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Work begins on large mixed-use project in south Forsyth

SOUTH FORSYTH — What is being billed as the county’s first live-work-play community broke ground Friday in south Forsyth.

Local officials attended the ceremony for Halcyon, a $370 million mixed-use development that has drawn comparisons to the Avalon in nearby Alpharetta.

The project will sit on about 130 acres at McFarland and Ronald Reagan parkways, just off Ga. 400. County Commission Chairman Pete Amos predicted the development will “bring Exit 12 to life.”

“This property sat dormant for ... six years, and then [developer] RocaPoint and Halcyon came along and revitalized this whole area,” Amos said. “We look forward to having a real live-work-play community in our county for the first time. Especially, we like the tax base this will bring to our county, we look forward to that.”

The first phase of the development, expected to open in fall 2017, will feature 87 single-family units, 155 town homes and 448 luxury apartments. They will go along with 125,000 square feet of retail space, 65,000 square feet of loft offices and “built-to-suit spaces,” as well as a hotel with 110 rooms.

There are plans for the development to eventually add a second hotel, and reach more than 360,000 square feet of office and retail space.

More than 3,600 residents are projected to live within a half mile of the planned commercial village.

Plans also call for more than 50 acres of community green space, two miles of nature trails, a 4-acre natural open space and an eventual link to the nearby Big Creek Greenway.

“The trail coming into here — biking, hiking, walking, getting outside, the whole community — is designed around getting outside and really integrated into an active lifestyle,” said Patrick Leonard, a principal with RocaPoint Partners.

After naming several quality-of-life aspects in which Forsyth County ranks at or near the top, County Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills echoed Amos’ remarks about the financial benefits of the development.

“You can’t have the best of everything and maintain that without projects like this. You can’t have the lowest taxes if you don’t have money coming in,” she said.

“We will be able to build more parks, because it costs so much money and we’ll be able to extend more trails … and we’ll be able to build more libraries and build more roads.”

James McCoy, president of the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce, told the gathering to be mindful of the historical implications.

“There are a handful of communities and developments that have come to Forsyth County over the last 25, 30 years that you can point to and say, ‘Gosh that really did change the expectations of our community,’” he said.

“I’ve often wondered at events like this, for those communities, their groundbreakings, did anyone really realize that? So I hope everyone here realizes this is an important moment.”