An assisted living facility in south Forsyth moved another step closer during a meeting Thursday of the Forsyth County Development Authority.
The authority voted 5-0 to approve a purchase agreement associated with $45 million in revenue bonds for Improved Living-Towne Club Windermere Assisted Living LLC.
The authority first approved the bonds for the project — slated to include 142 independent, assisted and memory care housing units on Trammel Road — in spring 2012. Forsyth County commissioners also signed off on the project.
However, that approval reached its one-year expiration under Internal Revenue Service laws before the deal closed. In September, commissioners voted to revisit the issue.
During the authority’s meeting Thursday, developer Greg Almquist said he hopes to close the deal and begin construction on the project in early February.
He said the project likely will take about 14 months to complete, possibly opening in April 2015.
Attorney Bill Holby of King & Spalding, who is representing the authority in the matter since the group’s regular attorney, Emory Lipscomb, is representing the developer, said Thursday’s vote was not entirely needed. But he felt it was important “due to the amount of time that had transpired” since the authority first approved the bonds.
In other business Thursday, the development authority heard a report from Randall Toussaint, vice president of economic development with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
Toussaint said 19 development projects took place during 2013 in the county.
“Those projects generated 624 new jobs and $58.9 million in capital investment,” he said. “Fifty-eight percent of those projects came from local companies growing and expanding.”
He also noted that the county had a 36 percent closure rate on leads for new companies locating to Forsyth. “It was a phenomenal year,” he said.
Toussaint also touched on development of an industrial park site the county owns on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.
During the height of the economic boom, the county bought the 33 acres as the potential site of a new courthouse and detention center. However, voters rejected a bond referendum to build the facilities there in 2008.
On Thursday, Toussaint presented a preliminary conceptual design for possible development of the site.
Chairman Bobby Thomas noted that the site includes several wetland areas, which a developer would have to work around.
At Thomas’ request, Forsyth County Commission Chairman Pete Amos, who was at the meeting, agreed to have the commissioners take a look at the site and offer recommendations on how to proceed.
Thomas also brought up a potential project that could be funded through the development authority.
During the group’s last meeting in September, Thomas asked the authority to consider erecting a water fountain in front of the new county courthouse, which is being built in downtown Cumming.
According to Thomas, funding for the project would come from fees paid by businesses for various projects rather than taxpayer money.
While no formal vote was taken on the matter Thursday, it seemed members were in agreement to move forward.
In addition, Thomas suggested the authority could potentially work with various local civic groups, such as Rotary clubs and Leadership Forsyth, with each taking on a separate project that could complement the fountain.
“Maybe one group could fund some benches and another maybe a flower garden or something along those lines,” he said. “I don’t think the county really budgeted for any sort of landscaping or beautification projects at the entrance of the courthouse. This would be good since it would not involve taxpayer money.”
He added that interested civic groups could contact him or any other member. The group plans to discuss the idea further early next year.