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Building a Thriving Community through the Peachtree Corners Redevelopment Authority



peachtree corners redevelopment authority area map

Driving along the Holcomb Bridge corridor in Peachtree Corners brings one up against a medley of sights.

Condos. Offices. Strip shopping centers. Apartments built well before the turn of the century, some showing their age. But not much freshly turned earth, construction equipment or framed skeletons of buildings.

City officials would like to see more of the last — quite a bit more in fact.

Why the Redevelopment Authority?

Superimposed on present reality is their vision of how the area could one day look — provided that a newly created quasi-independent authority can forge multiparty development deals involving itself, developers, landowners and city government.

That’s why the Peachtree Corners Redevelopment Authority was created. Working within a general framework created by the state of Georgia, the mayor, city manager, planning staffers and council members spent months in meetings working to establish a local entity. The final step was appointment of nine members to the authority board at a Dec. 12 council meeting. Now it’s time to turn what’s been on paper up until now into a reality.

Look for a laser focus on the authority’s zone of responsibility, encompassing roughly one-third of the city’s footprint and centering along the Holcomb Bridge corridor.

City Manager Brian Johnson says zeroing in on that area simply makes sense.

City Manager Brian Johnson

As he explained, “The southern portion of Peachtree Corners was developed first so the area we put into the redevelopment zone is the oldest part of the city. A parcel can be developed and over time the surrounding area can change its character.”

That argues that the current best use of a property might be something different than how it was imagined decades ago.

One example: a commercial development such as a strip shopping center built with large parking lots and stores set well back from the street. Contrast that with the more modern approach to such commercial space — buildings set closer to the road and parking somewhat hidden. Another: a residential neighborhood where the surrounding turf has gone industrial.

Either of those, or other instances, could get a new lease on life.

How the Authority helps development

Community Development Director Diana Wheeler said creation of an initial citywide usage/development plan after incorporation in 2012 and a package of existing incentives (such as allowing variances on density) lured investment in other parts of the city — the Town Center development being a prime example.

But that didn’t fly along the Holcomb Bridge Corridor.

“We actually had a developer run some numbers for us to see what the issues were,” she said. “We found those numbers didn’t work.

“From a developer’s point of view, they’d approach a property owner and say they were interested in purchasing. The apartment owner would say it’ll cost you such-and-such because we’re making so much right now (due to high occupancy levels). So the developer is not only paying for the land but also buying out an existing business.”

Enter the redevelopment authority, which has both some unique powers and more flexibility in making deals than the city at large.

“For one thing,” said Johnson, “They can sole source and not have to bid out projects.” With a city, for example, if it’s a project above $50,000, they have to let it out for competitive bidding. That means an authority can go the distance with a private developer in consummating a development.

A redevelopment authority also has the power of eminent domain, can condemn property and abate nuisances. And it can cut breaks on property taxes.

“We’re looking at a domino effect,” said Wheeler. “If we get one or two under our belt, then the motivation will be to have things happen organically after that.”

Not only will the authority be able to plan and implement brick-and-mortar projects, it can also have a hand in various community improvement initiatives, such as reducing crime and preserving open space, said city officials.

Challenges and assets

One possible hitch involves the authority’s ability to get its hands on sufficient revenue to jumpstart development.

Johnson said such entities typically start out without revenue, so the city would have to pony up dollars up front. And since Peachtree Corners has no property tax, that shuts off one potential source of financing. Johnson said somewhat down the road, the authority could derive revenue in a number of ways, such as buying a building and leasing it out to tenants for steady rental income. In the early going, city officials said, selling bonds might well supply operating funds.

Shaun Adams, an attorney who has served with the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association, was among those appointed to the board in mid-December. He looks forward to delving into such details.

“I will want to dig into (the city’s existing) plan in more detail and see if I can identify additional opportunities,” he said. “I’m honestly excited to serve in this capacity.”

Other board members include real estate, education and engineering professionals from different parts of the city who represent a variety of ethnicities, ages and genders.

City Council member Weare Gratwick said whatever happens in coming months, the recently constituted board is well up to the task. He’s one of two council members who will exercise ex-officio oversight over the semi-independent entity.

City Council member Weare Gratwick

“We had over 30 applications from citizens to be on this board and all were good and well qualified. It was very difficult to choose,” he said. He said the final compliment is a diverse mix that represents “the best and the brightest.”

Johnson thinks the deals that emerge from the work of those bright minds will likely take one recurring form. “Mixed-use developments are mentioned more in connection with this because they work,” he said. “You can prevent having too much of one thing in a small area by mixing uses and those uses can feed off each other. They are symbiotic.”

Blending various types of housing with nearby restaurants such as a coffee shop is but one example, he said. But “what is more important is the highest and best use of a property,” Johnson added. “Maybe a big industrial development could be in the works for the area or Amazon may want to create a distribution center.”

Time to get moving

Now that the mechanism and its people complement are in place, he has a definite timeline in mind moving forward.

Johnson foresees the board taking three to six months to get comfortable in its role and become educated on the area within their jurisdiction and spending the second half of the year vetting details and doing due diligence.

“Just because something looks good from 30,000 feet doesn’t mean it looks as good from 10,000 feet,” Johnson warned.

He added, “Maybe by the end of this year, there’s a vetted opportunity with a developer who would step forward and say, ‘I’m interested in a certain location and want to do a specific deal. And I’m going to need help to make that happen.’”

The city manager hopes that would lead quickly to working on the hard-core details of turning a set of plans into brick and mortar. He said here are many combinations under which a development could come together, including dealmakers employing sub-developers who specialize in one specific aspect of design or construction.

