The mayors of Peachtree Corners, Norcross and Berkeley Lake shared their thoughts on improving the communities with American Rescue Plan money
A trio of Southwest Gwinnett County mayors talked about several aspects and impacts of the COVID crisis during a recent panel discussion, including how they were looking at spending money allocated to their cities as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
They also focused on challenges and changes emerging from the pandemic.
Mayors Mike Mason of Peachtree Corners, Craig Newton of Norcross and Lois Salter of Berkeley Lake fielded questions during a First Friday breakfast event hosted by the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber.
Plans for the cities
Mason outlined how his city created a mechanism to support small businesses with grants after Gwinnett cities received federal money under the earlier CARES act. Each qualified applicant received an allocation. He noted that in addition to the grants, air filtration and other protective equipment were also tacked on at city hall.
“With the ARPA money, we’ll do more of the same,” he said. Mason also said that plans are in the works to use some of the money to beef up broadband service in what are considered underserved areas of the city. He said some may doubt that a problem exists, but that it does.
“We learned during the pandemic that kids couldn’t get schooling from home, because if someone was in the living room watching TV, there wasn’t enough broadcast left for the kid in his room. If we can fix that, we’re probably going to try to do that.”
In contrast, Berkeley Lake Mayor Salter said that after spending considerable CARES money on sanitizing efforts and an air filtration system for city hall, they planned to go a different route under ARPA, using the federal funds mainly for stormwater infrastructure work. She said that with the city having no stormwater fee and with a preponderance of trees and hills, stormwater costs have been significant.
Norcross Mayor Newton was less definitive than his counterparts, outlining that the city has created a 12-member advisory group to make recommendations to the mayor and council on how to allocate funds. “So, we took the easy route. We turned it over to the citizens to help us decide how to spend some of this money,” he said.
Post-pandemic issues to consider
Addressing a related issue, Newton told the chamber audience that “we are not quite out of the woods yet on COVID,” contending that while declining case numbers and reopening businesses show that the vaccine is working, Georgia, as a state with a low vaccination rate, could be vulnerable to surges.
All three mayors agreed that the pandemic has been a long-term game-changer.
Several trends are important to consider in that regard, said Mason. He called for a show of hands and got a considerable response when he asked, “How many people are still working from home instead of going back to the office? That’s a trend.”
Also, residents continue to order more goods online, in his view, and he spoke about challenges in the hospitality sector, noting that Peachtree Corners has more hotel rooms than any other city in the county.
Mason said that with such mechanisms as Amazon readily available, people are reluctant to get into their cars unless a business is close by. To that end, he floated the idea of putting such residences as townhomes and apartments in closer proximity to commercial areas.
Newton noted that while businesses are optimistic about the long run, labor shortages and supply chain issues remain challenges in the foreground. Salter took a tack similar to Mason’s, saying that “it’s online everything” with resulting changes in the retail landscape and with jumping on a plane at Hartsfield to go out of town is giving way to a plethora of Zoom meetings.
Attracting and keeping residents a concern
The topics of affordable housing and of serving new residents while working to hang onto existing ones also came in for discussion. “As people begin to retire, you have to be ready to replace those retirees with a new generation,” said Newton. He added that recruiting qualified people leads to an expanded and better qualified workforce, which he said attracts more business and which, nowadays, is a more important factor than location.
In one tactic, he said the city of Norcross has positioned itself to attract more younger residents by hiring an events coordinator to focus on new entertainment and event programming. He also said that the city has joined forces with a state-sponsored program called the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. The group has come up with some potential affordable housing solutions for Norcross to be discussed in the near future, according to the mayor.
Mason took Newton’s talk of replacing those leaving the work force with a new generation one step further, arguing for retaining retirees and their disposable income. “Do we really want to lose them to, say, Florida?” he asked. “No, you want to keep them in your city. And they want to stay. If you don’t keep retiring citizens in your city, you’re done for.”
