City Manager Brian Johnson joins Rico Figliolini to discuss a possible Micro mobility Transit Hub, e-scooters, LG – MRI, Special Service Districts and updates on the pedestrian bridge, the Indigo Hotel, license plate recognition cameras and more. Recorded at Atlanta Tech Park in the City of Peachtree Corners, Georgia
“A lot of what that is driving that lately tends to be around Curiosity Lab as we know it’s serving the very purpose that it was created to serve, which is to become a magnet for companies… But a lot of what we’re doing in the economic development arena is taking the Curiosity Labs environment that we’ve created and talked to companies about how they can use it”Brian Johnson
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:42] – LG Tele-scooters
[00:16:39] – LG MRI
[00:23:19] – License Plate Recognition Cameras
[00:40:22] – Redevelopment Authority
[00:44:03] – Pedestrian Bridge
[00:46:22] – Indigo Hotel
[00:47:17] – Fiserv Property
[00:47:31] – Peachtree Corners Festival
[00:48:44] – Workforce Housing
[00:51:40] – Closing
Rico: [00:00:30] Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life and this show once a month with Brian Johnson, the City Manager. It’s Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager. Hey, Brian.
Brian: [00:00:39] How are you?
Rico: [00:00:40] Good. Good. It’s been awhile. We’re going to go through, let me, let me talk about my friends though. Our lead sponsor. So my friends had Hargray Fiber. They just became a lead sponsor, and I want to tell you a little bit about them. They are a company that is not unique in the space, but provides unique solutions. So they are a fiber company business to business. Just moved into Peachtree Corners that based out of Savannah and Hilton. They craft customized solutions for hundreds of businesses throughout the Southeast. They are working with small businesses to provide affordable bundled services and enterprise level businesses that are looking for a full suite of managed IT services. So Hargray Fiber can customize those solutions to work best depending on what your company and your industry needs. So an amount of that industry, Internet, high quality TV, phone solutions. They’re the ones to do it. They have a local presence. You don’t have to worry about the cable guy. They will be there and they are community friendly and they are doing lots of outreach to the city of Peachtree Corners.
Brian: [00:01:46] I’ll just say, let me add one more thing. Hargray not only has their office in Tech Park. But they are the fiber provider, the official fiber provider of Curiosity Lab. So if you think of all the technology that we have, or we’ll be talking about and Curiosity Lab, be it 5G. Which, you know, people are like, wait a second, 5G is wireless. Well, the wireless, the 5G antennas that spit the wireless signal out have to be powered by something and they’re powered by a fiber line and it’s Hargray, the backbone of Curiosity Lab. All the technology, the backbone of it is the fiber line that Hargray provided. So it would, it literally, none of it could work without a fiber optic cable that Hargray provided is, wouldn’t be working. So they’re a key part of Curiosity Lab.
Rico: [00:02:42] Excellent. And if you want to find out more about Hargray, just go to HargrayFiber.com. That’s HargrayFiber.com. And we’re on, we’re in Atlanta Tech Park and this podcast studio is here at, which is in Tech Park, Atlanta on the road of Curiosity Lab that went on the test track. So this is cool. In the midst of this, we’re going to be talking about a lot of things going on, high tech and and also keep an eye out for Peachtree Corners Magazine. Our next, this should be out in another week or so. And we have a cover story on companies here on Peachtree Corners, innovative technology driven, and a big part of this community. So, we’ve been, I think, it’s been about a month maybe that we have, haven’t spoken since. I mean, you’re on the show on the podcast. So there’s lots going on. And guess what, we were talking ahead of the show about something going on there. Reminds me of Bladerunner, for some reason. It’s just the technology to be able to see the big images of things on, in the public realm and public streets and stuff. Tell us what’s going on with the Tele-scooters with LG specifically that you met with, that’s going to be out there that people can see.
Brian: [00:03:58] Well, you know, part of any city’s operation is economic development. You’re always wanting to make sure that, you know, the businesses you have are healthy or attract new business. And so you, you know, cities do that. We do that. A lot of what that is driving that lately tends to be around Curiosity Lab as we know it’s serving the very purpose that it was created to serve, which is to become a magnet for companies to either come to Peachtree Corners on a temporary basis, you know, even for the day to use or, or tour or whatever. And you know, we at least know that if they’re here for one day, they got to eat lunch and they’re going to eat in our restaurants. And you know, just a couple of days in our, our, hotels, we’ll get, you know, the indirect benefit of revenue from them. But a lot of what we’re doing in the economic development arena is taking the Curiosity Labs environment that we’ve created and talking to companies about how they can use it. And we’re getting ready to unveil the next very unique user of Curiosity Lab, which is the tele-operated E-Scooter. And so…
Rico: [00:05:14] Which is available now, actually even, right?
Brian: [00:05:16] No, not quite. Not quite. You may have seen them out there, the company getting ready to, to task, but the way it’ll work is we all know what an E-scooter is. A lot of controversy lately about E-scooters in cities. Especially in Atlanta, where you’ve had two things that have created problems. One, of course, is the users of the scooters, not obeying traffic laws or being cavalier. Too fast on sidewalks when they shouldn’t have been on sidewalks at all. Or I’m trying to zip in between automobiles and they get hit by, you know, so the, unfortunately, unlike the drivers of automobiles, irresponsible drivers, you can’t. You can never overcome. But the other aspect of E-scooters that are frustrating is the fact that people will leave them wherever they want. And the difficulty and the overhead costs of the company that owns a scooter, repositioning them for more people makes it difficult. And it frustrates people when you’re walking down the sidewalk and there’s, you know, 12 E-scooters all over the. Well, the company and it’s two companies that joined forces for this that are going to be testing a way to maybe address that issue is. We’re going to have tele operated E-scooters. And those are E-scooters, like you could buy from, you know, whatever, you know, sporting goods store or whatever. And they have been retrofitted with a kit that adds two little training wheels to the back so that they can stand on their own. Because most of them are just, you know, two wheels so they can stand on their own and a camera on the front stem and when necessary, the E-scooter can be driven by a human from a remote location via the camera that the, that they’re viewing through the, so in this case, the company has a tele operation center in Mexico city, and so they’re going to have, it’s almost like a call center. Where you got people sitting at stations and when it’s time for the E-scooter to be activated, you know, from a distance, they can then have the screen go live. The consumer takeover and drive the East scooter and how that’s gonna work is they’re going to look at the scalability of doing this for two reasons. One, you can summon the scooter, like an Uber or Lyft. And so they’re going to have an app that if you want to do it for, if you work in Tech Park or you want to do it just for novelty sake, you can have the scooter come to you. And then you jump on it and you drive it like any other scooter. That’s one. And the other one is, is they’re going to, the companies go into look into whether or not on a
large scale by large scale, they’ll get up to about a hundred E-scooters, but no more than that. They’ll see if they can reposition the E-scooters from that Mexico city location using tele operation and not have to get up truck and two guys driving all these locations.
Rico: [00:08:52] Which is a big economy in Atlanta cause that’s what they’re doing in Atlanta.
Brian: [00:08:55] That’s correct. That’s what they have to do everywhere because what other way would they reposition them?
Rico: [00:09:00] So 5G actually helps it because there’s no latency, really, or very minimal?
Brian: [00:09:06] I think so. Yeah. For all intents and purposes, none for that. So that’ll help. And then they’re also testing, because you know, 5G will take a while for it to get their testing. The ability to transition from 4G LTE to 5G and back and forth. And then, so they get to test that out. And then what you refer to at the beginning is this got back from talking with a local company called LG MRI, which makes LG exterior televisions screens, whether in, it could be touch-screens or, or what, but they make it specifically for the outdoors. And we are talking about maybe partnering or, or having a collaborative effort between a number of companies. In the case of LG MRI, they would provide touch-screen televisions at the bus stop and we would also integrate this kind of micro mobility transit hub. It would be a bus stop, a real world bus stop that Gwinnett Transit…
Rico: [00:10:12] That already exists.
Brian: [00:10:13] Gwinnett County transit has, exists. Who would have the, you know, the bus stop shelter cover would have solar panels and those solar panels would provide the electricity for the LG screens and we’re going to integrate a docking station for the E-scooters into this. And so you could invariably ride the bus to this spot and then jump on the E-scooter to do that last couple hundred yards or whatever to your office, or vice versa. When it’s time to go home, if you’re going to go home via bus, and this is like real world buses isn’t like a, you know, coming to people testing, this is a, yeah, but, and these scooters are going to be available to the public.
Rico: [00:11:05] Anyone that’s within technology park?
Brian: [00:11:07] Well, no, you can come over here and just use it for novelty if you want, but I’m just saying, you know, you can actually get on and so, but let’s say you work in Tech Park. I mean, you could some in the E-scooter to your office through an app, through an app. It gets there. You jump on it, you ride it to the bus stop. You put it in the docking station and then when the bus comes, you get on the bus while you’re waiting, you can either see at, you can use the interactive kiosk, you could find out how far away the bus is, you can do all sorts of things.
