FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — It’s seemingly one step forward and two steps back for a nearly decade-long project that is slowly advancing, much to the dismay of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.
In 2008, Taubman Centers Inc., and the Forsyth County government finalized a development agreement that includes an overlay district and economic incentives for a large-scale luxury, regional retail and mixed-use development.
The mall, which hasn’t been named and is still without an opening date, although it’s speculated for 2020, sits on 164-acres at the intersection of McGinnis Ferry Road and Ronald Reagan Boulevard, south of the interchange at Ga. 400 and McFarland Road.
In 2013, an apartment complex with 270 high-quality garden-style units was completed and quickly leased-up. More are planned, with a total of 875 residential units projected.
But the building has stopped.
The commission revisited the development Aug. 22 and approved a revised final plat for one of the multiple phases of construction.
In addition to the residential element, the development is planned for more than one million square feet of retail including a luxury mall with up to three anchor stores, 900,000 square feet of office, 500 hotel rooms, with an allowable height of up to 12 stories for office and hotel uses.
County Attorney Ken Jarrard said, as a property owner whose land is depicted on the plat, the county is tied to the overall development. He said the board must approve changes, which it did when the interim county manager signed the revised final plat.
“The last time this was discussed, there has been some reticence by the chairman and the board generally to execute this plat,” Jarrard said. “The last direction you gave my office was you didn’t want to consider executing the plat until we had a meeting with Taubman representatives.”
A meeting was held a few weeks ago between some commissioners and Taubman officials, and future meetings were promised, Jarrard said.
At that meeting, Jarrard said he was promised by Taubman that the second right-of-way payment will be placed on hold until a bigger comprehensive agreement is made.
“This plat would allow a build out for residential to include apartments with some commercial as well,” Jarrard said. “This was something we discussed and entered into an agreement that was perfected by the Zoning Board of Appeals because it was a challenge to (the planning and zoning director’s) administrative determination.”
A “reasonable deal” was worked out with Taubman and was approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals that there would be no further build out of residential until the regional mall was built, Jarrard said.
“That’s what the board has wanted since 2007,” Jarrard said.
Commissioner Pete Amos said this is one of the best pieces of land in the county and is bound to be half commercial development.
“Everyone thought the mall was going to be built by the time the McGinnis Ferry Road interchange was going to be there,” Amos said. “We know it’s not. The retail component has changed tremendously because malls aren’t expanding anymore due to the economy. The new concept is Avalon and Halcyon.”
Commission Chairman Todd Levent said he’d like to see a site plan and start date from Taubman.
Rob Good, who works with Taubman as real estate agent, development consultant and local liaison, said they are working toward that end.
“We based a lot of the apartments off getting retail,” Levent said. “We wouldn’t have done that if we didn’t know we wouldn’t get retail.”