peachtree Corners city leaders had decided earlier to purchase the 20.6-acre tract known as the Roberts Property to keep the property from being developed into a 250+ apartment complex. But with a contract from a private buyer now in place, that will no longer be necessary.

The new developer's plans for the site is for a mixed-use development and will be in keeping with the architecture of The Forum across the street said Mayor Mike Mason.

"We were surprised and pleased a market alternative presented itself," said Mason. "The city's objective was to stop apartment development on a key location that we believed should have commercial or mixed use zoning."

As a precaution the City Council last night approved a backup contract for the purchase of the property.

"As a safeguard, we put in the back up offer so that if this prospective buyer fails to close, we will be in a position to step into their shoes," the mayor said.

The City Council moved into executive session shortly after calling the meeting to order and returned with the news.

"The city worked long and hard for an alternative solution before deciding to buy the property as a last ditch effort," said the mayor. "This action by the prospective purchaser certainly meets our original objective and confirms our instinct about this site."

Details of the contract were not available other than the new developer is purchasing the property from Lennar (the current owner) for the same price that the city had negotiated.

Citizens who want to provide input on the development should plan on attending the next public meeting of the 2033 Comprehensive Plan scheduled for April 24. Visit the city's website for additional information on the Comprehensive Plan.

Also, take the online survey (you will not need to add any personal information). The answers you provide will be used by Pond and Company to collect data for the city's Comprehensive Plan.


