Crews break ground on massive Avalon complex

A parade of excavators and a wrecking ball ushered in the start of construction Monday of Avalon, a $600 million mixed-use development along Ga. 400 and Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta.

North American Properties, the crew behind the revitalization of Atlantic Station, broke ground on what backers touted as the first “future proof” mixed-use development.

The planned roster of high-end retailers like Orvis and Whole Foods, concierge services and other amenities are designed to create an “experience,” and entice guests to stay longer. It’s a deliberate plan to combat the persistent threat of online shopping that is sapping life from retail centers from coast-to-coast, said North American’s managing partner in Atlanta, Mark Toro.

Toro said his firm should have financing wrapped up soon. The first phase of Avalon will open in summer 2014, with the second phase to follow in spring 2016.

Many of the retailers and restaurants will be firsts to Georgia or planting a second flag in the state. Avalon officials said it will offer office tenants, residents and guests ultra high-speed Internet service through fiber optic cable that is 100-times faster than what is available elsewhere in the region.

That connectivity is expected to lure technology companies to the complex’s Class-A office space, as well as tech savvy residents to its 250 rental residences and 100 single-family homes.

North American Properties acquired the site along Old Milton Parkway after initial development plans by developer Stan Thomas faltered. Some retaining walls and a parking structure were built before construction stalled. To signify a new era for the site, crews started tearing down the decrepit parking deck, an eyesore to Alpharetta residents for years.

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