During a work session on Tuesday, July 26, commissioners heard a proposal for Davidson-Forsyth, a mixed-use development in south Forsyth between Peachtree Parkway and Old Atlanta Road.
The proposed development came about after a memorandum of understanding was approved in January 2020 between the county, SCARF Forsyth Ga, LLC and Midsouth Paving Inc., which called for half of the 800-acre land to be cut from the mining operation and be used for community use. Developers such as Toll Brothers and Empire Communities both thought that a mixed-use development with retail, office and residential possibilities would fit the space well.
“It’s just really a unique opportunity to take a big, 450-acre tract of land, and the only reason it’s sitting there and left to develop is because it’s part of a quarry,” said Paul Corley, regional president at Empire Communities.
According to a previous story, Davidson-Forsyth will feature a “mix of classic, modern and mercantile styles of architecture that would give the development a variety of looks” along with “several residential styles, including townhomes and single-family detached and attached units.”
As proposed, the development will have 15 residential pocket parks, two amenities’ complexes on either side of the development, over three miles of trails, townhomes “from the 400s” and estate homes “well over one million dollars.”
Lamar Wakefield, CEO of Wakefield, Beasley & Associates, said that as a resident of south Forsyth, he has seen a lot of people cutting through traffic at Aberdeen in an effort to get from Peachtree Parkway to Old Atlanta Road and vice versa. Wakefield said that he believed this mixed-use development would help to connect the two roads with a four-lane parkway.
“This is a real chance, in my opinion, to do a really dynamite mixed-use residential community,” Wakefield said.
He that he has been working with the same developers that planned Avalon in north Fulton County, and they have been looking at other mixed-use communities across the country for inspiration.
Wakefield said that traveling and visiting different mixed-use developments has helped him measure “what felt right” and what “didn’t feel right” in terms of spacing and density. Though, he did claim that “density is your friend” if you are in the food and beverage or retail industry.
The space is also big enough for a school to be on-site, and Wakefield said that they are working to get a STEM school developed at the location.
“I think it’s moving in the right direction,” said former District 2 Commissioner Dennis Brown at a previous meeting in 2020. “I like the way it’s headed with an emphasis on high-quality design and high-quality features in every regard, building a world-class destination, if you will.”
At the work session on Tuesday, commissioners agreed that they liked the plan, and Chairwoman Cindy Jones Mills specifically pointed out the lighting.
Christopher Light with Lipscomb, Johnson, Sleister Dailey & Smith, LLP asked for the board to allow the county staff to work with the developers on the overlay plan to make sure that “everyone understands the aspects of the deal.”
District 2 Commissioner Alfred John said that the project would likely require a Development of Regional Impact, or DRI. A DRI is a term used for different land use projects that have substantial effects on the health, safety and welfare of residents in the surrounding areas.
John said that he wanted to have more meetings with the developers before initiating the DRI and moving forward, but the developers had his support.
Commissioners did not take action on the item but instead said it will appear on a future agenda.
As a parting remark, Mills again said that she liked the plans for the development and joked about the developers helping in her district.
“It [looks] great. Great job,” Mills said. “Now get to work on Coal Mountain.”