Business is on the rise in Forsyth County, and this week, local members of the community had a chance to hear from three growing areas.
On Thursday, the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce hosted a commercial real estate roundtable for members at DeKalb Office in south Forsyth featuring speakers on the update of the upcoming Halcyon development, digital updates to local Kroger stores and the growth of senior living in the county.
At the event, the chamber also hosted a demonstration of ChooseForsyth.org, a property search website with information on the local area for businesses looking at the county.
“I can see transportation, infrastructure and other data that might be relevant for me for making a location decision,” said Ron Bertasi, with GIS Web Tech, which developed the site.
Bertasi said 294 properties were listed on the site, which could be categorized by 15,000 variables.
The Halcyon Development off McFarland Parkway in south Forsyth is slated to open in March, but Patrick Leonard with RocaPoint Partners, the group developing the site, was on hand to give some construction updates on the project.
Once completed, the project will be about 2 million square feet, have about 230 homes for sale, open space, 460 apartments, two hotels, a parking deck, a movie theater, office space, a dog park and other retail.
“We are more anchored with food and entertainment,” Leonard said. “We have 10 full-service restaurants. We only have one space left. We have 10 partial-serve restaurants, such as … a coffee place.”
Leonard said one of the most popular amenities in the development already exists: the Big Creek Greenway.
“We’re connected to almost 10,000 homes that people can ride their bikes,” Leonard said. “If you look at what the [Atlanta] Beltline has done for Ponce City Market, and that’s three miles.”
He also showed attendees drone footage of the progress on the development.
Online grocery shopping
As the internet continues to reshape all businesses, even grocery stores are looking for hi-tech solutions to aid customers.
“The grocery store concept has been pretty much this way for the last hundred years,” Paul Xhajanka, southeast division real estate manager for Kroger. “You had to pick when you wanted to do grocery shopping, make your choices based on the selection, service and convenience of those locations and you would hope for the store to figure items you want.”
Xhajanka said that was changing as new stores, including some in Forsyth, offer new ways to purchase groceries online and other innovations such as grab-and-go, meal kits, grocery pick-up and delivery options.
“Our capital is going toward technology and items and services in the store,” Xhajanka said.
He said since World War II, typically the amount of food eaten in restaurants and grocery stores were similar. That changed in about 2010, when restaurants began to increase business.
“Today, you can order your food online at a restaurant. They have special parking spots you pull in and someone brings you food,” Xhajanka said.
The meal kits allow customers to buy the raw ingredients included in a pack to prepare a certain meal. Similarly, the stores also offer bins filled with certain prepared meals with meats, seafood or sides.
“Think about it this way, you have a group coming over to your house with various palates, and you just scoop up what you want, how much you want of it and take it home and prepare it and you have zero waste,” Xhajanka said.
He said the new concept stores also offer dine-in options – including pizza, chicken and barbecue – and alcohol by the drink, which was approved for the new Kroger at the intersection of Bethelview and Castleberry roads, which has many of the offerings Xhajanka brought up, was approved for earlier this year.
Xhajanka said the stores also allow online ordering in which employees will bring the food to your car and options for online delivery.
More information is available at Kroger.com.
Paul Aase, a partner with Celebration Village, an adult community in south Forsyth, spoke at the meeting about the rising need for senior housing, particularly as the baby boomers hit retirement age.
“Since 2015, 10,000 people turn 65 every day in this country, and that will continue until 2029,” Aase said. “That’s the very beginning of the baby boomer generation, and it’s going to be that way for another 18 years.”
Unlike previous generations, Aase said there is a push for more amenities by those currently going into adult communities.
“They’re very active,” Aase said. “It’s about lifestyle. It’s about fun.”
Aase said Celebration Village offers independent living, assisted living and “concierge living,” which he described as a hybrid, and offers restaurants, a bar, dining and a clubhouse among its amenities.
“They’re old, they’re not dead,” Aase joked. “They still like to have fun.”