The Peachtree Corners mayor touted adaptive reuse of existing buildings as the best solution for providing more affordable housing overall, and said news of such a project may be on the horizon. Tearing down and replacing aging apartment complexes on the city’s south side has been talked about, but Mason indicated the numbers may not work for developers.
Pointing out that her city is essentially built out, Salter said they have attracted a number of new residents nonetheless, with people tearing down existing bungalows and putting up larger residences. She said city efforts have centered around such events as July 4th programming and in providing a children’s park and other kids’ activities to bring residents together.
Leaders discuss cities’ goals
She struck a similar tone when the mayors were queried about their goals. “My goal is to preserve the cohesiveness that I think has come under somewhat of a challenge this past year with what we’ve seen in our larger political culture,” said Salter. “People are seeming more cranky with each other, for lack of a better word. It’s made me sad and concerned.”
She added that “it’s such a small town and we know each other well so I think the mayor has a little more ability to point people in a direction.”
Mason put weight on continuing “sense of place” producing efforts in the young city. He also pushed improving amenities such as walking trails, which not only can improve residents’ health but add value to homes as well, he said. He added the city also needs to continue working on both economic development and redevelopment of aging structures and that a number of alternative redevelopment strategies are being weighed.
“It’s not a simple question,” was Newton’s initial reply.
He said he’s focused on increasing economic vitality and quality of life by protecting the city’s downtown and expanded city center, which would include redevelopment and expansion to the east across Buford Highway. He said two other goals involve increasing public safety through improved technology and maintaining the sustainability of parks, historic structures and natural resources.
In considering all those initiatives, indicated his counterpart in Peachtree Corners, it’s important to remember that their impacts can easily stretch across city borders. “Craig and I say it to each other all the time,” said Mike Mason. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
What does the French American Chamber, 5G, and the Secretary of Transportation have in Common?
Peachtree Corners and Curiosity Lab continues to draw attention nationally (with a recent visit by Secretary of Transporation Pete Buttigieg) and internationally (from France, the Swiss Consul General, and others.) Find out how this impacts our community, business, and where we go from here. With your host Rico Figliolini and City Manager Brian Johnson on Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager.
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:15] – The Swiss Ambassador Visit
[00:03:12] – French American Chamber of Commerce
[00:09:50] – A Visit from the Secretary of Transportation
[00:15:34] – Local Events and Updates
[00:28:56] – New Building Developments
[00:31:43] – Closing
“It’s kind of cool sometimes for the city to say, yeah, maybe we were part of the evolution of that particular technology. And so the secretary and others wanted to see some of the things that are happening here because they’re interested in how close or far away it is and what they can do to help.”Brian Johnson
[00:00:30] Rico: Hi, this is Rico Figliolini host of Peachtree Corners Life and today, Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager, Brian Johnson who I’m going to bring on shortly. But I just want to let you know what we’re going to be talking about today. Basically, we’re going to be talking about even with COVID we have an environment where things are moving and shaking, things are happening in the city. That not only affects this city, but some of it’s like the first time ever or things that are happening here, not really happening anywhere else. Like the 5G accelerator program. Having the secretary of transportation visit us, small city like ours, to discuss transportation. The French American chamber of commerce coming and moving into Peachtree Corners plus a whole lot more. So let’s get right into it with Brian. Hey, Brian. How are you?
[00:01:14] Brian: Good Rico, how are you?
[00:01:15] Rico: Good. So let’s talk a little bit about the Swiss ambassador and the council general coming for a visit from Washington to visit our little town of Peachtree Corners. What does that mean? And what can that mean? When we have dignitaries like that visiting us.
