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2021: Business bounces back in North Atlanta

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NORTH METRO ATLANTA — This was the year business bounced back.

Sales tax receipts, hotel bookings and new construction all pointed north as consumers dug out of their shelters and went back to work. Evidence of the recovery stretched from Roswell’s revived Southern Post to massive, mixed-use developments planned in Alpharetta and Forsyth County.

Roswell

Roswell has a lot to celebrate with renewed activity this month at Southern Post, a long-abandoned property in the Historic District. Plans for the 260,000-square-foot project include 128 luxury apartments, nine townhomes, 95,000 square feed of creative loft office space and another 40,000 square feet of retail. The entire endeavor is estimated at close to $100 million.

The city also passed measures this year adopting new benchmarks for mixed-use developments that will require major elements of retail and office be constructed before issuing certificates of occupancy for residential units.

Alpharetta

Development in Alpharetta went into high gear this year with plans for major mixed-use business and residential centers.

In September, the City Council voted 4-3 to approve a plan from developer Brandon Wheeless for a sports health complex at Kimball Bridge Road and Northwinds Parkway.

“I think this is going to be a monumental project that is going to not only put Alpharetta higher than its peers statewide but put it on the global map,” Wheeless said after the vote.

Alpharetta OKs high-end wellness resort

Plans for the nearly 5-acre site, dubbed “The Bailey,” include a 100-room, five-star hotel and amenities to suit an elite clientele, a 156,000-square-foot wellness center with state-of the-art facilities, offices and nearly 25,000 square feet of retail.

In December, developer Southwest Value Partners unveiled plans to transform the current Hewlett-Packard corporate campus on Windward Parkway into a mixed-use community that will add another 1 million square feet of office space to the city. Plans also call for residential and retail on the 51-acre site. The proposal is set to go before the Planning Commission and the City Council in February.

Milton

In Milton, Market District Crabapple and Crabapple Market have added elements to the downtown. Slowed by supply chain issues associated with the pandemic, both developments are moving forward.

Market District Crabapple is a high-density, mixed-use development under construction along Heritage Walk near Birmingham Highway in Milton. Once completed, the 4-plus-acre development will consist of seven buildings with residential and commercial space.

Just down the street, an expansion that builds off the existing Crabapple Market will feature 11 new buildings and include retail, restaurant and residential spaces. The mixed-use development is privately owned.

New businesses open in downtown Crabapple

In November, Vision Development broke ground on a 180-acre residential site just south of Bell Memorial Park on Hopewell Road. The development will include 36 custom, luxury homes starting at $3 million, with lots ranging from 3-10 acres. The project is near and dear to city leaders who have consistently pushed for low-density residential development.

Johns Creek

Johns Creek formally adopted a master plan for its future Town Center in October. The document draws on a 20-year plan to redevelop the 192-acre Technology Park into a live-work-play destination, using City Hall as an anchor.

Five “overarching themes” were established for the project: arts, culture, wellness, sustainability and innovation. Early plans call for residential, retail and entertainment venues.

Johns Creek adopts formal Town Center plan

By and large, the biggest hurdle facing the project is land acquisition. Currently, the city only owns 14% of the 192 acres.

Later in the year, the City Council heard a presentation from iHeart Johns Creek to incorporate a “wellness district” within the Town Center. The district would focus on wellness, a place where people could find healthy foods, fitness opportunities and cooking classes.

Forsyth County

Forsyth County continued work on its unified development code to accommodate continued interest in the area for business and residential development.

Late in the year, the County Commission also established new guidelines on agricultural zoning that will allow those with 20 acres or more to operate agritourism businesses, like wineries, wedding venues and tree farms. Commissioners said that as traditional business continues to grow, they want to implement measures to provide farmers with added means to preserve their land.

Plans were announced in July for a major, mixed-use development in South Forsyth County that would be on the scale of Halcyon. The team of developers, which includes Toll Brothers homebuilders, Empire Communities and Wakefield Beasley Associates design firm, say the project would cover close to 400 acres just north of McGinnis Ferry Road.

Forsyth County OKs mixed development near Ga. 400

Plans call for 15 pocket parks, two amenity complexes, a large village center and nearly 4 miles of trails. One part of the project calls for anchoring one corner of the development with a science, technology, engineering, arts and math school. The plan remains in the early stages as it undergoes a Development of Regional Impact review through the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The City of Cumming continues to make progress on its major downtown renovation, City Center, which is scheduled for completion in the spring.

Cumming advances contracts for City Center project

The 77-acre site will include approximately 117,000 square feet of retail space, a new Cumming Police and Municipal Court building, an amphitheater adjacent to a small lake, water fountain, pocket parks, a putting course, steam engine display and an extensive trail and boardwalk system. Another 10 acres will be donated to the City of Cumming for development of additional walking trails.

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