Avalon needs to be built. It is a beautiful and well thought out project put together by a great company. Compared to the three other mixed use developers to come to Alpharetta, North American Properties is much better equipped to make their project a reality.
I also like their track record at Atlantic Station, particularly the revitalized restaurant scene. I believe Avalon has the potential to put Alpharetta’s restaurant scene on the map, something that would make this blogger very happy.
I wanted to come right out and say this because I sincerely believe it. I’ve very much a fan of Avalon and want it to become a reality. At the same time I want Alpharetta to be able to approve the project while staying within their land use goals. I think both are possible through the transfer of development rights.
Avalon’s high-end apartments are different – nothing like the garden-style apartments that dot the landscape of Alpharetta. This is a very true statement.
Unfortunately zoning codes, include Alpharetta’s, don’t distinguish between normal and high-end apartments. As a matter of fact Alpharetta’s code only recently separated apartments from other multi-family dwellings like condos. The city has no way under the current code to to say “yes we want these really nice apartments” while also saying “no we don’t want traditional apartments.”
I think this point gets lost in the Avalon apartment debate. Most opposition to Avalon’s apartments is not because of a dislike of how NAP is designing them. It is because apartments, any apartments, violate Alpharetta’s long-standing land use goal. So important has the 85-15 goal been that it’s almost a sacred cow of Alpharetta politics.
That’s why the transfer of development rights is such an important condition to add to Avalon’s zoning. It keeps constant the number of apartments approved within the city while allowing NAP to proceed with their plans.
It also allows the city to reject other future apartment applicants without creating a double standard. How important is this? They’ve already come knocking.
Apartment developer AMLI has a new application before Alpharetta to build 300 traditional apartments on Westside Parkway. This request will immediately follow Avalon, most likely hitting the Planning Commission agenda in May. Others are sure to follow.
Approving Avalon’s apartments outright sets a precedent for apartments that Alpharetta will have a tough time running away from. The Planning Commission understood this and voted to add the TDR condition. The fact that the vote was unanimous puts an exclamation mark on the recommendation as it goes to the City Council. This is very much the will of the people of Alpharetta.
This has been a long and tedious process. Unfortunately at times it has been ugly and unprofessional. But at the end of the day the people in this community want Avalon and they want their land use goals maintained as well. The TDR condition allows us to have our cake and eat it too. It’s a great compromise that I wholeheartedly support. I hope Alpharetta’s City Council approves Avalon with the Planning Commission’s conditions. I’m ready to be writing about Avalon in my Foodie Friday column, not in a political sense.
More reading on Avalon…
- Lengthy discussions at the Alpharetta Patch here, here and here.
- Why mixed-use developers want apartments over retail and not condos.
- My take on Progress Partners and Avalon and how it is measurable.
- NAP’s political contributions.