[00:01:28] Brian: Well, So this isn’t the first time that we have had some international dignitaries. Most of the time, it’s either the console general him or herself out of the Atlanta consulate. Sometimes we have some trade ambassadors, but this time the council general of Switzerland was joined by the Swiss ambassador himself. And they came here for the purposes of taking a look at Curiosity Lab, taking a look at the technology and the different sectors that we have here. And to do so for the purposes of them maybe seeing if there are some opportunities for Swiss companies to potentially come in and use the facility on a ongoing or temporary basis. See if there’s not some synergy between Curiosity Lab and some Swiss tech companies. And they were very impressed. There was a lot of ideas thrown out. There’s a lot of action items we have afterwards. But it is no secret, nor is it by chance, that a lot of the international companies that we have here are a result of us having put ourselves in a position where somebody whose job from another country is to keep their eyes and ears watching ways for them to further their countries’ companies. That they hear and see, and they’re like, we want to come out there. And they do and as a result, we have a lot of international activity here. We just had a Portuguese company that moved into the innovation center. That’s what the Swiss were here to do. And I have high hopes that we’re going to get some activity from them and maybe we’ll get some chocolate, watches, all the other generalized things that come from Switzerland.
[00:03:12] Rico: Well, let’s move on then to the French American chamber of commerce that is actually going to move their offices to the Curiosity Lab. So how’d that come about and what does that mean also for technology here and for companies from France, maybe moving here?
[00:03:25] Brian: Well, if there was, yeah, no easier segue than from one international, one to the other. As we’re talking about becoming more known on the international stage. The French American chamber of commerce, which exists here, obviously like other chambers of commerce, is to provide a social, a civic link between companies from a particular country and ours. We have relationships with others like the Israel American chamber and others like that. But in this case, the French American chamber was doing its thing. And we got on their radar screen, specifically in this case, we actually have a gentleman who was a board member of it. His name is Bertrand Lapoire. He lives here in Peachtree corners. His kids go to school here. Very rooted in the community. And he reached out, very interested in what we were doing here, both personally and from his vantage point of being a board member. And we just started talking. And introduced to each other, started getting included in the French American chamber. We started doing things with them and they started getting more interested in what we have going on. Fast forward, I don’t know, a year or so. And the French government created a program called La French Tech and to paraphrase and boil it down, the program was essentially to pick, I believe it was six locations in the US for the French government to choose as a targeted landing spot for French tech companies to come into the US so there was kind of a competitive process. They threw this out to cities throughout the US and said, Hey, we want to do this. We want to establish a more formal pipeline. And we threw our hat in the ring. And of course, I say Peachtree Corners, oftentimes these things are result of us having to educate people on the offerings and the benefits of being in Metro Atlanta. Obviously if Peachtree Corners by itself was just by itself. We couldn’t be handling some of this stuff. We’re punching outside of our weight class as it is. But the Metro Atlanta economic development ecosystem, that’s here. From the Metro Atlanta chamber to the state’s department of economic development to Gwinnett County’s chamber, Partnership Gwinnett, and lots of other, a ton of other organizations that help. We leverage that by reminding them that we are also a part of Metro Atlanta and there’s a lot of all these offerings. Anyway, we threw our hat in the ring. And along with a city in Silicon valley, one up in research triangle, I believe, New York city. Let’s see, I think Austin, Texas. Of the locations we were one of the six. And so we are one of the six. And the exact landing location within Metro Atlanta is the Curiosity Lab innovation center. And of course, once they get there that opens the door for other things and they can move around. And obviously we have relationships with Georgia Tech, ATDC, and others. But their exact landing spot is here. And so the French American Chamber felt like it was in their best interest to further their mission of trying to help perpetuate, help expand and facilitate French tech companies doing various things in the U S that they would be best served to be physically located at the same location where these companies are coming in. So they moved their offices out of the French consulate and into our innovation center. And so this Thursday, we’ve got a big grand opening event where we’re going to celebrate having a permanent French presence inside the innovation center for the purposes of facilitating technology companies and research and testing here, Curiosity Lab from France.
