Church agrees to sell Simpsonwood

An additional $2 million from the city of Peachtree Corners was key to a land deal that will ensure more than 200 acres on the Chattahoochee River remain a passive park.

More than a week after Gwinnett County made a $14 million offer to buy Simpsonwood, the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church on Wednesday agreed to sell the 227-acre tract for a total of $16 million including Peachtree Corners’ contribution.

The land was bequeathed to the the church in 1973 by Norcross teacher Ludie Simpson with understanding that it would not be “chopped into smaller parcels or exploited or despoiled.” But for more than a decade, the church has been losing as much as $750,000 annually to maintain a conference center on the land.

Residents protested the church’s planned sale, potentially to developers. That prospect prompted lawsuits by residents who wanted to preserve the greenspace.

In a statement, the church said the land “has been a sacred and beautiful place” for its use and “will now be a pleasant place for the enjoyment of the Peachtree Corners and Gwinnett community for many years to come.”

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The land is in Peachtree Corners. It wasn’t immediately clear if the city will be a joint owner. Mayor Mike Mason could not be reached for comment, but said previously that community support for the city’s involvement in the purchase was “overwhelming.”

“The Simpsonwood retreat has been kind of a refuge for the lifetime of most of the citizens here,” Mason said.

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