Rico: [00:11:40] That might be cool to be able to see real live, 10 minutes away. And then also it’s going to be able to play probably commercials or all the things in big huge screens and stuff. That’s the part that reminded me about Bladerunner for some reason.
Brian: [00:11:56] And you know, this kind of stuff, these companies want to, you know, be involved in creating, you know, call it the bus stop in the future. We have all these things together, you know, inside these screens and these television, exterior television screens, the LG MRI, people call it their chassis, but it’s got a container basically. That houses all the components inside and it’s completely watertight and it also cools the interior components.
Rico: [00:12:30] So even if it’s a hundred degrees outside.
Brian: [00:12:31] Even if it’s a hundred degrees, it’s good, but it also has the capability of adding third party devices inside the box. To provide lots of things outside of this one box, including like DSRC roadside units, 5G small cell antennas, wireless access points. All inside of this box and the television that it will, the entire, you know, kind of all in one module also has edge computing. So it actually can compute certain things. It has a degree of artificial intelligence and computation ability at that location versus having to go, you know, somewhere to some brain somewhere else and come back. And so it could, so these companies are loving this sandbox we’ve created. For them to come play. And so we’re kind of like being a, to a degree, a, a matchmaker, you know, we’re, we’re talking to, Hey, they’re doing this and what about you doing this? And we’re kind of like the matchmaker that owns the house and we’re like, you know, or owns a restaurant. We’re like, why don’t you two get together and you can come to our restaurant and have your date where we’re telling them we got some property here. No, he’s saying to come here, we’ll kind of facilitate. We’ll let you tie into certain things.
Rico: [00:13:51] And you know, it’s a cool, it’s almost like I could almost see at some point, you know, asking Gianna, or Emma, what’s the temperature now and how far is that bus? It’ll answer that.
Brian: [00:14:00] Yes, yes, they have that. So, you know, here’s some interesting stuff. So these units, when we were talking to them, they have deployed these units recently at the entry points. To Taylor Swift concerts. And what they’ve done is the screens have been displaying imagery that’s of some interest to people going there. And inside the box is facial recognition software. And when people are looking at the image, it will take and get us a snapshot of their face. And it scrubs that against databases that I guess the Taylor Swift security team has for people who are on, kind of call it a watch list for her like that. Then there’s a restraining order against them because they’ve been stalking her. They’ve made comments on social media sites about her. They’ve been, and so these celebrities have people that do that, and so they’ve been able to identify people who have posed or have a high potential, suppose a threat to her. So that helps them. Sure. It’s being done on a private, private venues. So there’s not this whole, you don’t have any, you know, they voluntarily went to this for.
Rico: [00:15:30] Sure. It’s not a public thing.
Brian: [00:15:31] No, it is not a public, they buy a ticket. And they know. Right. And so I’m at a private, you know, concert venue. But then the security team knows, and I actually don’t know what was done about it. It could have been, they just kept an eye on him. It could’ve been that they were asked to leave because of, you know, I know that the team, you know, the, the, the company that provided this housing, this chassis for all this technology did say that, you know. They, it identified some people who there was a restraining order against, because they had been convicted of stalking. So maybe there’s those rests leave. But anyway, the other interesting thing is the concert venue insurance requirement.
Rico: [00:16:15] Did that go down?
Brian: [00:16:16] Went down because the insurance company was like, you know what? You are minimizing risks for things, so you don’t have to have as many. But the unique part of this is this, is technology that’s housed in one water tight, secure unit, and it’s using multiple things at the same time to further.
Rico: I mean, just interested in the, you know, at home, if you have an alarm system, of course your home insurance will be discounted. So similar. And it also introduces, I mean, this is great. I mean, I’m, I’m all for this, certain people are like afraid of the technology to a degree. And there is even talk, I don’t know if this is, I think this is in England, Europe at this point. But you may come across the ocean to us to talk about moratorium and facial recognition, recognition videos because of in the public realm, in the public space. Because of privacy concerns and stuff. And I know, you know, so our next and next thing, and this is cool, so that was the LG MRI?
Brian: [00:17:20] Yup.
Rico: [00:17:20] So people can Google that and find out more.
Brian: [00:17:23] Yeah. I mean their, their manufacturing plant. Fascinating. They had just asked us to come over and meet and they wanted us to show the, show us their site too, but they are going to have, they also are interested in hanging digital, digital screens on the side of light poles like you see out here now that are the banners, they make, ones that you can have digital. So you can have all sorts of messaging on that and it’s not the same thing. So yes, it is. So they’re going to do that stuff. So today was, they were like, we’re going to do something where can we put things as we told them, here are the areas of our sandbox. You can do things. And so we’re going to have another meeting in a week or two where they’re going to come back and say, we would like to do things here, here.
Rico: [00:18:15] That’s amazing, I bet you didn’t even think about that. This and that at this point.
Brian: [00:18:18] There’s so much of this that I didn’t even know. I mean, some of it’s really cool, like, wow, you know, I didn’t realize that technology is here. Some of it is in technology that I thought was farther along than it is. It’s represented that it is, but when you get into it, it’s not quite as, so I’ve had both, but yes, I mean, so just unique things that can be done in a, in a, you know, using technology, especially when you pair a bunch of them together.
Rico: [00:18:47] The, so let’s, let’s go into, because. This past Tuesday, city council meeting, a few things went on that LG MRI that was really all support allowed because of what you passed just recently. The micro mobility, a piece of it.
Brian: [00:19:02] Yes. So for us to have E-scooters operated on, because currently E-scooters, haven’t really been addressed by the city much. It was addressed in our entertainment district ordinance in it for it prohibited E-scooters, essentially in our entertainment district, which is our town center and kind of that area. Other than that it’s not addressed. So theoretically, you know, somebody could go buy one and go out there, but we had to address it in some way. But because this is a pilot program, it’s testing or whatever. What we did is we created the programs similar to kind of how we regulate other activity within our right of way. Like if a telecommunications company wanted to come in and do work in our rideaway, like very cable, we have to give them a permit to do that. We did the same with the E-scooter, created one for a scooter so that they can have, that can be the activity that they are involved in in our right of way.
Rico: [00:20:09] Is that a sunset rule also?
Brian: [00:20:11] It is. So it set a couple of things. One is initially it’s just a curiosity lab. Two, it is a year long pilot program. Three, it has to be geo-fenced. So there has to be, the technological capability of having the E-scooter shutdown if it gets outside of a previously defined area. So if you tried to drive it up to the town center, at a certain point it was shut down. Similar for the golfers out there, sometimes you get on a golf cart has GPS and you’re supposed to be cart path only and you get off the car path, often times it’ll shut down or it’ll go real, real slow until you go back. And so similar. And then we also require this permit. Requires the E-scooter operator to have tele operation capability. And because E-scooters in general don’t need to be tested, I mean they work, right? This is the test part. The reason there’s a lab that’s needed is because of that tele operation. So we’ll start on that and if it works out, we can always expand the boundaries a little bit. Would love to create a scenario in which you could have E-scooters go from the thousand plus hotel rooms we have at the south end of Curiosity Lab between the Hilton, the Marriott was a Homewood suites in Hampton and the town center for that. I mean that’s, there’s a, that’s a need base between the two, especially Sunday or Thursday night,
Rico: [00:21:48] 141 because those sidewalks.
Brian: [00:21:50] Potentially, I mean, state law, there are some, there’s a lot of in the, in the Georgia General Assembly. Is currently considering legislation on defining certain aspects of
E-scooters. So we’re keeping an eye on that and made reference to our permit, would permit it would have to adhere to all state and local laws on E- scooter. So if that tweaks things, you know here soon because the General Assembly did something. But anyway, that’s kind of how it will operate. But they’ll get ultimately up to a hundred scooters and they are available to the public as just like any other e-scooter. Well, I don’t know if it’s free. They may end up having a slight, okay. They might, we’ve encouraged it not to since it’s a pilot, but that’s not our decision. So we don’t know that yet. But yeah, but. If you do get on it, you know it. It’s, it’s an off the shelf E-scooter that they’ve nearly outfitted with a camera on the front stem, training wheels on the back, which as an operator of it, you don’t deploy, they deploy it remotely. So it’s just like any other ones. If somebody’s been on a bird or a lime or do the same thing, it’s just that when you’re off of it, the company may on its own decide to move it somewhere else.
Rico: [00:23:19] So we were talking a little bit about the micro movability part and stuff like that too. So there’s gonna, you also discussed the, license recognition, facial recognition. cameras that are going to be deployed. So did that come to fruition did the city council decide on a plan on how that’s going to happen?
Brian: [00:23:39] So at the council meeting, we had the first read of the final bill. Final vote will be at the February council meeting, but the council had the first read of an ordinance creating the, or it’s really activating the city’s ability to create what are called special service districts. What that is, is, home rule municipalities in Georgia have the authority to create a special service district and they can define the district how they essentially see fit. And inside this district, there can be unique things that happen inside this, just this district for a specific service. An example of that would be you could create a special service district for public safety, and you could do things inside of this special district that were specifically aimed at improving public safety. So doing things like installing video and license plate recognition cameras, installing streetlights, those are things that improve public safety. That special district can have unique things about it. For instance, it could, council could say, install a bunch of streetlights on a street that was dark, that was not a connector street, one that did not serve a true public purpose. So a neighborhood street that maybe was a residential street that had houses on it, and a dead end. But the mayor, if it had problems there, the city could install streetlights on the street and then take the pro rata share of the cost of the streetlight and equally distribute it amongst all the homes that benefit from the surface or all the apartments, as the case may be the apartment units.
