Avalon is great with these changes

Avalon is a good project. It’s a great project with these changes. I like these changes so much that if Avalon is built with them I’d get a tattoo of the siteplan on my body.

But I cannot take credit for these ideas. They come from Alpharetta’s Community Development staff. They are recommendations that are being passed along to the Planning Commission who meets tonight to discuss the plan. I encourage you to read their document in this PDF. It also shows the conditions North American Properties disagrees with. It suggests that the negotiations are still pretty far apart in some aspects. Here are the major areas of contention.

Apartments

NAP frontman Mark Toro was careful not to use the word “apartment” in his public presentation last month. It was almost humorous to watch him dance around the issue. Alpharetta’s staff has removed the 250 for-rent units from the plan but NAP wants them back. I don’t see that either side has budged from this important aspect of the project. Approving apartments at Avalon would violate both the city’s new Comprehensive Land Use Plan as well as the Unified Development Code.

A fair compromise in my mind would be to replace the apartments with for-sale condos. Even with this addition the residential density of the overall project stays at about six units per acre.

It’s worth nothing that the legal ad announcing the Planning Commission meeting suggests that the Land Use Plan could be modified in this meeting to allow apartments in mixed use. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Poaching Retailers from North Point

North Point Mall is vital to Alpharetta’s long-term success. We’ve been fortunate that the mall has remained healthy and continues to attract retailers such as Von Maur. As the mall ages it is important to take steps to preserve it’s vitality, lest it go the way of Gwinnett Place.

Prospect Park’s developer had no problem with a zoning condition that limited their ability to lease to North Point retailers. Unfortunately NAP is pushing back on this reasonable request. They’ve indicated that Regal Theaters may be coming to Avalon, something that would violate this condition. An exemption for the theater is a worthy compromise.

Public Space

The city’s code requires 10% of the project be public space. Avalon meets this if the detention pond is treated as public space. City staff requests that a water feature be added to the pond in a decorative manor, something¬† NAP is resisting.

And while not exactly public space, NAP is also resisting a request to add a MARTA bus stop shelter along Old Milton Parkway. Metlife didn’t balk at a similar request in their Peridot project. It’s a curious thing to fight, especially coming from a group that champions urbanization.

Parking

The expansive parking lots on the site plan have been a concern to a lot of citizens. I thought Mark Toro dodged these questions during the public hearing in January. The city has responded by requesting more screening of parking lots. NAP seems cool with this except along Avalon Avenue, the main drag into the development.

So there you have it. Major kudos to city staff for putting together a document that attempts to keeps Avalon in-line with the city’s published goals. Hopefully planning commissioners and city councilmen will not acquiesce to the uncompromising demands of a developer. Avalon is a good project. Let’s make it a great project and insist on these changes.

10 Responses to “Avalon is great with these changes”

  1. Bob Strader March 1, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    Good post Lee, I agree, but I will say I don’t see big difference between for-sale condos or high-end rentals above the retail. The proposed rentals would be going for a higher $/sq. ft. than the retai space below. We’re not talking about your typical renter, these is an exclusive client. Additionaly, it gives the building owner an additional revenue stream that would be lost if those spaces were owner-occupied.

  2. Lee March 1, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    I don’t like the apartments for two reasons. First, it sets a precedent of violating the apartment limit. The next apartment developer will come in and expect the same treatment.

    Secondly, do we allow anything so long as it is labeled “high-end”?

    Plus, if they are condos, you can sell them! I’m looking out for you, Bob!

  3. Kim March 1, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Bob,
    Give it time. If condos are approved, they will come back asking for apartments when the condos don’t sell. This is happening all over the country. Research it. By approving condos now everyone has political cover.

  4. Travis Allen March 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    I agree with allowing an exemption for Regal Cinemas, their location across from the mall still doesn’t have stadium seating from what I recall, and has the fewest screens in the area. I change of venue might help them and also even help Aurora Cineplex and AMC Mansell until the new theatre opens at North Point Mall.

    It’s possible they are just trying to distance themselves from that soon to be crowded scene.

  5. Jason March 2, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

    For those looking for the site plan here is a link to a PDF of it. http://s3.amazonaws.com/peakdemocracy/public/uploads/73/313/867/ProposedAvalonSitePlan-February2012Color.pdf

  6. Michael Hadden March 2, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Where are you thinking about getting the tattoo? Just make sure you don’t get it so that the parking is in the rear.

  7. Greg March 3, 2012 at 11:05 am #

    Lee, I didn’t make it to the Planning Commission meeting, and I’m not on Twitter, but noticed your tweet to Mark Toro over on the side of your blog.

    I would hope Mark Toro doesn’t label us anything for opposing apartments in the Avalon project.

    As I’ve said many times before, it’s a FACT that before Mark Toro and his company ever agreed to spend 22 million dollars on this property, they KNEW Alpharetta has a 15% limit on apartments and is already at 25%.

    Come on, Mark – act like a good citizen in your new home.

  8. Greg March 3, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Of course, I also often wonder if the apartments are just a red herring to avert our attention from the monstorously tall buildings in the plan….

    But really, this guy is our “friend.”

  9. Lee March 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

    @Greg – I agree. I think Mark Toro was probably frustrated by the delay and that tweet was a way of showing it. I know some of the people who spoke Thursday night and I don’t think they are against the project. I certainly am NOT against Avalon.

    I think the general mood was that NAP should comply with Alpharetta code. Some even went so far as to suggest NAP purchase development rights for apartments from another developer. That would allow them to proceed with apartments and still follow the rules. Hard to call that NIMBY.

  10. Kim March 4, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    I spoke and was probably one of the ones labeled NIMBY. I am not against this project. I don’t think anyone in Alpharetta is itching to keep the mud pit around. I am personally against the apartments and condos, but more than that, I was speaking on behalf of 600 households who participated in a Oct 2011 survey regarding the Comprehensive Plan. In that survey, citizens directly and indirectly expressed that the City should honor the 85/15 sale:rent ratio. (We are now at 76/24.) Furthermore 89% want a cap on condos, 83% want a cap on townhomes, and a good majority want no limits on single family homes. This indicates that those 600 people desire Alpharetta to remain a family-centric suburban enclave, not turned into Buckhead. We already have enough multi-family approved at Alpharetta’s other exits.

    Why did NAP come to town claiming they wanted all this citizen input when they apparently didn’t mean it? Stay classy NAP. Quit calling tax-paying citizens ugly names when we attempt to defend the town we love.

    Greg, I don’t like the 14-story monstrosity either. I am also concerned about the proximity to our City Center and it hurting those businesses. There is only so much purchasing power with high unemployment and skyrocketing fuel prices that affect the price of goods to market.

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