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The Collection at Forsyth expansion clears planning board

SOUTH FORSYTH — Forsyth County’s planning board voted Tuesday to recommend approval of a proposed overlay district that would allow the expansion of The Collection at Forsyth into a mixed-used development with on-site apartments and additional live-work-play space.

The decision came after the panel had postponed the matter last month to give involved parties more time to work out some kinks.

If approved by the county commission after it holds a public hearing on the proposal, the South Forsyth Lifestyle Center Overlay District would initiate 309 one- and two-bedroom apartments geared toward the county’s growing millennial and senior populations.

Also included would be an outdoor amphitheater, open space and additional office/commercial/retail/restaurant space.

Tom Brown, director of planning and community development for the county, said an overlay is established by a change to the unified development code to create a “unique set of land requirements.”

This overlay was sought after by the owner of The Collection, Core Property Capital, who bought the outdoor shopping center on Peachtree Parkway (Hwy. 141) and Ronald Reagan Boulevard three years ago.

Core Property Capital, which also owns Tower Walk in Atlanta and The Forum at Peachtree Parkway in Norcross, has said the goal of bringing community space and residential units to The Collection will increase its attractiveness to buyers and travelers.

A rezoning category does not exist for the desired density of six units per acre, which would be applied to the entire 63-acre overlay, including both new and existing development.

There has been no rezoning category for this density since the county placed a moratorium on Res-6 zonings, the county’s highest-density category.

Ethan Underwood, an attorney representing Core Property Capital, said the company’s plan is different than other mixed-use developments in Forsyth that have stirred concerns of the residential being built out first and the commercial possibly never breaking ground.

In this case, the commercial component exists, Underwood said.

Representatives of several established businesses in The Collection — Sweet and Sassy, The Joint Chiropractic and Fairfield Inn & Suites — spoke in favor of the overlay, saying on-site homes would enhance the mall and bring more money to the county.

The planning board voted 3-1 for the proposal, with District 3’s Greg Dolezal opposed and District 4’s Alan Neal recused due a conflict of interests in that his firm provides design services for Core Property Capital.

The board did, however, designate a condition that county commissioners ask the planning staff to create a staff review and recommendation as they usually would for a typical rezoning application.