Client pressures and business trends have led the developers of a proposed 62-acre Alpharetta mixed-use project to ask the city if they can swap out a hotel in their plan for hundreds of apartments.
Fuqua Development Co. and the TPA Group were approved in 2015 for a mix of luxury office space, retail/restaurant, greenspace and a 211-room hotel. Now developers want to replace the hotel and some of the retail space with 255 apartments — a plan they believe will better position them to compete with existing developments like nearby Avalon.
The Alpharetta Planning Commission unanimously voted Thursday night to recommend letting developers have their change. The alteration will be considered by the Alpharetta City Council in two weeks.
The project, 360 Tech Village, would be located off Ga. 400 on Haynes Bridge Road — an exit between North Point Mall and Avalon. A catalyst for these types of Northside mini-cities, Avalon opened in 2014 and now has half-a-million square feet of tony retail, 250 apartments and a luxury hotel. Alpharetta council members said in February that North Point Mall could build its own 24,000-square-foot, mixed-use project with 300 apartments where a Sears at the mall used to be.
Crawford Arnold, an Alpharetta native and the TPA representative leading the 360 Tech effort, said the 62 acres represent “the very best undeveloped site in the city of Alpharetta.” And he said they’re hoping to improve it by building 1.1 miles (or an eighth) of the Alpha Loop trail and then gifting it to the city, which developed said will cost them more than $2.5 million.
He told planning commission members that the project would be in jeopardy without the apartments because his project wouldn’t be able to compete with Avalon, North Point and City Center downtown.
If approved, 360 Tech would be the third regional center in a two-mile radius, joining Avalon and North Point. As expected, these projects affect each other.
Mayor Jim Gilvin knew Avalon would harm North Point's chance of survival when he voted to approve Avalon in 2012. He said so seven years later, in February, when the Council approved a necessary overhaul at the dated mall.
City leaders don't want to anger constituents by bring in poorly designed developments that worsen traffic, but these projects also deepen the city's pockets. Even in its current declining state, North Point Mall still represents 5% of the city's 5.39 billion gross tax digest.
City spokesman James Drinkard said Friday there is no estimate for how much additional tax revenue the 360 Tech Village project was expected to bring to the city coffers.
Arnold said he is negotiating with a Fortune 500 company that wants to rent 120,000 square feet of office space and another company, allegedly worth $40 billion, to rent another 100,000 square feet.
He said offering one residential unit for every 10 jobs is what his corporate tenants are demanding so they have space to house their workforce. Arnold said the project as pitched could bring 3,150 jobs to the city, which hits the 1:10 ratio exactly with 255 apartments and 60 townhomes.
When The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked for comment, Arnold declined to say who the corporate clients were and said he couldn’t talk more about the project.
From information presented in the meeting, developers expect one-bedroom apartments would be priced from $1,400 a month to $1,700 and two-bedroom units would start at $1,900 a month and go up to $2,200. Developers said the townhomes would range from the $400,00s to the $600,000s.
The idea of densely packed apartments rubs some North Fulton residents the wrong way, raising complaints they bring traffic and hurt schools. This was on display in June as Roswell considered putting more than 400 apartments and townhomes on the site of an old Super Target.
Residents in Roswell said students in apartments are often transient residents, who make the job of teachers more difficult.
Larry Attig, a member of the Alpharetta Planning Commission, said some people don’t understand who is moving into these luxury apartments.
“The types of apartments people visualize will never happen,” said Attig, who has been in the city for 42 years.
Three people spoke in favor of 360 Tech and no one spoke in opposition at the commission meeting Thursday.
The Alpharetta City Council will consider the project at its Dec. 16 meeting at city hall, 2 Park Plaza.
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Ben Brasch is the reporter tasked with keeping Fulton County government accountable. The Florida native moved to Atlanta for a job with The AJC. If there's something important to you going on in Fulton, he wants to know about it. Help him better metro Atlanta by dropping a line, anonymously or otherwise.