Rico: [00:25:47] So now volunteering to be part of that if someone wants to, if a subdivision wants to be part of that and volunteer, you guys have set up percentages or ways to do that?
Brian: [00:25:58] Yes. So, and you know, you’re referring to the fact we’ve talked about before, that this ability to create a special service district gives counsel the ability to determine what threshold that would be required before they did it. We can start with kind of the fact that council can impose it.
Rico: [00:26:19] Wow. Okay.
Brian: [00:26:20] If it against, in other words, that it doesn’t have to be a threshold. They have that authority. I’m not saying they will, but they can’t. And then I will give you examples of that where they may one day. Yes. An apartment complex that has a crime problem. That has been, you know, there’s been some issues or whatever. They can decide, you know what, you don’t have enough street lighting, so we’re going to put street lights in there.
Rico: [00:26:47] Even though it’s internal, internal to that apartment complex.
Brian: [00:26:52] Well, as long as the city streets are public, you know, you could do it in there. If they’re private, private streets, internal to that could, but the council could put it at the entrance.
Rico: [00:27:02] Okay. But with them, because apartment complexes have their own streets and driveways.
Brian: [00:27:07] If it’s truly private. Some of them are public still. There’s a lot of neighborhoods and having, you can look at them as interior streets, but they’re really the city.
Rico: [00:27:13] Well, for sure. If the city’s going to pay them. They’re public streets.
Brian: [00:27:16] Correct. I promise you that we’re not paving streets that are not, most streets in the city are, are public. There are very few that are not in there. Very, very few that are private that are not behind a gate. Very few. There’s only a handful of apartment complexes that have a labyrinth of streets interior that are not public.
Rico: [00:27:37] And they pay for their own.
Brian: [00:27:38] And they pay their own, and most of them, maybe all of them are behind the gate. Then they’re private.
Rico: [00:27:44] But inside that gate on the public street.
Brian: [00:27:47] The city could do a number of things. It could light it up, you know, prior to that. But a good example, you know, but so the streetlight one, say there’s apartment that a city streets and the city didn’t feel like there was enough lights. He could do that and then put it on the property owner. The landlord to pay it. You know? I’m sorry, your crime rate is too high. It’s unacceptable. We think one of the things that would improve public safety is better. Lighting cause there’s been maybe, you know, problems in the parking lot at night or whatever and we’re going to do that. Or another one would be in, this could even apply to an apartment complex that has a gate. And so the interior streets are, but there’s a lot of criminal activity coming and going. The city could decide to put a camera at the entrance so that all the cars coming and going got picked up by that camera. And it could create a special service district around that
area and in that district, they can charge the property owners for that camera because it’s a Public safety.
Rico: [00:28:48] So what’s a threshold to volunteering?
Brian: [00:28:50] All right, so volunteering, that’s where council probably between now and February, make the final decision cause it’s only had the first raise, but they’re really leaning towards probably a 70% threshold. I think, you know, the 50% plus one, they kind of feel like that’s, you know, just too close. And they, most of these, they feel like, look, you ought to have a super majority for us to, for them to feel kind of like, ah, you know, this is good. And so there, there will be an option here for a community to ask the city to do something because it’s unable to do it itself. And that so they could exercise a referendum kind of component.
Rico: [00:29:45] Which is to become a special district?
Brian: [00:29:47] Right? For a particular purpose. And so there’s really three things, three services as we envision it. There could be more in the future, but really three that may be a service that results from these districts. One is the camera, video camera, license plate recognition to a streetlights, and three, your speed bumps or traffic control devices. Speedball bobs or speed humps, as the case may be are usually the one that cities don’t like to just put it in because it affects a lot of people. We tend to want to have a lot of buy in from the community, if, if to put it. So those are ones that we envision being a service that we, the city can provide either voluntarily, where a community comes to the city and says, here’s proof. You know, we did a referendum, and here’s proof that 70% of the property owners want it. Or the city could decide to do it because it’s just, there’s too much problems for whatever reason. There’s too much speeding and, but, but the local, the local residents, and we have this in a couple of places where the local residents can never get enough property owners because they’re renters and the owners live out of state and they don’t want to. So it can be one where the city council just decides, you know what, it needs it. We’re just going to do it.
Rico: [00:31:16] But the city council has to vote.
Brian: [00:31:18] Oh yeah. City council has to vote.
Rico: [00:31:18] It’s not like some regular department decides.
Brian: [00:31:22] No the city, no.
Rico: [00:31:24] Okay. So like a special use permit. Does it go through planning commission or is it straight to say?
Brian: [00:31:27] Oh no, I don’t. I think it’s straight to city council on those because, yeah, I mean, it’s really not a land use really how it operates.
Rico: [00:31:36] So the cameras are really license plate recognition, not facial recognition.
Brian: [00:31:40] Well, no, there won’t be any facial recognition on this.
Rico: [00:31:43] And like we discussed before, this is really stored for a certain period of time. No one can see it or use it unless there’s a crime or something pursuant to it.
Brian: [00:31:53] the, the way that it will work that we envision it a work is, and there’s one other way that you can end up having this happen in that is they’re considering, homeowners associations that uniquely fit a unique, qualification. And that is really, essentially, they have officers that have been elected and they own property that can receive a, that, that receives a property tax bill. Because if that, if they meet that threshold, they could request a camera. Like at the entrance to a subdivision that the HOA owns, and then the city can build that HOA through it’s property tax bill nature way. Then can take a vote and officially ask for the city to install a camera.
Rico: [00:32:47] I’m just curious because can they request the probe one near the swimming tennis, for example? Within the subdivision.
Brian: [00:32:55] If the city owns property. If you could put it in the public right of way, so it’s not a private street. And the HOA gets a property tax bill, then yes. Invariably there could be a yes, put it here. And so all that being said is you are bringing up, so the way that mayor and council are envisioning the way that I ultimately proposed is when these cameras go in. If there’s a request and all the things, the city is not going to end up having access to the data ever. It is going straight to the cloud in Gwinnett County PD. And the cloud access by gonna County PD. And the only way Gwinnett County PD access is it is if there’s a police report filed.
Rico: [00:33:56] Not even for that it recognizes a plate that may be.
Brian: [00:34:00] No, that would be automatic. I’m sorry. So yeah, you’re referring to when Gwinnett County, sometime in 2020 will have that special division that’s stood up. Our license plate recognition cameras will then communicate directly with Gwinnett PD. And if a license plate that it takes a photo of comes up hot. That there’s a warrant for that vehicle. For some reason it was reported stolen. It’s an Amber alert or really invariably, what most of them come up hot for is no insurance or expired tags. But that’ll automatically go to Gwinnett PD. And Gwinnett PD will make a case by case decision on whether the license plate coming up hot is worthy of moving assets around specific to it. But we do know, having talked to other communities who have just put this in place that, you know, with like the insurance and expired tag stuff, it was just to me, is not gonna end up in variably having anybody do anything different. But you could get like an Amber alert would be a good one. They will immediately deploy assets upstream of the direction of travel of that vehicle, at least where the direction of travel, when they got the photos.
Rico: [00:35:19] Because it’s real time, it’s getting out there.
Brian: [00:35:21] It is real time that’ll happen. But when it comes to you, even that photo, well not be accessed by anybody other than Gwinnett County PD. So a photo was taken and they may send a message, but every photo, every license plate photo is taken here and will go to the cloud. And it’ll sit there. I want to say it’s 30 days. It’s written over. So the storage is only for 30 days worth. And then day 31 starts recording over the very first day in that. But the video and the photos of the license plate are going to a PD. The city will never have access to it. And if somebody wants historical imagery or video from that, they’ve got to file a police report. And the reason to do that is just to avoid the, you know. Not to say that I wouldn’t want to do this, but, you know, say my daughter, you know, when she grew up was, you know, snuck out or whatever, and you know, you wanted to find out who, you know, came back, things like that. But it just, it’s so ripe for abuse on those kinds of things. So mayor council, and that’s his staff’s decision. It was just like, you know what? We’re not in it. It goes directly to the cloud. And it stored for that period of time before turret. And if somebody files a police report, they get through good PD access, and then Gwinnett PD can come in and they can use it to investigate. But we’re not in it.
Rico: [00:36:49] And I think the way you set it up, you know, no one can really argue too much about that as far as privacy goes, because the only access point would be if there was a crime. And that’s…
Brian: [00:36:59] Well, it’s gotta be something worthy of a current, a police report.
Rico: [00:37:02] Correct. And that’s reasonable. I don’t see anything wrong with that. You know, facial recognition in a variety of ways could be an issue at some point. But, but not that.