In the context of a mature city running out of undeveloped land, city officials hope those high-fliers who make a cruise along Holcomb Bridge Road will get a much different visual experience in the months and years to come.

Think flying dirt, the roar of bulldozers and steel-framed skeletons.

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PCBA Awards $500 to Furkids at March Networking Event



Left to right, Monte McDowell PCBA Outreach; Donna Linden PCBA Board; Allison Reinert PCBA Board; Samantha Shelton Furkids; Lisa Proctor PCBA Board: Audrey Boyce PCBA Outreach, Matt Bettis PCBA Outreach (Photography by Richard Phillips)

The Peachtree Corners Business Association (PCBA) March Business After Hours Event was action packed with opportunities for business networking at Anderby Brewing. Everyone enjoyed new cocktails and specialty beers while enjoying dinner from Latin Fresh as well as axe throwing from Moving Target ATL NE.

The PCBA also presented a check of $500 to Furkids in support of their efforts to care for animals while helping to find their forever homes.

“The PCBA is proud to donate a check for $500 to Samantha Shelton, CEO of Furkids in support of their efforts to rescue homeless animals, provide them with the best medical care and nurturing environment while working to find them a forever home,” said Lisa Proctor, PCBA President.

“Our Outreach Committee and Board are impressed with Furkids’ commitment to provide care and restoration for these special animals at their no kill shelters. With the PCBA’s continuous commitment to supporting our community in a meaningful way, we are excited to be a small part of their efforts,” she added.

Headquartered in Georgia, Furkids is a nonprofit charitable organization that operates the largest cage-free, no-kill shelter in the Southeast for rescued cats, and Sadie’s Place, a no-kill shelter for dogs. Furkids also operates one of the only facilities in the Southeast dedicated to the care of FIV positive cats.

Furkids has rescued and altered more than 55,000 animals since its founding in 2002. Approximately 1,000 animals are in the Furkids program today, in the Furkids shelters, 10 PetSmart and Petco adoption centers, and more than 400 foster homes in the Atlanta area.

Funds for the PCBA Community Outreach program are raised throughout the year from PCBA membership, sponsorship and the annual charity event. Donations and scholarships are awarded at monthly events so members can learn more about these organizations.

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Shadow-Soft Joins Curiosity Lab as Startup Program Partner 



Shadow Soft Logo

Peachtree Corners announced that Shadow-Soft has joined Curiosity Lab as a Startup Program partner, providing additional resources for startups in the lab’s incubation program. Shadow-Soft specializes in helping companies modernize their infrastructure and applications with containers, Kubernetes, and the cloud for scale, speed, and cost.

“As an Atlanta technology leader, we are always looking to support companies as they grow and scale. We use proven methodologies to make sure people know where to start, identify a clear path forward and understand what open-source tools to use so they can start small, think big, and act fast,” said Shadow-Soft Vice President Nick Marcarelli.

“This aligns perfectly with companies at Curiosity Lab as they begin to grow their businesses. At times it can be overwhelming for growing companies to build a stable, reliable, and secure environment. We can provide the architectural insights and engineering knowledge necessary to scale with ease,” he explained.

Shadow-Soft is offering free 30 and 60-minute consultations with their team of experts to aid Curiosity Lab startup leaders in three separate areas: creating a technology blueprint to bring ideas to life, building rapid software development prototypes, and constructing a technology infrastructure to scale on demand.

“Adding Shadow-Soft to the Curiosity Lab adds an immensely valuable tool to offer our startups – complementing the opportunity they have to collaborate with some of the top technology brands in the world,” said Curiosity Lab Executive Director Brandon Branham.

“One of the largest challenges startups face is scaling rapidly. When the time comes, startups will often need executive guidance when it comes to scaling their company correctly, quickly, and in an affordable way. Shadow-Soft will be able to coach our startups from the beginning of their journey to their peak growth to ensure they have long-term success.”

For more about Curiosity Lab’s startup programs and Shadow-Soft’s startup program offerings, visit curiositylabptc.com/startups/.

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PCBA Donates to WellSpring Living



Pictured: Matt Bettis PCBA Outreach; Audrey Boyce PCBA Outreach; Suzanna Martinez PCBA Outreach; jeAnne Jeter Wellspring Living; Lisa Proctor PCBA Board; Allison Reinert PCBA Board; Michael Pugh PCBA Board; Toby Anderson PCBA Board

The Peachtree Corners Business Association awarded a check for $500 to Wellspring Living at their February 2023 Business After Hours Speaker Series Event!

The mission of Wellspring Living includes transforming the lives of those at risk or victimized by sexual exploitation. Wellspring Living provides community-based and residential services as well as partners with a wide range of human service organizations to ensure that each victim’s needs are met.  Programs include residential programs, community programs, and graduate services.  Wellspring Treasures (one located in Duluth) is not just a source of revenue but a hub for communities to engage with our work and be a part of the solution to help restore lives.

“The PCBA is proud to donate a check for $500 to Wellspring Living in support of their efforts to save lives at risk or victimized by sexual exploitation.  Our Outreach Committee and Board are impressed with the extent of the Wellspring Living programs and resources available in our community.  With the PCBA’s continuous commitment to supporting our community in a meaningful way, we are excited to be a part of the success of their survivors”, says Lisa Proctor, PCBA President. 

Funds for the PCBA Community Outreach program are raised throughout the year from PCBA membership, sponsorship, and our annual charity event.  Donations and scholarships are awarded at their monthly events, so the members have the opportunity to learn more about these organizations.

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