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Large mixed-use project in south Forsyth gets approval

SOUTH FORSYTH — A large mixed-use development in south Forsyth that has drawn comparisons to the Avalon in nearby Alpharetta cleared the Forsyth County commission Thursday night.

The vote was 4-1 in favor, with Commissioner Todd Levent opposed, to the rezoning of 134 acres from master planned district, or MPD, and restricted industrial district, M1, to MPD on the southwest corner of Ga. 400 and McFarland Parkway.

With the approval, developer RocaPoint Partners plans to continue its building of what used to be called Diversified, a project approved a couple of years ago.

The new plans call for 92 residential lots, 168 attached residential lots and 430 apartment homes, along with 456,500 square feet of retail, office, restaurant and hotel space with 2,041 parking spaces.

The development, which will now be known as Parterre on Big Creek, will reportedly be geared toward empty-nesters and millennials by not having more than two bedrooms per unit.

A Forsyth County Schools’ zoning impact statement predicted the development would bring an additional 239 elementary school students and 127 middle- and 150 high-schoolers.

Opponents who spoke during the meeting pushed to lower the total number of units to 495, which would have been a nearly 200-unit decrease from what was approved.

“What [that would do] is it creates a better parity, a better match in terms of commercial versus residential with this property,” said Stacy Guy of the nearby Shiloh Farms Homeowners Association.

“If you want it to compete against an Avalon or similar type of mixed-use development, it needs to have a bigger commercial density compared to residential density.”

During a meeting last month of Forsyth County’s planning board, where the proposal passed 4-1, the developer said he hopes to break ground in 2016 with the first move-ins in 2017.

The Parterre on Big Creek proposal has been billed as creating a “signature gateway village project.” It will have immediate access to the Big Creek Greenway and nearly a mile of frontage along the creek.

Renderings show a town center as focal point to a pedestrian-friendly community targeted mainly at seniors and millennials.

Bike paths and walking trails appear throughout the property, with a roundabout on Ronald Reagan to give easy access to both sides of the project, which the road splits.

The developer is under contract for two hotels, he said, one of which would be high-end suites.

The site is just north of what is known as the Taubman project. Also billed as an upscale live-work-play community, Taubman sits on 164 acres between Union Hill Road and McFarland Parkway.

Some of the projected 875 residential units for Taubman have been built, but the site has not seen any of the hotels, shopping or retail spaces proposed when it was approved nearly eight years ago.