Despite some reservations from Forsyth County commissioners, a regional mall development in south Forsyth will move ahead with the construction of apartments.
Commissioners voted 4-0, with the District 2 seat vacant, at a recent work session to approve a revised final plat for TRG, the company over the Taubman development, which sits on 164 acres between Union Hill Road and McFarland Parkway.
“The plat that they’re attempting to have recorded right now would, in fact, allow a buildout of residential to include apartments, mainly apartments, but with some commercial, as well,” County Attorney Ken Jarrard said.
Taubman penned a deal with the county in 2008 for a mall, office space, hotels and residential units on the property.
Some of the projected 875 residential units have been built, but the site has not seen any of the hotels, shopping or retail spaces come out of the ground. About 330 of those units will not be built until the mall is completed.
Initially, plans called for the mall to open in 2015 but were later pushed back to 2020.
Under the agreement, the county would pay Taubman for right of way in two installments, and Taubman would repay back the funds if the terms of opening by 2020 are not met.
As part of a meeting between Taubman officials, Jarrard and Commissioners Pete Amos, District 1, and Laura Semanson, District 5, the county will hold onto the $1,287,500 for the second payment for now.
“I will tell you that at that meeting they made a promise to me and I think Commissioner Amos … that basically with respect to that second right of way payment that we have sort of been kicking the can down. They said they would agree in writing that we will simply place that on hold until such time we have something more of a bigger, comprehensive agreement,” Jarrard said.
Chairman Todd Levent has raised concerns previously about the residential portion of the development being built without the commercial. In the approval, Semanson said she voted in favor “begrudgingly.”
Jarrard told commissioners he was aware of their concerns but that it was his legal opinion that commissioners should move ahead with the agreement and there would be no further buildout or reworking of future residential units until the regional mall project was completed.
There were also concerns that the market is going away from malls and other retail.
“The fact of the matter is if you take Taubman away, every publication says the retail market is crashing,” District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills said.
“I agree with you completely,” Levent said. “The problem is we gave them a lot of apartments based on them doing retail. We wouldn’t have done that if we knew we were never going to get retail.”