Brian: [00:37:11] And these do not have that. None of these have nothing capabilities of those, we’re not getting any cameras that have facial recognition.
Rico: [00:37:18] So there’s not even a capability to upgrade.
Brian: [00:37:21] Not the cameras that at the camp we’re getting. These are Georgia power. These are cameras do a Georgia power program called site view. So this isn’t like fly by night or this isn’t, this is a program they have created and they hang these cameras. And the reason they did this is because they can generate money. They hang these cameras on their light poles or trap or their utility poles. So there’s already power there, right? And we don’t buy the cameras. We actually lease the cameras monthly. And so monthly we pay it. But what we get for the monthly cost is it’s an all inclusive. We don’t have to do anything. We never had to pay up front for the camera. We don’t pay for the cloud storage. We don’t pay for the electricity. And if it breaks, we don’t pay to have it repaired.
Rico: [00:38:14] You’re just paying a leasing fee.
Brian: [00:38:16] Right. And it’s how our streetlights currently exist. And so it’s a pretty common, but so this isn’t like self love, but this is Georgia power, a public service commission, regulated utility. But no, it doesn’t do facial recognition. And I will tell you, if it did, the amount of storage that you would have to have and the amount of edge computing you would have to have for there to be. Analysis done, and a database to pull facial imagery to enter the store is, is not even.
Rico: [00:38:52] It’s different from being able to use an assistant like that to count bodies.
Brian: [00:38:57] That’s correct. So it’s not, we have that capability at the town green. They just count. All it can do is differentiate between a human and a vehicle. So it’s counting people. That’s why when you know, I say there’s a, there’s any, and even then there’s a little bit, because it doesn’t know enough to not count you twice over really, right. I mean, but on a concert, we can kind of take snapshots of how many are there at a time.
Rico: [00:39:23] Non moving. Okay.
Brian: [00:39:25] So the, we can kind of get a pretty good idea of how many people in there, but if we had it like say at the, I don’t know, a door of a restaurant or the restrooms or whatever. You know, if you’re in and out, in and out, it would count you all the time. So you have to still, but no, we don’t have, again, it takes a lot of, takes a lot of juice. To make that to where it’s really working cause you got to be pulling from a database because to recognize your face, it has to have your face somewhere. Then it’s got to have the ability to take a photo and then pull distinct marks like a fingerprint, and then it’s got to be constantly scrubbing the face image that you just came on there against, God only knows how many images out there and oh by the way, it’s taking photos, all these new ones doing it. It’s just that a lot, it’s out there. The technology is out there. But we don’t have anything close to that, at all.
Rico: [00:40:22] Okay, cool. Let’s, let’s move on a little bit to, cause we’re getting towards our time a little bit, but I want to touch on a few other things. The redevelopment authority, you’re doing a plan for that, right? But you said would take about 12 weeks, you’d think three months we have to pull it together.
Brian: [00:40:40] So the State statute that allows cities to create redevelopment authorities, has some requirements in it. And mayor and council have made the decision that we’re going to create a redevelopment authority. I’m going to start concentrating on some of the redevelopment needs and opportunities in the city. You know, by redevelopment. It’s really, you know, taking a parcel that has been developed in one way, shape, or form at one point in time, we don’t have a lot of vacant stuff, so most of it’s still operating, but sometimes it’s just not quite as great of a use as we would like or whatever. And so redevelopment opportunities and redevelopment authorities have certain tools at their disposal that the city government itself
does not. Very similar to ride downtown development authority, which we have and has own property, has entered into an agreement, has incurred debt, and so it has a lot of the same powers. Although you know most of this stuff as anything in life goes, you know, the oil that makes activity work as money. You know, so these authorities need money. It’s usually the city having to appropriate money to them, but the redevelopment authority does have certain tools like access to grants that the city doesn’t have. It does it directly, and it can, it can negotiate a sole source without having to bid it out in something. By law having to go to the low bidder. Sometimes a little bidder is not the best one.
Rico: [00:42:18] For sure though.
Brian: [00:42:19] But the city doesn’t have a choice. They do. But anyway, this state statute laying out all of the requirements for redevelopment authority exists require that there be a redevelopment plan that is in place before you create the redevelopment authority, because redevelopment authority will be created to execute the redevelopment plan. And maybe amend it, but that’s the original plan is and so we have to start with doing a redevelopment plan. So council is, you know, we set the wheels in motion. We have, we interviewed firms and we selected a firm and they’re going to start on the redevelopment plan. Given the history of us collecting and organizing, compiling data in certain things that are necessary for a redevelopment plan. We’re actually a lot farther along than we thought, so it’ll only be about 12 weeks or a full blown one to be done, including some public meetings. That will be advertising to come in and hear about, you know, where the plan is, and you know, the plan will have everything from areas that should be part of the redevelopment effort. It doesn’t have to be, it probably doesn’t. It probably won’t be all of the city. It’ll be targeted areas for targeted reasons, and so there’ll be some public opportunities for people to weigh in. And I’m at a certain point, council will approve that plan and then turn around and immediately start populating the redevelopment authority and get it populated, and then they’ll adopt their bylaws and a way they go.
Rico: [00:44:03] Right. A lot going on there. So I wanna also hit on a few things quickly because we don’t have that much time but I want to be able to sort of get an update, let’s say. Pedestrian bridge. I see the pillars going up. How far along are we really?
Brian: [00:44:18] I mean, you know, we have issued the order to start fabricating the span, which is being done off site. And of course you see the two, you know, ends going up. A lot of concrete, you know, and it’s intricate cause there are elevator shafts in there. But that’s being formed and poured. We’re still hoping to have the span dropped on site sometime maybe in May and dropped on site. So they’ll have the span, but then we’ve got to start attaching the sides because you know, it can’t be just like a, a little railing. This is over a very heavily traveled roadway. Georgia DOT has to permit this whole thing. Because it not only is over their roadway, but the two towers are in their right of way. So it has to be permitted by them. And so they’ve got to inspect this to certain points. And so the span will come out. We’ve got attach sides that are, have small enough openings that you can’t throw things out into traffic.
Rico: [00:45:33] Right. And then assignments to essentials.
Brian: [00:45:35] Well, there’ll be, there’ll be letters spelling out Peachtree Corners right. But, and then you’ve got to pour the floor cause it’s steel fabric, and then they’ll set it in place. Everything. So, I mean, you’re still, you know, sometime in the summer we, it should be done, but it’s moving along. You know, well, I mean, of course, you know, it’s got to get State approval at various places. So, and weather’s always a factor in everything, and it’s a little bit slower because we’re not wanting to close lanes to do any of this. So, you know, there are certain things that it would move faster if you could, but we’re not going to. So anyway, but you know, some or some time this summer is not bad.
Rico: [00:46:22] All right. And what about, we were talking about the Indigo hotel, possibly the apartment complex there, the 12 town center. Is that moving along any, any more than what we discussed last time?
Brian: [00:46:35] I mean, the owner and the ownership group raised over $23 million, something like that for the effort. That’s official fact. They’re already starting to issue quarterly reports to all of the investors. So they’re holding their money that much. I do know. So if they weren’t serious, I don’t know why they would go out and raise that much money only to have to give it back.
Rico: [00:46:59] So the $23 million will actually fund both those buildings, the whole thing.
Brian: [00:47:05] And so I, yeah. It looks like it’s moving. I mean, you know, they haven’t submitted for any permits or anything yet, but then there’s, you know, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that go on some of these things.
Rico: [00:47:17] The old Fiserv property, I understand earth is moving or things are being done there?
Brian: [00:47:22] Demolition of existing buildings is, is happening. It is moving forward, phase one at least.
Rico: [00:47:31] All right. And then, I hear this, the Peachtree Corners festival is going to be at town center this year?
Brian: [00:47:37] It is.
Rico: [00:47:38] And there’s plenty of space. Good, good, good. Is it going to be, are we going to be closing off the street? I guess Peachtree Corners circle?
Brian: [00:47:50] Yeah. So it looks like for it to be, for it to have enough property, we’re going to have to bring into play the section of Peachtree Corners Circle in between Medlocke and
Peachtree Parkway. And close off some of it. There’s the, you know, I don’t know if it will be for Medlocke, just to the entrance to DaVinci court. Probably that’s probably what it will be done then DaVinci court’s parking lots might come into play, but you know, like the car show and the vendors setting up, you gotta have a lot of space. And then we use the town green as the concert space. And so I think the link between the two will be, well, I think it’ll be good. You know, and I know the businesses want it.
Rico: [00:48:44] Oh, I’m, I’m sure. I mean, you know, the businesses are, you know what I’m seeing more you know, everyone’s doing their bit to gather more business. You know, it’s just the zone. You can’t even hire enough people it seems with some of the businesses, especially the restaurants it seems to be that there’s just not enough people to hire to do the work.