[00:07:45] Rico: If anything proves that technology opens boarders, this is one of them. I mean, internet has shown that you can be anywhere and order anything and be delivered within a day even. Within the day, within hours, almost. So technology, 5G, autonomous vehicles, all that stuff. It’s just, to see that all happening here. And I appreciate what you were saying before. Punching, you know, in your weight class. Because the intuitive surgical company that announced some weeks ago that they were going to bring 1200 new jobs to Peachtree Corners couldn’t have happened without the state also helping, right? Incentives from the city, from the county, I think as well. All that, we don’t live in a small little cylinder here. So we’re taking the city through leadership, political leadership, as well as leadership on your end. And I think advantage of where we can to bring economic impact into the city. It’s a cool thing to be able to have and talk about this and bring jobs over a period of time. And that doorway with the French American chamber, it was like you said, another place that once they hear that can bring more work, more companies coming out here.
[00:08:52] Brian: Yeah. You just never know these portals sometimes open possibilities that you would never have. And vice versa, there could be some American companies that find that there’s this back and forth. It’s not a one-way street. They may end up finding a market in France or a partner as a French company to help scale up their product that they wouldn’t have without it. So it’s not always a one way street. We, like to stress that. Obviously we like to see the activity here, but if we’re that conduit going the other way, that means that people will talk and we’ll get other companies here. Very little investment to do this other than creating relationships, ensuring that the city continues to maintain a testing environment, this living laboratory that is very easy, inexpensive, but yet secure to use. And words getting out and activities happening, and sky’s the limit right now.
[00:09:50] Rico: It seems to be. And the world’s changing, COVID and all that. We’re seeing more of a move at least through the Biden administration of away from petrol. Trying to move away from petrol towards more sustainable energy and possibly electric or alternative vehicles. So I mean, the future’s out there. Forbes magazine even covered or highlighted a bit of what we were doing here, I think. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about that as well?
[00:10:14] Brian: We got on Forbes radar screen about some of the electric vehicle activity that we have here. Specifically the fact that we are both getting ready to have our, if you want to call it kickoff. And I’ll save some of this for the event, but four autonomous shuttles from two different manufacturers, two different OEMs. Coincidentally, one of the two original equipment manufacturers, what OEM stands for, one of the two is actually a French company. But they were talking about that as well as the electric vehicle research we have here to help facilitate what, like you said, might be a greater demand on the use or the need for batteries than we’ve ever seen. If President Biden’s initiative and a lot of this infrastructure legislation is passed, there is a huge amount of pressure to get off the internal combustion engine and get into electric vehicles. That’s not as simple as some people think. You still have a lot of battery charging, battery swapping, battery disposal, things that you’ve got to talk about. And a lot of that’s being done here. And so Forbes took notice and did an article on us. So I get surprised everyday myself sometimes. My CTO and I were talking about another article and we pull it up and sure enough, right there, Forbes comes up and we’re like, wow, we just got on Forbes. So it’s, a wild ride right now.
[00:11:45] Rico: Yeah, I would think. It’s great to have national attention like that. Local companies, local publications, like the Atlanta business Chronicle, featuring a story about Peachtree Corners, experience a real Renaissance by attracting business. And that was a nice article that they wrote just the beginning of this month that they put out that talked a bit about, a recap of the jobs coming here. Of companies that were going to leave, but decided they were going to stay instead. We’re not talking about small amounts here. We’re talking about tens of thousands of, and hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space, even during this COVID environment.
