Jeff Fuqua seeks to build mixed use next to Avalon

Avalon’s success is starting to attract additional development to Old Milton Parkway. Two new zoning applicants hope to bring new retail and mixed use projects to property adjacent to the mammoth development. And documents obtained from the city suggest that notable Atlanta real estate developer Jeff Fuqua is behind one of them.

Thompson St DevFuqua has assembled parcels totaling 21 acres just west of Avalon. Bounded by Old Milton Parkway, Westside Parkway and Thompson Street, the project would be a mix of retail, restaurants, townhomes, detached homes and a small office component.

It’s far too early to speculate on what businesses might open here but the developer hinted at an organic grocer, sit-down and fast casual restaurants, coffee shop with drive thru, bank, wine store and medical offices. The site plan calls for all retail to face Old Milton and Westside Parkways with parking behind. Office space will be above retail on the side closest to Avalon.

74 townhomes are sandwiched in the middle and measure in at 2200 to 3800 square feet each. Behind the townhomes will be 24 detached homes facing out to Thompson Street. The homes will be on tiny lots yet will be as large as 3800 square feet. John Wieland Homes appears to be the residential builder.

A small pocket park is included with the development but will be across Thompson Street to the north and almost noncontiguous from the project. They also plan to build a wide sidewalk along Thompson Street with the hopes of conforming to the city’s idea of a greenway connecting downtown to Avalon.

It’ll be interesting to see how those on Thompson Street react to the proposed development. Many of the owners are small-time real estate speculators content to rent out their old, dilapidated homes waiting for their day to cash in. That day seems to have arrived. But this portion of town is a thorn between two roses (downtown and Avalon) and many in the city want it made over.

Others on Thompson Street have a history of being a raucous bunch when it comes to changes. Nevertheless, the residential component of this plan is rather dense compared to the surroundings. There’s certainly a beef to be made here.

But they might have a hard time negotiating with Jeff Fuqua. He’s got a reputation of being controversial and difficult to work with, be it with neighbors or city leaders. Creative Loafing devoted a cover story to him a few years ago that’s worth a read. Many folks inside-the-perimeter criticize his projects for being too suburban, too big-boxy and lacking density. It’s doubtful he’ll meet this criticism in Alpharetta, especially with this project.

But Fuqua’s arrival in Alpharetta is significant. The man has over eight million square feet of retail development to tout on his resume yet he’s only worked one project in our neck of the woods. Deerfield Place on Highway 9 in Milton was his work, home to Target and Kohl’s. And he’s certainly no stranger to this area. He and his wife own or used to own Collecting Gaits, a prestigious horse farm in Milton.

A separate zoning applicant before the city this month seeks to build new retail across Old Milton Parkway from Avalon. A total of 26,000 square feet of retail would be split between three buildings next to Racetrac. Demolished would be a small home and the old shopping center that once housed Shirley Furniture.

It’s also hard to speculate on tenants in this development. A drive-thru restaurant may occupy part of the eastern-most building. Perhaps Starbucks might find a cozy new home here or in the Fuqua project. They seem to like this type of drive-thru configuration on a stripmall endcap and will do something similar on Windward in an updated Penn Hodge project. Given that Starbucks doesn’t have a presence at Avalon itself, this might be a logical choice.

12 Responses to “Jeff Fuqua seeks to build mixed use next to Avalon”

  1. mitrebox February 12, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    Deerfeld Place (est 2008) has a 4% unoccupied sq ft rate.
    If you account for the unbuilt sections, its 19%.

    The 3rd largest store is a Staples. Staples is currently seeking approval to merge with Office Depot which has a store nearby on Windward. Should the store close, it would bump vacancy to 9% and 24% respectively.

    Given the high amount of developing and new retail space, new or rebuilt office space and new housing in the Greater Alpharetta area, the Thompson Street development will have tumbleweed sections for quite some time.

    http://www.sembler.com/property/property-details.aspx?propertyid=63

  2. S Lee Guy February 12, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    I’m not so sure. I’m not in this business but I’d imagine the leasing environment is quite a bit more favorable right now near Avalon versus in Milton. And for what it’s worth, there’s a new Thai restaurant set to open in Deerfield Place that I’ll report on tomorrow.

  3. Jody February 12, 2015 at 12:09 pm #

    Mitrebox,

    Staples already closed in Deerfield, I believe Monday?