Brian: [00:49:08] Well, I mean, that’s a whole different, you know, it’s a whole different conversation about workforce housing. You know, communities love having lots of service related, you know, amenities, restaurants. Good stores, you know, boutique stores, entertainment, but they have to have people working in them that are in the service sector. And service sector doesn’t necessarily make a lot of money. And so sometimes it’s hard if you’re in that, you know, if you’re like working in a restaurant in an affluent area. You can’t live close to that because you can’t afford to.
Rico: [00:49:47] So is the city looking at solutions for that?
Brian: [00:49:49] Well, I mean, yes, we’re always looking to have as diverse of a housing stock as we can. Just like we want a diverse local economy. The trick there is to find the right locations for all of that stuff. And so, but, but we are, but yeah, I mean, the other thing though is we’re kind of in that unique point in time, we just added a bunch of new stuff, which means the, what existed prior to that is kind of sharing. Then you’ve got this extra, this extra, you know. Fight for finite resources. And we’re not in that final stage of all of the local rooftops. You’ve got 75ish townhomes that still have to be built. They’re starting. You can see some of them coming out, but you know, that’s, that’s people that are right there. And then you’ve got 250ish shower, many units that were in the pedestal. Apartment complex on the Robert’s property. They haven’t started yet, so that’s a lot of rooftops. We’re calling residential units that are right there in town center. That’ll help. And then we also haven’t connected the form and town center yet. So right now I felt that there had been times where I may have walked to the other side for something, but because I can’t easily, I just got by, I said, screw it. I’m not gonna do that right now. Whereas if you could’ve just walked across, that probably would have. So linking it all together. So we’re hoping to just get through this transitionary period and everything is relatively, you know, the same. And then at that point, I think we’ll have a good base for customers.
Rico: [00:51:40] Yeah. Yeah, for sure. When there’s, especially these shorts bridge road, the old Fiserv property, more, more stuff going on there. This has been Prime Lunchtime with City Manager, Brian Johnson. I appreciate the time you’ve given us.
Brian: [00:51:52] Thanks for having me.
Rico: [00:51:53] We’ve been at the Atlanta Tech Park here in the city of Peachtree Corners doing this podcast, talking about all sorts of things from mobility to development and retail and business. I want to say thank you again to our friends at Hargray Fiber. Who has been, not only is a lead sponsor of this podcast and the family of podcasts, but also a big part of Curiosity lab and Peachtree Corners. So thank you for that. And you can find more information about Hargray at HargrayFiber.com so appreciate it. Thanks everyone. Take care.
City Elections Set for Nov. 2, with Early Voting Underway
Three council seats are up for election in Peachtree Corners, Post 2, 4 and 6. Qualifying for the November 2, 2021 municipal elections took place Aug. 16 – 18 at City Hall.
The Post 2 and 6 incumbents will run unopposed. The Post 4 incumbent has one challenger.
For information on the candidates, visit the city’s website, peachtreecornersga.gov; under the “Residents” tab, click on the link marked “Elections” then select “Candidates” in the column on the left.
All city (municipal) elections take place at Peachtree Corners City Hall, 310 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, regardless of polling places for county, state or federal elections.
Voting in City Elections
There are several ways to vote in City elections: Absentee Voting by Mail, Absentee Voting in Person (Early Voting), and Election Day in person.
Absentee Voting by Mail
Absentee vote by mail applications are available on the city’s website and may be submitted up to 180 days prior to Election Day. Complete the application and fax it to 678-550-9813 or email it to Rocio Monterrosa at firstname.lastname@example.org. Once voter registration is confirmed, a ballot will be mailed to you along with instructions on how to process it.
Once you receive the ballot, it should be clearly marked, sealed in proper envelopes and mailed back to:
Absentee Ballot Clerk
City of Peachtree Corners
310 Technology Parkway
Peachtree Corners, GA 30092
All completed ballots must be received by the Elections Superintendent prior to 7:00 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
In Person Voting
All voting will take place at Peachtree Corners City Hall, 310 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092.
Absentee/Early Voting: In-person voting begins Oct. 11, 2021 and closes Oct. 29, 2021, the Friday before Election Day. Voting will be available weekdays and on Saturday the 16th and 23rd from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Proper identification must be supplied to cast a vote. No absentee/early voting is permitted by law the Monday before Election Day. For questions notify Kym Chereck, City Clerk / Elections Superintendent email@example.com or 678-691-1203.
On Election Day, November 2, 2021, the polls will be open at City Hall from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Proper identification must be supplied to cast a vote.
ALL REGISTERED VOTERS SHALL PRESENT PROPER PHOTO IDENTIFICATION FOR ALL VOTING OPTIONS. Acceptable identification shall consist of any one of the forms listed on the Secretary of State’s Georgia Voter Identification Requirements page, https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/elections/georgia_voter_identification_requirements2
NOTE: The “precinct card” you receive to confirm your voter registration and voting location is NOT a form of identification and it will not be sufficient identification to vote.
Voter Identification Card
If you do not have one of the six acceptable forms of photo ID, you can obtain a Voter Identification Card either through the Gwinnett County Registrar’s office (455 Grayson Hwy, Suite 200, Lawrenceville) or the Georgia Department of Driver Services offices free of charge.
Note: this page pertains to City elections. For information on where to vote and general elections visit the Georgia Secretary of State My Voter Page (MVP) .
Please exercise your right to vote!
From the Mayor’s Desk September 2021: Bio Tech, Life Science Industry Expanding in Our City
The life science sector continues to grow at an astounding pace. We can see it in our own
backyard. Not only does the city have a tremendous network of software, engineering and fintech companies, it is also home to a number of bio tech and life science laboratories.
We recognize that these “targeted businesses” in fields such as technology and life sciences bring high-level jobs to the city and are especially beneficial to the overall community. It is no secret that the city supports job growth and is proactive when it comes to economic development.
Last month, the governor announced that Intuitive Surgical will spend more than $500 million to expand its operation in Peachtree Corners. The Sunnyvale, Calif.–based robotic surgery systems company has had a presence in Georgia for a decade. The plan is to expand the Peachtree Corners campus to 750,000 square feet of manufacturing and engineering operations, training facilities for surgeons and hospital care teams, and administrative offices. The expansion will take place in phases, with completion in 2024. Intuitive plans to add 1,200 jobs on top of the 180 professionals it already has here.
Another Peachtree Corners company, AKESOgen, grew organically in a short period of time. AKESOgen provides biomarker profiling and genomics services for the research and development market, including biobanking, DNA/RNA extraction, and genetic technologies. During the height of the pandemic, the company was performing 7,000 tests a day, mainly from customer CVS. Founded in 2010, AKESOgen has run genetic technologies labs at Glaxo SmithKline and Emory University and done extensive work with the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In 2019, AKESOgen was acquired by Tempus, a Chicago-based health technology company
advancing precision medicine through the application of artificial intelligence. With the world’s largest libraries of clinical and molecular data, and an operating system to make that data accessible, Tempus assists physicians in making real-time, data-driven decisions regarding patient care.
Pace Analytical, based in Minneapolis, MN, has a laboratory in Technology Park, where
environmental testing is performed, as well as life sciences and other high-quality chemical and microbiology testing. The company also provides staffing and instrument support.
Encompass Pharmaceutical Services is a privately held company with headquarters in Technology Park. It provides state-of-the art analytical services to some of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the world. Encompass has significant development experience in ophthalmic drug development.
I could keep going. In fact, we have a new laboratory that just opened on Oakbrook Parkway in
Peachtree Corners. Oxy-Gen Laboratory provides comprehensive genetic testing and screening
for cardiovascular disease, newborn screening, carrier testing, cancer genomics, respiratory
problems and other diseases. There is Alpha Genomix on Research Court, providing molecular
diagnostics for genetic testing. And PathConLaboratories on Scientific Drive analyzes water. It
provides reliable Legionella testing validation, analysis, and prevention services. We can’t forget Global 7, which does a great deal of COVID-19 testing and performs various other pathogen panels.
You may not have been aware of these companies in the city, where employees are working hard to advance the science behind good human health. We are glad to have them. Since businesses tend to cluster together, there may be more on the horizon. With the office market still slowed by the pandemic, landlords may look to convert buildings into lab space.
Stay safe everyone,
Mike Mason, Mayor
New ARPA Grants Start-Up, AV Shuttles Return to Tech Park, and Other City News
Fresh from giving a keynote speech at this year’s Move America 2021 (Mobility Conference), we speak with City Manager Brian Johnson about the new AV shuttles in Technology Park – the first time TWO different autonomous vehicles will be operated in the same environment).) Plus, we talk about the ARPA grants that just launched and more city news.