[00:12:20] Brian: And Rico, you and I are both residents here. So if we put on our resident hat, if we didn’t know what was going on, we would be like, okay, what’s the big deal with this? What’s in it for me? Why does the Swiss ambassador or the French American chamber, why do I care about any of it? And you just hit the nail on the head. And that is what’s happening is our local economy is benefiting from it immensely. Whether it’s companies that were going to leave and did not. Hapag-Lloyd right at the corner of Spalding and Peachtree Parkway, they were looking to leave. And we were able to not only convince them not to leave, but then they closed another location and moved in here. And so they expanded by a couple hundred employees in that space. We have retained business. We have helped business expand by hundreds of employees. I mean, CarMax, liked their first experience here just expanded. Soliant liked their experience here. They hadn’t been here a long time but they not only liked their experience, but they liked the fact that we’ve got a lot of energy and synergy around economic development and other emerging companies, innovative companies, and they want to be a part of it. And then of course you go to the ones that’s always the, it gets the most press and that’s the recruitment. And we get some new companies here, but obviously Intuitive being the big one recently. Just think about this, aside from permanent jobs, aside from that, which means we have stable home values and healthy community and all that kind of stuff. Intuitive’s business model, their campus they’re creating here, which will have all of the training for all the surgeons that are working in hospitals on the Eastern seaboard are going to come here to get trained. And so part of the investment commitment Intuitive made to Georgia and pastry Corners, they’re going to generate at least 16,000 overnight hotel room stays per year or more. Just that. So Intuitive deciding to expand here, build their east coast headquarters here, create 1200 plus jobs exceeding $130,000 salary average. That’s all great. Don’t get me wrong. But then you want to talk about local economy and how it will help all of us as residences. That’s a lot of hotel rooms by a lot of visiting surgeons. So these aren’t like ones that are, at least they shouldn’t be paupers and not have a lot of disposable income. But they’re staying in a hotel here at least a week, sometimes a month or longer, depending on how much training they’re getting at once. And they’re needing to do something. And so that’s restaurants, that’s hotels, that’s shopping, that’s all sorts of things that feed our local economy. So this stuff does matter, even though it may be an international story. That’s how you generate excitement, generate interest, generate just awareness. And then we go from there.
[00:15:34] Rico: Yeah, it’s amazing how it just builds on itself. And you’re right. The economic impact is way beyond just the jobs and the visits and stuff. Especially in this, in a city like Peachtree Corners that is still growing and finding its way over the past decade. The Peachtree Corners Festival coming up in September with all local events that are coming and even new ones that we don’t even know are going to be coming this way. Obviously there is that event I think happening in October also was that conference.
[00:16:03] Brian: Oh, the V2X conference.
[00:16:04] Rico: The V2X conference, right.
[00:16:06] Brian: If COVID doesn’t. Yeah, I mean.
[00:16:08] Rico: Well right. If it doesn’t do it to us.
[00:16:12] Brian: But Rico, if it doesn’t happen because of COVID, it will be postponed. It will not be canceled.
[00:16:18] Rico: I’m sure and there’s events that are happening. We’re a co-sponsor of Japan Fest, which is supposed to be happening at Gas Out, but that was postponed just this week. They decided to postpone that. There’s events that are going to be postponed. Then you’ve got Shaky Knees in Atlanta, the concerts that are going to happen. They’re out in the open and they’re still going it seems. So and they’re starting up in two weeks or something. So we’re still here and there’s even more. Like the secretary of transportation came to visit a couple of weeks ago to talk a bit about, to see what we were doing with the TV stations and what we’re doing with the Curiosity Lab. So tell us about what that visit does for the Peachtree Corners City. Having someone like that show up.
