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Authority's OK begins process
$45M bond plan is for senior project
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Forsyth County News

 

The Development Authority of Forsyth County gave its blessing Thursday to a senior housing community seeking a bond issue that would entitle it to federal tax exemption.

The authority voted 6-0 approve an inducement resolution for Improved Living-Towne Club Windermere Assisted Living, which requested $45 million in bonds.

Improved Living is a nonprofit that has a development agreement with Almquist Hansen to build Towne Club Windermere, billed as a high-end senior living facility.

Chairman Bobby Thomas explained that the authority’s approval will start the process of issuing the bonds.

“This is the first step where we say we think it’s a worthy project, and we want to induce you to come into Forsyth County,” Thomas said. “I don’t think there’s anything different about this project than any other … revenue bond project we’ve done.”

Bill Holby, counsel from King & Spalding, confirmed the process is typical for the authority, and doesn’t put it or the county at risk.

“You’re facilitating this transaction for a private borrower to access the capital markets,” Holby said. “Because it flows through the development authority, they will get tax-exempt treatment on that bond, which means the investors in those bonds will be able to get a lower interest rate.”

He said the bond will need to get final approval from the authority, the county commission and Forsyth County Superior Court.

“[The inducement resolution] simply gives them a green light to proceed with their financing transaction, and then they will come back to you for a second meeting, at which time a final approving bond resolution would be asked for consideration,” Holby said. “That’s the time you would approve the issuance of the bond.”

The authority had to first hold a public hearing, which took place following the regular meeting. No one made any comments.

The panel voted after hearing a presentation by developers on the plans for Towne Club Windermere.

Greg Almquist, CEO of Almquist Hansen, described the development as “a higher-end senior lifestyle community.”

The 178-unit building would consist of 112 independent living apartments, 40 assisted living apartments and 26 memory care beds, plus several amenities.

The rental community is slated for a nearly 14.5-acre site at the corner of Trammel Road and Windermere Parkway.

Like the existing Towne Club Peachtree City, Almquist expects most residents will be in their late 70s or early 80s.

Business partner Norm Hansen said a review of the area demographics has shown Forsyth County’s Windermere community to be a prime location.

“We’re here because of the demographics,” Hansen said. “What we’re showing you is that there’s a give-back to the community.”

Once open, Towne Club is expected to provide 150 full-time jobs, since it “operates 24/7, just like a resort hotel,” Hansen said.

The residents who move in to these communities are typically following their adult children to the area, bringing in dollars to the county, he said.

Since people will rent the housing, Hansen said, the company will pay taxes and not receive the exemption county seniors who own property enjoy.

He estimated the impact to the county tax roll to be about $300,000 annually as soon as 2.5 years after the business is opened.

Almquist Hansen, based in Kennesaw, initially came to Forsyth County last spring with a proposal for a nearly $4 million U.S. Housing and Urban Development Section 108 loan to help fund construction of Towne Club at Windermere.

The project qualified for that type of HUD loan because it would reportedly have created jobs for low-to moderate-income workers.

The developer withdrew its request to the county in December, after commissioners voted not to hold the next required public hearing, indefinitely stalling the process.