Timestamp (where to find it in the show):
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:02:01] – Autonomous Shuttles in Technology Park
[00:10:54] – ARPA Grants
[00:17:43] – New Interests in Curiosity Labs
[00:21:41] – Spalding Drive Expansion
[00:23:04] – Other Building Projects and Expansions
[00:30:48] – Closing
“Whether we like it or not, if we don’t carefully allow ourselves to grow, we don’t want to do it haphazardly. But if we don’t grow or allow the demand to come into the city, then the surrounding cities will pass us by. Population in Metro Atlanta is growing. They need to go somewhere and they’re looking at places. And we’re in a good position. We’re close to inside the perimeter, but not quite that dense yet. And so maybe we do offer a good intermediate step. We’re not North Forsyth county, but we’re not down in Midtown either.”Brian johnson
[00:00:30] Rico: Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life and today Prime Lunchtime with The City Manager. I’m going to bring Brian on shortly. We’re going to be talking about quite a few things. The AV shuttles that have returned to Technology Park. ARPA grants that are in the process right now of application acceptance and a few other things as well. But just want to let you know that Brian being the city manager of Peachtree Corners has been out again, as he often is, doing speeches and giving keynote addresses, conferences that help attract more businesses to the city of Peachtree Corners. So we’re fortunate to have him coming from the airport parking lot as he’s come in from giving a keynote speech, Hey Brian, at Move America, which is a mobility conference held in Las Vegas. And not only did he do the keynote speech there, but he ended up having to be there for another hour and a half handing out business cards to a line of people that showed up, wanting to know more about the city of Peachtree Corners. So how’re you doing Brian? And thank you by the way for coming from right off the plane onto the show. I appreciate that. So let’s get right into it. There’s a few things that we want to talk about and there might be a slight delay, it seems. But we’ll work through that. But our first thing would be about the AV shuttles that returned to the Peachtree Corners and Technology Park Line. So tell us a little bit about that, Brian, about the two companies, Local Motors, Navya, which is a French company. So tell us a little bit about what that means of what actually is happening there. This started, I think last week, right?
[00:02:01] Brian: It has and again, I appreciate this opportunity Rico. I do apologize. I’m not in my normal environment, if you will. I just flew in from speaking at a conference, a mobility conference, and what you just brought up was the topic at the conference. And that is we are on, this coming Wednesday are going to be unveiling the deployment of our second round of autonomous vehicles. This time, as opposed to the first we’re going to do a couple of things differently. In fact, different enough that I can say that this is going to be the first time in the world, that there is going to be a deployment of autonomous vehicles from two different OEMs or original equipment manufacturers. Like you said earlier, one is Local Motors, they make the Olli shuttle and they deployed two of theirs a year ago. And they’re coming back with their 2.0 version and another company, a French company called Navya, and they are going to deploy two as well. So we’re going to have four autonomous shuttles. And for the first time in the world, there are going to be two autonomous shuttles from two different OEMs deployed on the same public road at the same time across the 5G wireless network. And so they’re going to be testing connected vehicle services and capabilities for these two OEMs and the four shuttles to test their ability to communicate to each other. So one driverless vehicle to another, across two different companies. As well as communicating to human driven automobiles on the roadway. And there was a lot of interest in how well they perform. And then another important thing is as they do it in a living laboratory environment, these shuttles are open to the public. So people are going to be able to ride on these shuttles just like they did the first time. But in this case, it’s two different ones. And in some cases they may even be doing what’s called platooning, which is the lead shuttle is using its capabilities to move forward. Using its LIDAR to see, using the map that’s put into it’s central processing unit, using its sensors. But then the trail vehicle, it’s going to take all of its directions if you will, from the lead vehicle. And so it’s really just going to keep its distance on the lead vehicle the whole time. But anyway, we can talk about all the unique stuff that’s going to happen, but it is our second deployment. And the last thing I’ll leave you is if, you know, as a resident, I could sit here and say what’s in it for us? It’s not going to be coming into my neighborhood or I’ll never be using it for functional reasons. Maybe I’ll do it as more curiosity play and I want to see what it’s like. But what is happening here is these shuttles and the deployment bring with them teams, support teams, that are here to both keep the shuttles running and to manage all the testing that’s being done. And these people have to stay in hotels. They’ve got to eat. They’re going to probably purchase things. Beyond that these shuttles are here for a year. And so these shuttles are generating activity that our community will benefit from by their mere presence here.
[00:05:43] Rico: Yeah. That’s exciting. That’s exciting because I think not only that, like you described, but all these companies put out their own press releases, right? And they’re pushing the fact that they’re in Peachtree Corners doing this, as well. So that’s exciting because they’re expanding the influence of what we do here. And hopefully other companies will then pay attention to what they’re doing. And maybe look at us and give us a second look or a third look for that matter to see what we’re doing. So that’s why, to me, that’s exciting. And the fact that autonomous vehicles? Yes. You hear things about what’s going on with Tesla right now and self-driving cars, but this is a lot different, really. This is more talking about city mobility, about the functions of what a city can do eventually in providing shuttles to its residents. So a lot different than doing random driving. So this sounds like this would come sooner to me and good stuff, right?
[00:06:40] Brian: Yes. And one other thing to consider is part of this deployment is going to afford the city an opportunity, since there’s more shuttles and more support staff, for us to explore the ability to maybe link up the two hotels that are at the south end of Curiosity Lab’s track. The Marriott and the Hilton specifically, but there’s a bunch of other hotels around it. And link it up with our town center. And we might be able to do it in such a way that people can go between the two and not actually do so on our road, or actually on existing road. And why that’s important is twofold. With Intuitive announcing their $600 million campus and expansion, they are estimating 16,000 hotel room nights stays per year in visiting surgeons that will be learning how to operate using the DaVinci device. And they’re doing that here at our campus. So they’re going to be staying in hotels. And two is, it allows people for whatever reason that might be in that hotel or any of those hotels, to be able to get up to the Town Center and not have to actually be in a vehicle that’s on the roadway, like 141. Right now, if you wanted to go up there, yeah, you’d have to get a cab and the cab would, or whatever would get on 141 and would be contributing to the congestion. We might be able to keep those people off of it, let them go up there. And so it is affording us an opportunity as the municipality to look at functional ways that it can benefit our residents.
[00:08:23] Rico: Yeah. And part of it, I think when we had discussed this once before, we would be using part of the wide pavement area that’s already currently running along Peachtree Parkway. But the city would probably have to expand that a little bit further towards Norcross High School. So then it would be workable that way. But that you don’t have to deal with the state.
[00:08:43] Brian: No, I mean, we have to deal with the state because it’s in their right of way. And we currently are talking to them and they are very interested. But they’re interested because, ‘A’, they know that at some point there’s going to need to be autonomous vehicles in their right of way. And so they want to break the seal on that. Why they like using that extra wide path that you see there on the, I guess that would be what? The East Side of Peachtree Parkway, is because it allows us to put an autonomous vehicle in state right of way, but not in the current traveling. That’s what makes them super uncomfortable. This would allow them to break the seal, but to do so in a way that they’re not like, oh wait, there’s a lot of cars and they’ve got interacts. They’re very interested. And we have high hopes that we’re going to be able to make this happen.
[00:09:35] Rico: That’s cool, that’s great. And I would think the state would love that because you’re right. It just seems much easier to be able to deal with that than trying to put autonomous vehicles right on the road, per se, and still be able to say Georgia might be the first state allowing that. Being able to do that because I don’t know what other state is doing that right now actually. There may not be any. So all good things. A smart city needs to move along and be able to do things like that. And we’ve just come off a successful, we’re attracting a lot of different things. The city’s doing a lot. The Peachtree Corners Festival just happened. That had a great turnout at town center. There’s going to be a first city event. The Peachtree corners decathlon happening, that’s a city sponsored event in November. A lot of good events happening, great breweries out there. We have our own microbrews. Two of them in the city of Peachtree Corners. We just did a podcast with them. So there’s a lot of stuff here, a lot of things happening, technology driven and stuff. So all good things even during this pandemic. There’s a lot of things. So let’s segue a little bit into also what may be helping because of what’s going on the ARPA grants that are out there and actually in the middle of accepting applications. So maybe you could tell us a little bit about where that’s coming from, what those grants are and who can apply for that.
[00:10:54] Brian: ARPA, as the acronym is being called is the American Rescue Plan Act. It is the legislation adopted by US Congress, signed by the president, to appropriate money to states, counties, cities. For us to essentially pump money back into the economies of these jurisdictions and help and do so by helping those companies, for-profit, non-profit. But helping them deal with pandemic related costs or loss of revenue. So it’s money that we’re getting, or we’ve started to receive, for use in helping organizations deal with the effects of the pandemic. And so we may be one of the first, at least in Metro Atlanta, who has formalized a program and a process for this money to get into the hands of these organizations that have been affected by the pandemic. And the reason that we moved as quick as we did, although I will say, quick, but yet methodical. We had some outside help with some consultants who do grant writing and administration for a living. And they helped us formalize this program. But mayor and council’s guidance to me was get this into the hands of those in Peachtree Corners that need it as soon as you can. Because the assumption is these organizations are hurting the most today that they will going forward. Meaning they’re going to be hurting a little bit more today than tomorrow, and then a little bit less the next day and the next day, hopefully as the economy continues to improve. But their direction was, get this into the hands of those who are hurting as quick as you can. So we published the program and we can talk about it more detailed. But it is open and we are appropriating, or we have about $8.2 million that are going to be going out to various organizations that qualify.
[00:13:24] Rico: And as far as qualify, what type of organizations are we seeing coming in or should be coming in to take advantage of this?