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Steve Rausch February 28, 2013 at 01:27 PM
I'm happy that this issue has apparently resolved itself successfully, and that the councils strategy worked. However, the end still doesn't justify the means in my opinion. This group still walked away from their promises on always avoiding debt for the taxpayers. My concern level has risen now knowing that they are willing to leave their ethics behind so easily.
Brian February 28, 2013 at 01:32 PM
Lennar - "Flipping for fun and profit!"
Judy February 28, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Mim Harris February 28, 2013 at 02:19 PM
I am happy to see that a developer has stepped in but am still concerned over our Council and Mayors actions.
K Wade February 28, 2013 at 02:48 PM
How convenient.
Gay Shook February 28, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Well, I think the Mayor and Council served the property owners of Peachtree Corners admirably in this matter. If low-end apartments had been built on that particular tract of land, which obviously could serve a much "higher and best" use, it would have been a serious dereliction of duty on the part of the city council to protect our property values! Just think about what happened to Gwinnett Place Mall and the urban forces which caused that once desirable mall to lose its profitability.
Randal Tart February 28, 2013 at 04:30 PM
If the council had insisted on a rezoning plan for the entire parcel, and not rezoned just the portion with frontage on Ptree Parkway, all of this drama could have been avoided. The price of the land made the R-13 apartment zoning unfeasible - the price per unit was way too high. Which is why it remained undeveloped for over a decade. Rezoning the frontage allowed that portion to be sold at a much higher per-acre price making the remaining land's cost low enough to work for apartments. Which is why a buyer came forward. Obviously the highest and best use for this property is for retail and/or office, and I'm happy to see that that is now the plan. And it happened in spite of, not because of, the Council's intervention. I am sorely disappointed that our elected officials so clearly overeached their mandate from the voters. Their ability to find a circuitous route to enable purchasing a multi-million dollar property WITH OUR MONEY does not make it right. Shame.
CJC February 28, 2013 at 04:33 PM
I don't think that anyone was excited about our City buying property and having to finance the deal. However, I question all the people who are shooting arrows at our leaders for their decision to take action on this property. What would you have done? Would you have allowed the property to be developed as planned? If so, then that tells me all that I need to know. I applaud our local leaders for taking a tough stand to do what is right for our great community...even in the face of certain opposition. In my opinion, the high density apartment that was going to be slapped up within the year would have ultimately made Peachtree Corners a less desirable place to live for the next 20 years. If the property is developed with a sustainable and thriving community in mind, then this city will be the envy of EVERY other one in Georgia.
Juan Blanco February 28, 2013 at 04:35 PM
Interesting. I wonder who is this "so called" new developer, and what in heaven’s name could have convinced him to step in and OVER PAY for this property which Mr. Roberts sold to Lennar Properties 4 or 5 months ago for approx $7.6 MM?? The plot thickens... Can't wait to hear what's next. Could it be plans to have this "New and Unknown Developer" set aside some of the land to build us a beautiful and massive City worthy of our governing body? This is getting more interesting by the minute...
Robert J. Nebel February 28, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Hmm, perhaps this land could be a good place for a certain stadium? Seriously, here's hoping that this will be a nice complex. Indeed this is a long, tough road, but the council and mayor seem to be working in the city's best interests.
Randal Tart February 28, 2013 at 04:50 PM
What would I have done? I would have insisted that the entire parcel be rezoned at one time, with ample opportunity for the public to comment - just like it is done in every other municipality in Georgia. A rezoning of the entire parcel would have allowed the highest and best use of the property, which does not include apartments, BTW. Would I have allowed the property to be developed as planned? Once again, the only reason the apartment plan moved forward was because the council allowed the frontage to be rezoned for retail and sold at a much higher price - which allowed the apartment deal to make economic sense. Without the partial rezoning and sale of the frontage, the land as much too expensive for apartments. The density was much too low to make the math work. The council dropped the ball and were poised to spend a LOT of OUR money to try to mitigate the damage. Behind closed doors, in secret, by the way. Maybe that was not their intent, but the process was far from the transparency we should expect from our neighbors.
ptcornersgal February 28, 2013 at 04:58 PM
I concur
CJC February 28, 2013 at 06:42 PM
Randal, You are absolutely correct that rezoning the Roberts property would have been the best option. The problem is that it wasn't an option. Roberts won a 2001 court case that made the property zoned for high density residential. There was no recourse to rezone the Roberts property. That would have been the easy solution. The current owner was going to put apartments up and the numbers did make sense. The only reason that Roberts didn't do it was because the market was not good and he was having his own financial issues.
Bob Martell February 28, 2013 at 07:30 PM
Randal, I have been as critical as anyone of the councils actions regarding this property, but the rezoning of a small parcel that Roberts had previously sold to a different developer didnt change the affordability of the project. The 20.6 acres of RM-13 has/ had little frontage on 141. (it is C2 from the corner of 141 at PC Circle north about half way to the light at the entrance to the Forum, and again from near that light north to Medlock Bridge). That 141 frontage has been C2 for years, courtesy of Gwinnett County, not the Peachtree Corners city council. There is also still about 8 acres of R-100 along PC Circle up to the corner with Medlock Bridge. The city council recently rezoned 3 acres from RM-13 to C2 for the Piedmont Five project. If you look at the plat of the project, you will see that the rezoned area only involves about 120 feet of frontage on 141, and a similar amount of frontage on Medlock Bridge.
Randal Tart February 28, 2013 at 07:42 PM
If the council had simply refused to rezone the frontage then we would be at status quo. They could have (should have IMO) insisted on a total rezone - or no rezone for the frontage. Certainly was an option - one that is used frequently in other municipalities. BTW, if you can find someone to build apartments after paying north of $52k per unit, I'd love to know who it is!
Steve Rausch February 28, 2013 at 08:11 PM
The problem here isn't this one land deal, it's the clear lack of ethics from our mayor and council, who all ran for election vowing open governing, no debt, and public input on all decisions. First chance they got not one single opposed vote! Not one single voice of opposition within the group. Maybe now after seeing this the voters will demand higher standards from our elected officials. We thought we elected good people who would live the ethics and values they talked about while running for office. Another disappointment in elected politicians. No wonder voter turnout is at an all time low! Voters want the promised talk during elections to turn into reality. Come on council, live the talk that got you elected. Everyone in the city is depending on you!
Harry Dorfman February 28, 2013 at 10:00 PM
To clarify, what does the term "Urban Forces" mean
K Wade February 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Gay, Discover Mills is what caused Gwinnett Place mall to lose its profitability....but I see what you tried to do there.
Ben March 01, 2013 at 02:43 AM
Just because it is zoned apts, doesn't mean Section 8 housing. I don't think any developer would invest his money on prime real estate to build low rent housing units. Does not make sense. As a apartment owner/ small developer myself, I would use that land to develop high end apartments(similiar to Brookhaven).Shops, restuarants, movie theater, etc on the ground, apts above. We all knew it was zoned apts and could not be changed when we voted on cityhood. This whole thing sounds like a way for someone to extort money from PC.
Grok57 March 01, 2013 at 03:00 AM
While no one wants "low-end" apartments in their city, I fail to see how the three functions of our limited government allow the purchase of property.
Lynden Carter March 05, 2013 at 02:06 AM
I live 1/2 mile from the Roberts property and must assume that many of those who were so upset by the council live in nice, quiet sub-divisions on the west side of Peachtree Parkway or never wanted Peachtree Corners as a city. The reason I campaigned for the city was to have control of our zoning and to stop Gwinnett County from continuing to use the portion of Medlock Bridge between Peachtree Parkway and Peachtree Industrial as a traffic dumping ground. It's bad enough the road was widened but to then add a high density apartment complex to the mix would have sent me over the edge. I applaud the vision that brought this into play and to a happy resolution.
Randal Tart March 05, 2013 at 05:25 PM
So, is the next purchase to be made by our elected officials to be the 'Love Shack" property? Same logic applies!
Jimmy March 05, 2013 at 06:30 PM
Now you're catching on! First it was the property across from the Forum, next it will be Sturbridge Square, then the Love Shack...
Brian March 05, 2013 at 07:15 PM
Sad, sad, sad.
Brian March 05, 2013 at 07:18 PM
Randal, Is this really what happened? So one of the earliest moves made by the new city was to actually enable this 'undesirable' development opportunity to suddenly become viable after years of not being development? Can anyone else confirm/refute?
Brian March 05, 2013 at 07:22 PM
Brian March 05, 2013 at 07:23 PM
Here's hoping for a gambling entertainment complex with live shows.... if you know what I mean.
Randal Tart March 05, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Brian, Here's the link to the zoning application for 4.318 acres of frontage. http://www.cityofpeachtreecornersga.com/pc-rzc2013-0001_1_.pdf Take a look at the site plan to see specifically the portion of the property to be rezoned from R13 to C-2 (commercial). Carving off this part of the entire parcel and dramatically increasing its value means the remaining portion has a lower cost basis - making the price per unit of the 250 apartment units low enough to be a feasible project. That is why there was activity after over a decade of none. Don't get me wrong, I thought this property should have been zoned for retail/office use many years ago. I just reject the argument that the council had no better choice than to buy the property. And I reject their assumption that they have a mandate from the voters to do so. Council members have told me that their legal advisors indicate that it is LEGAL for the City to buy this land. Surely this is NOT what was sold to the voters, IMO. Again, all of this drama could have been prevented with a little foresight.
Brian March 05, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Thanks Randal. So the irony is that becoming a city actually facilitated the exact kind of development the city was formed to prevent? If I actually thought that this was due to nothing more than incompetence, I'd call it a conspiracy.
Duluth2 March 05, 2013 at 08:49 PM
Perhaps that's the purpose of expanding the charter to add redevelopment powers as a 4th service.


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