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Proposal to expand The Collection at Forsyth aired

SOUTH FORSYTH — The county commission reviewed plans Tuesday for a proposed expansion of The Collection outdoor shopping mall in south Forsyth.

Billed as a live-work-play development similar to Alpharetta’s Avalon, the project would include shops, business space and 300 upscale one- and two-bedroom housing units, which due to their size would be attractive to the county’s growing millennial and senior populations.

“What we’re looking to do is to create a mixed-use with a 24-hour customer base with folks who are living on site, with additional office, some retail areas and also park space,” said Ethan Underwood, an attorney representing Core Property Capital, the owner of the Collection.

“We understand there is a lot pressure on the schools, so we would not be proposing any three-bedroom units. It’s to create an atmosphere that you’ve got young professionals and you’ve got empty nesters who want to walk downstairs and go to Barnes & Noble and get a cup of coffee at Starbucks.”

In the same area as the proposed housing, which would be between the Collection and Lanier Technical College’s Forsyth campus, plans call for adding greenspace and an amphitheater.

Underwood said the intention is to develop “a town green, a real assembly area, where you can have concerts and plays and special events.”

Getting the development built will present its own challenges, as the developers are hoping for an overlay district, which would allow for different regulations for the proposed housing and new stores. It also would require a change to county zoning rules.

“We’re having to draft an amendment to the unified development code to facilitate this,” Underwood said after the meeting. “So there’s not a specific process that is laid out.

“Right now, we are coming up with a concept plan. And if the board of commissioners thinks it would be worth putting out to the public, then there will be a public hearing on whether to amend the code to allow this specific development plan.”

Underwood said he and Core Property Capital have been working on the plans since 2014 and have met with nearby homeowners groups. He hopes construction can begin as soon as next summer.

“I think it’s going to take several months to get through a draft of the code,” Underwood said. “Then if there are public hearings on the matter, it will take a couple months to do those.”