[00:13:31] Brian: We have really, there’s no limitation on what type of organizations. You can be a for-profit, you can be a nonprofit, you can even be a governmental entity, technically. But it’s not the type of organization that guides it. It’s the ultimate I guess, use of the money that guides it. So for instance, some of the easy things to qualify would be loss of revenue. A company generally was generating a certain amount of revenue prior to the pandemic it. They’re not generating the same. This money can be used to supplement their revenue stream based on previous earnings. And so to qualify, they would come into the city and show us how much money they generally would make and how it decreased because of the pandemic and then money can go to them and they can just, re-energize their coffers, if you will. That’s an easy one. There’s some other ones, other uses. And by the way, that operation issue with the pandemic, like revenue can be for profit or non-profit. We don’t differentiate between the two in that both of them can qualify. If they can show us that they have lost revenue because of the pandemic. And then you get into expenses. There are expenses that companies have gone into because of the pandemic. Easy examples would be capital improvements made to address the fact that we have an airborne virus. So there could have been structural changes that somebody made to their office. There could have been technology they purchased so that their employees can work from home, things like that, that are pandemic related. And then there could be deferred maitenance. There could be building maintenance that they normally would have done, but they couldn’t because the pandemic affected their revenue streams or they closed completely. There are industries like hotels that have been decimated by the pandemic and they, in some cases closed their doors completely. And so there’s that. And then you get into those groups that have been affected more than others. So there is money that out there that can go to population groups that are underserved, that may have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. And so if you can have an expense that might help those who were affected in that way, that can also qualify. So there’s a lot of different things, different activities, different uses of the money. They do need to all fall under the pandemic. And whether it’s loss of revenue, increased expenses, groups disproportionally affected, but it’s all pandemic related. And so that would be how we’re getting the applications. But we are getting applications from all sorts of for-profit, nonprofit, oriented organizations
[00:16:26] Rico: It’s good to see that the federal monies are put into local hands, to be able to help put this out get it to the right people. So I’m glad the city’s being able to do that probably way before some of these other cities are able to get their act together.
[00:16:41] Brian: Well, I was going to say, I mean, so the money has to be spent by 2024. So there are a lot of cities that are sitting back and they’re like we don’t know. We’re not going to, we’re going to wait and see on X, Y, or Z. I just know that it here, again, mayor and council felt like, look now is not the time to hoard the money. Because people are hurting the most now, or at least we hope it’s only going to get better every day into the future we go. So again, their guidance to me was get it into their hands. And so we are. And we’re doing it in a way that can be as defensible when the city gets audited. And so that’s where the application comes in to show for us to be able to validate that this money is going to be used to meet the legislative intent Congress had when it wrote it. And our job is to get it into those people’s hands as quick as we can. And we are. You know, finance department led by Cory Sally and some consultants are a million miles an hour right now, grading applications and trying to get that money passed through to those in need.
[00:17:43] Rico: Yeah. That’s great that the city’s doing that. I mean, I look at and they hear about the billion dollars or so, I forget the amount of money, that’s supposed to be going to people that can’t pay their rent. Or to apartment owners that, family apartment owners that I can’t afford, not having people pay their rents. And none of that money is being put out. And it’s just a shame that’s happening that way. But so I’m glad the city, always with the city I see, is always pushing forward and doing things. That happened last year and the year, I think the year before, but so a lot of good things happening in the city. Curiosity Lab, by the way, also, you know, that’s certainly part of the AV shuttles that are coming in, but Curiosity Lab continues to attract other businesses. We still have the French American chamber of commerce relocating to Peachtree Corners and more companies are in the discussion phase with us. So it’s good to see that’s happening. Anything new you can share there? Any other companies that may be in the talks with us or that you see on the horizon that may be coming this way?
[00:18:49] Brian: You’re talking about what type of activity or what type of technology?
[00:18:54] Rico: Technology, activity, anything you can share along those lines. I know sometimes it’s hard to do that.
[00:18:59] Brian: Yeah. I mean, when you’ve asked me that in the past, anytime I estimate oh, there’s this, I think that we’ve got the most bleeding edge type of stuff. There’ll be something else that blows my mind. I mean again, it would’ve never occurred to me that there would be E-scooters that you could summon like an Uber and a Lyft and the human located in another country could drive it to you and then you hop on it and then you drive it. That kind of, it’s just, it’s blown my mind. We’ve got a lot of cybersecurity stuff picking up. The track and the City Street of the Future that is Curiosity Lab has really generated or created an environment that is creating a, just a crush of metadata. And so there’s been a lot more interest in data security by federal agencies, like the FBI and the secret service. And by the private sector, financial technology. FinTech companies who obviously are in it a lot and are worried about, when they’re in different locations, whether that city street of the future that’s around their ATM’s or their bricks and mortar locations, whether that’ll allow them an opportunity to hack in. Because right now, you don’t even have to go to a bank anymore. You can basically do all your financial transactions, I could do it sitting here in a parking deck on my phone. And so those companies are kind of like, whoa, there’s a lot that’s going on. Including my phone is connected to my car, the infotainment system of my car. So somebody, if I was like gonna, get into my bank and do something, they might hack into my car through my infotainment system. And now they’re into my phone because it’s connected and I’m making a financial transaction and now they’re in. And so we’re getting a lot of that. And we’re also getting a lot of electric mobility, electrification, electric vehicle charging interest. Big push. That was, while he wanted to see Curiosity Lab in general the specific part he wanted to look at he being Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg was the electric vehicle stuff that’s going on because there’s this big push. And the one point, what is it? Three, one point, whatever trillion dollar hard infrastructure bill that Congress is currently wrestling with, that has a lot of electric vehicle stuff in it. So we’ve got a lot of interest there as well. So I would say that’s what Curiosity Lab is, that’s the flavor of the…
[00:21:41] Rico: No, I totally agree. The electric charging stations, all that. The other day I think it was Ford, that said that they’re rebuilding and they’re adjusting what they’re doing with their electric vehicles now. They’re going whole hog into it. They’re creating their own, I think three different battery factories to be able to source for their electric vehicles. The minute you start seeing manufacturers talking about that, creating their own battery factories, you know that they’re going whole hog in. Because they want to be able to control that process. So we are heading that way. So EV charging stations, I was surprised as though, you know, at some point they’ll probably be more incentives for solar panels or similar type stuff for homes, again. Like there used to be back a few years ago when the state, I think the state and the federal government had rebates essentially for EV for electric. But I think they were also for homes that installed solar panels as well. Good to see these things are happening. There’s basic stuff happening too, right? The city standard. Spalding drive is finally getting a four lane bridge crossing over, over that part that’s past Holcomb Bridge going into, what is that Sandy Springs, Dunwoody then to Chapel Road. So that’s, I think they have two, two lanes already complete, and they’re going to be working on the other two lanes, I guess. It’ll probably take another year, to work on. I don’t know.
[00:23:00] Brian: Yeah. That’s a safe, yeah, that’s probably safest to say another year.
[00:23:04] Rico: Yeah, it seems to be. So I mean that’s happening. We have the Botanical Garden Style trail work being done near Town Center. That’s moving along. That’ll be part of the trail system that the city has. That keeps attracting more, every time there’s a new development, there’s more land donated for trails and stuff. That’s good to see. What else do we have?
[00:23:25] Brian: Yes. We’re working with intuitive on their campus. You know, $600 million campus. And there’s talk of the trails integrating trails on their multi-use trail on there. And that was an area that did not necessarily have it where their campus is, but because they acquired so many other parcels around it and created this, very large one. It creates opportunities now to maybe integrate that into their master plan. Yes, we’re always looking for ways to try to connect the city together.
[00:24:02] Rico: And it makes sense. You’re going to have a campus with five plus buildings, 1200 plus employees. Since there’ll be current employees, another 180 maybe coming from the west coast in addition to 1200 new jobs. So you’re really looking at closer to 1600 employees on that campus almost at some point when it’s finally finished. And attracting more people to a city that has all the functionality and more, the attraction and more than you would find in town. What I looked at, you know, people talk about Brookhaven. They talked about Buckhead. Sure, all those things are nice, but you know, it’s very dense. It’s a different type of living, living in a city. When you may want a bit of rural, urban. And still get festivals, still get nightlife, still get things going on, like that. Trails and all that. So it’s good to see the city’s working towards doing that.
[00:24:52] Brian: And, you know, Rico, you and I have talked about this before is, we live in a metropolitan area and it does, like you just said, offer us opportunities to experience things that are not in our backyard. But it sure is nice to have a lot of options that are in your backyard so that you can make your little world as small as you can and not have to fight traffic and do all that kind of stuff. And yes, we are trying to, in our own little way, have enough around that if people don’t want to, drive into Midtown or Buckhead or whatever that there’s at least still things to do. And we’re getting there.
[00:25:36] Rico: Yeah. And I see that. I mean, some people may not want the area to change much, because they moved here 10, 20 years ago and they want it to stay the way it was. That’s not a reality that exists anywhere in this world. Things change. There will be more density just even if you want to, even for those people that just want to live here and stay here. They may want to downsize. So they’re looking for different places to do that in. I understand the town has it been built at Town Center. I think there were the ones that are completed are sold and occupied for the most part. And then you have Waterside at East Jones bridge road, and they’re working up this stuff.