  4. mitrebox February 12, 2015 at 1:27 pm #

    One of Avalon’s best contributions to local economic development is that many of its smaller shops are new to the area and even new to Georgia.

    It had very few relocations of existing North Fulton stores. However it did poach Whole Foods (Harry’s), Crate & Barrel and Regal Cinemas.

    Harry’s is a one off location without neighboring shops, as you know they have asked for a conditional permit to convert it to offices & distribution site. This is in many ways a unique situation.

    As you’ve previously covered, Regal North Point 8 was a corner anchor of North Point Market. A particularly difficult space to fill as the most likely candidate AMC is just move into North Point Mall. Given the floor, the two former movie theaters have few conversion options, save a college in need of vast lecture space complete with THX audio.

    Avalon is an economic success with 14 restaurants, a bank, a grocery store, a cinema, a gym and 52 other retail shops. However, even if occupancy for an adjoining development pans out, I do wonder if anything more will just be poaching from existing space along North Point & Hwy 9.

    Nationally, we have a glut of retail space with over 50sqft per person and under 2% growth of non internet retail sales since 2007. Locally, we aren’t there yet and a glut of space doesn’t translate into a poor shopping experience. However it can lead to depressed tax values, poor maintenance of older developments and an overall feeling of loss of the high quality of life we’ve worked hard to achieve.

    Beware the retail dustbowl.

  5. A February 12, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    The Staples at Deerfield Place did recently close, so I wonder what will move in.

    As for this new project, it would be between Avalon and the Alpharetta post office? I wonder how the Avalon folks feel about it, not that I care if someone brings in a similar product if it has what people want. Maybe they could have some of the things people put on their wishlist for downtown Alpharetta on this blog.

  6. Greg February 13, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    I’m surprised they didn’t ask to build apartments, since Avalon says you just can’t survive in that area without building a lot of apartments!

    Did Shirley Furniture have any relation to the Shirley’s that owned much of the Windward land?

  7. S Lee Guy February 13, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    @Greg – I thought about mentioning this in the article. There are no apartments in this application. Alpharetta currently has a moratorium on applications with apartments so they would not be allowed to come in with them at this time. However, once that moratorium ends who knows what happens. Perhaps some of the larger parcels along GA-400 will come to the city and ask for their share of apartments, just like Avalon.

  8. Jill February 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm #

    The mention of “an organic grocer” was actually some time before Whole Foods entered the area. They said at the meeting we were attended last night at City Hall that they do not look to put any grocery store in that development.

    As far as apartments are concerned I doubt we’ll see much or any apartment projects in this area as the city does not want that type of residential in the downtown area other than what is already zoned for Avalon. The new residential on Thompson Street is forecast to be upscale town homes and single family detached. I doubt we’ll see any new commercial development on the interior of Thompson Street which runs from Haines Bridge Road to Westside Parkway, as City Development does not appear to want to go in that direction.

  9. A February 13, 2015 at 4:08 pm #

    On a somewhat related note, does anyone know what’s happening on Haynes Bridge at GA 400? Land has been cleared near overpass but I haven’t been able to tell what’s going there?

  10. Jen February 14, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    Read an article a few weeks ago that in 15 years half of all malls in America will close.

  11. S Lee Guy February 15, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

    @Jill – I think you’re wrong about apartments. I fear they are coming to downtown Alpharetta. Hope that I’m the one who’s wrong.

    @A – I was told that they were clearing land and building some of the roads in an effort to make the property more marketable. There are no plans at this time for that parcel. However I’m sure it has been pushed to potential big corporate relocation deals like Mercedes.

  12. Jan March 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm #

    Perhaps I’m not clear on the city’s vision. It wants to brand itself as “The Technology City” and yet its focus seems on building redundant big bix retail. High end apartments are a good move. Millennials are not home buyers in the way that their parents and grandparents were. They also would prefer to not purchase vehicles as much. It makes sense to heavily increase the bikeable spaces throughout the city, connecting them to shops, parks, and housing areas. But building furniture shops, jewlrey stores, and Office Maxes is not going to cut it. We need bigger culture here: unique museums and the discussed convention center come to mind. Such venues will bring young workers and their families to Alpharetta and help support the future of our city. Also, what will happen of North Point? Will the city allow it to be deadened by Avalon?

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