[00:26:10] Brian: And you know, they’re also selling their units as they build them. So there is no backlog. They’re not waiting to sell units. They’re building them as fast as the jacked up supply chain that we’re currently operating within, or they are. They’re building them as fast as they can. And yes, we have a lot of activity and you and I have also talked about this a lot. Whether we like it or not, if we don’t carefully allow ourselves to grow. We don’t want to do it haphazardly, we don’t want to just say, oh, I’ll do whatever wherever. But if we don’t grow or allow the demand to come into the city, then the surrounding cities will pass us by. And one day you’ll look back and we’ll be this shell of a city. Not necessarily because we did anything wrong, but because cities around us were doing things to allow the demand for growth and the fact that population in Metro Atlanta is growing. They need to go somewhere and they’re looking at places. And we’re in a good position. We’re close to inside the perimeter, but not quite that dense yet. And so maybe we do offer a good intermediate step. We’re not North Forsyth county, but we’re not, down in Midtown either. Maybe we’re a good cross in between. It’s happening whether we like it or not.
[00:27:37] Rico: And it’s a good mix though, because you have subdivisions like Amberfield and Linfield and Rivercrest, North Manor. Small subdivisions, large ones. And then you have the Technology Park areas where the city with forethought has already put overlays for the entertainment area. Where they’ve done other aspects of creating opportunities to build mid-rise buildings in areas that are not right next to or near let’s say, the one family homes. So you have a good mix of density, a good use of multi-use work that’s out there. I’d love to see a, and I think at one point I think there is, is the arts council or committee that the city set up. I would love to see an art center at some point here in Peachtree Corners. I think that would be the one thing. If I, if there was something we were lacking, I think that would be the one thing we’re lacking having our own theater and art center. So who knows, when that be.
[00:28:32] Brian: You’re not the only one Rico. Mayor and council, senior staff feel the same way. That’s our one thing that we do feel like there is a demand. And we did an arts master plan and it kind of identified the perfect size. It wasn’t as big as Sandy Springs’ big one. But it wasn’t like a, hundred person, little like park amphitheater. And I can’t remember the sweet spot, but anyway, we are going to, I think it’s fair to say, ultimately have it. The question is where? How soon? Does it go into an existing building that we renovate? Do we do a new build? That’s what we’re, juggling right now. But you’re right. And most, if not all mayor and council feel the same way you do that that’s a need that we can fill before too long.
[00:29:22] Rico: And I think that, I know with the redevelopment authority, that’s out there working in part of city that there could be an opportunity where builders may come in and developers may come in and that can be part of the solution for a place is what I’m thinking as well. To incentivize a company to come in. If they want to put in 200, 300 units and do multi-use with office 20, 30 retail spaces and having a beautiful art center smack in the middle of it. I mean, all that would be nice if we could get the right type of mix. I’d love to see that too. That’s just me, but yeah. So yeah, I think you all are doing a great job. We’ve covered a lot. I know the next meeting together, we’re going to be covering more because we’ll be covering what’s going to be upcoming in the next city council meeting actually in a month from now. Which is the second read and then recommendations probably from the planning commission on the, one of the applications is a long extended stay hotel that wants to convert to an apartment complex or an apartment building. And there was also another read for AHS residential. That’s a rezoning or requesting a rezoning of a 10 plus acre area from an M1 to a multi-use development. And that’s at 20 and 22 Technology Parkway South. I know those are going to be coming up. I know you haven’t formulated an opinion yet. And the planning department still has to talk about it and come up with a recommendation on that. But that’s going to be coming up.
[00:30:47] Brian: Yep. It is.
[00:30:48] Rico: We’ll be discussing that in our next meeting, plus a few other things I’m sure. Because no one could tell the future, there’s going to be other things coming up, I’m sure. So I’m glad that we’re able to do this on a monthly basis and get some information out there. And also this feeds into, articles that we write and stuff. I want people to look forward to our next issue, which we’re working on this week, goes to the printer this week. That’s actually talking about, we have profiles of five of the department heads of the city of Peachtree corners. People that, most people may not know of and talk about what they do on a day to day basis and how the city actually runs. So I can’t wait to get that out there. That’ll be fun. Any closing thoughts off this meeting and what we’re doing?
[00:31:28] Brian: I look forward to your next issue as well. You continue to choose your topics very wisely. And it’s a very interesting read beyond the type of stuff the city puts out, which is very informational in its nature, which it needs to be. But sometimes we need a little help by provide professionals to make some articles be more of human interest in what oftentimes the city has to report on.
[00:31:54] Rico: Well, I mean, that’s normal. The city has to get out there stuff about storm water’s and fire burns and stuff like that. Everyone should be looking forward to that next issue. Hopefully it’s going to be our pets and their people issue. So everyone that submitted pet photos, they’re going to be in that. We have an article in there, tons of articles, but talking about what’s coming in October, November events. There’s going to be an article in there about Wesleyan celebrating its 25 years in Peachtree Corners. Probably I think the largest land use by a single entity in the city of Peachtree Corners also. That is what they’ve accumulated in that area if I’m not mistaken.
[00:32:33] Brian: Even bigger than Waterside?
[00:32:34] Rico: Well, okay. Maybe that was prior to Waterside showing up. That might be actually prior to Waterside showing up. And I’m not quite counting an apartment complex per se or a living area. I’m talking about business or institution. Yeah. So we’re having that and just a slew of other articles. We actually have an article also in Gwinnett County’s Engine No. Four over there. Those guys are great. It’s a good story. People should catch up on what they’re doing also. Brian, I appreciate you talking with me and looking forward to doing this again next month. And everyone thanks for joining us. If you want to learn more about what’s going on in the city, check out LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. Check out our other podcasts as well. And just, look for the next issue next week. Thanks.
Don't miss out on news and events in Peachtree Corners.
First Up October / November 2021: Events, Programs and Fun Things to Do
The Grinch is coming to steal Christmas in Atlanta!
The Black Theatre Coalition/Broadway Across America Fellowship Now Accepting Applicants Through October 15
School Superintendent Watts Addresses Troubling Trends on TikTok by students
Feeling like Fall: Seasonal Events and Halloween
Cars and ‘Q fundraiser benefiting Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, with a PTC resident ambassador
New ARPA Grants Start-Up, AV Shuttles Return to Tech Park, and Other City News
Peachtree Corners Circle and Engineering Drive among places to get new sidewalks
City Elections Set for Nov. 2, with Early Voting Underway
Helping Special Needs Kids Break Through Barriers
Historic Tour of Mt. Carmel Church Cemetery on Oct. 17.
Gwinnett study to establish redevelopment plan of Gwinnett Place Mall
Pets and Their People 2021: Fun Stories
What’s Your Tutoring Plan?
Pets and Their People 2021: Gallery
Gwinnett Partnership, It’s Influence, What Trends they See, and Resources to Empower Businesses [Podcast]
Capitalist Sage: Business Leadership in Your Community [Podcast]
Cliff Bramble: A Culinary Adventure through Italy
Top 10 Brunch Places in Gwinnett County
A Hunger for Hospitality
THE CORNERS EPISODE 3 – BLAXICAN PART 1
Top 10 Indoor Things To Do This Winter
The ED Hour: What it takes to Remove Barriers from Education
Topics and Categories
- Around Atlanta (52)
- Arts & Literature (89)
- Business (221)
- Capitalist Sage (45)
- City Government (133)
- Commercial Real Estate (4)
- Community (337)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) (26)
- Digital Edition (2)
- Education (157)
- Elections and Politics (24)
- Entertainment (46)
- Explore Our City (1)
- Faith (33)
- Food & Drink (70)
- Giveaway (1)
- Good Works (10)
- Great Spaces (16)
- Gwinnett County News (9)
- Health & Wellness (42)
- Home & Real Estate (6)
- Life (6)
- MOVE (3)
- Movies (2)
- Music (16)
- Parks & Recreation (14)
- Partner Content (2)
- Peachtree Corners Life (46)
- Peachtree Corners Network (3)
- Pets & Animals (20)
- Photo Gallery (1)
- Podcast (109)
- Prime Lunchtime with Brian Johnson (15)
- Public Safety (11)
- Recalls & Consumer Issues (1)
- Roads and Transportation (8)
- School Sports (14)
- Spaces (11)
- Sports (34)
- Summer Camps (7)
- Sustainability (6)
- Tech (17)
- The ED Hour (3)
- Theater (3)
- Town Center (30)
- Uncategorized (2)
- Up First / Calendar (10)
Business3 days ago
Gwinnett study to establish redevelopment plan of Gwinnett Place Mall
Pets & Animals4 days ago
Pets and Their People 2021: Gallery
Peachtree Corners Life4 days ago
The Joro Spider in Peachtree Corners and What You Should Know [Podcast]
Pets & Animals4 days ago
Pets and Their People 2021: Fun Stories