[00:16:58] Brian: So we just got done talking a little bit about on the international front, how it benefits us. But domestically we also stand to benefit by getting on certain people’s radar screen. That started actually before Secretary Buttigieg was here with our representative to the US house. That is Carolyn Bourdeaux. She was elected, what has it been almost a year ago? I guess it was January when she came in, but she is very interested in technology. Things that she can do in the suburbs to help with transportation, transit. Things that sometimes we think are only scalable in an urban area, she’s really taken an interest. And up in DC it appears that she had done, I’m not sure what all she did. But she elevated Curiosity Lab to a point where Secretary Buttigieg had, what was essentially an advanced team, come out to our location and asked if they could come out and essentially put me on notice that look, we’re here to see if this location is worth the secretary coming out. And at the end of that hour of me talking to them and showing them some things, they were like, oh yeah, he’s coming here. I don’t know, two weeks later, he ultimately came here with Representative Bourdeaux and with the Commissioner of Transportation for Georgia, Russell McMurry. And as well as a number of other, local leaders from our county commission chair to other state representative state centers. Anyway, the main benefit here are twofold. One is there are a number of agencies that regulate the activity that is going on right here. Two of them that we deal with a lot because of the companies that are wanting to test here is NITSA and FAA. Of course, we all know Federal Aviation Administration, they regulate everything that’s in the air. So when it comes to drones, we’re dealing with them a lot. These companies are dealing with them a lot. And the other one’s NITSA. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. They’re the ones who regulate what happens on our roadways or essentially what is, or is not a vehicle. And so they’re the ones regulating our autonomous vehicle activity here. Both those agencies work for the Secretary of Transportation. And so when secretary Buttigieg was here, one of the things he asked me when I was presenting is what challenges am I seeing? And I did tell him, I said, one of the things we’re seeing is we’ve got some, not just cutting edge, bleeding edge technology that’s happening here. And your regulatory agencies are oftentimes trying to play catch up to try to write regulations, to regulate some of this stuff that’s just emerging. And I said, one of our challenges is that it’s holding some of the evolution of this technology back. They’re ready to go, but they can’t because they’re being held back because of these agencies. And the whole time, the only time I saw him take out a little note pad thing from his coat and write down something was when I said that. You know, we got some follow on action items, but I would love to see them maybe have a more active presence here to help facilitate some of this. But so that’s one. And then the second one is that sometimes the city likes to oftentimes step up and be a part of the evolution of technology ourselves. And so it’s nice for there to be things like the solar roadway that we’ve got out here that we’re doing first in the world, testing on it, being on a public street. Attached to an active working electric vehicle charging station that’s not pulling off the grid, if it runs out of power. I mean, these are some things that we’re doing. So it’s kind of cool sometimes for the city to say, yeah, maybe we were part of the evolution of that particular technology. And so secretary and others wanted to see some of the things that are happening here because they’re interested in how close or far away it is and what they can do to help. So it helps us on a number of fronts. But yeah, right now we’ve got things humming pretty well on both the domestic and the international front. We’ve got some people who have a little bit of rank, so to speak that are coming around. Kicking the tires, seeing what’s going on. So it’s kinda cool. It also can be fatiguing because they come with a lot of advanced parties, whether it’s to detail secret service advance, so there’s a lot of that. I’ve had to hone up on my protocol skills just to know which side of the table to sit on with some of these people, but it’s a cool problem to have.
[00:21:50] Rico: I would think. Exciting problem to have and good friends to have. I mean, Carolyn Bourdeaux being able to bring down secretary of transportation. These are all good things for the city to have. Political strength there, an interest from the federal government and the state. And the city, like you said, is doing a lot of things too. The EV charging stations, I think the city is providing administration of funds on for businesses as well as local people that want to be able to have their own EV charging stations. So that’s an application process, I believe that has to go into the city. So I mean, the city’s promoting stuff like that. So if someone wants to get in, if some business wants to put five EV stations at their business location, they could go to the city to talk about that. So there’s all that going on. You could consider that almost national stuff. Interesting things. But then we have local things going on. So let’s cut a little bit into that as well and let people know what’s going on a little bit. There’s new restaurants coming in. I know that the city approved several licenses. Liquor licenses that were approved, like for Fly Chef restaurant, Crabs ‘R’ Us is coming. So there’s a bunch of that going on. So the city, even though, people talk about going out, restaurants and stuff, there are restaurants opening in the city. Still hard to find employees, right? I’m still seeing signs all over the place. Anywhere from $10 to $15 an hour. I don’t know what the city can do with that, but certainly there is a demand out there for more employees, more jobs out there it seems. At least on a service level that we’re talking about.
[00:23:21] Brian: There are. I mean, we have job fairs both for restaurant and hospitality. Because the hotels are hurting as well. But yeah, we certainly are seeing, we’ve got a number of restaurants that can’t even, aren’t even open all day for the normal times that they would, because there’s not a lot of waitstaff.
[00:23:41] Rico: And I saw Salada also has limited their hours. It’s funny because I put a dinner order on their app and it got to the end, it says they’re closed. And they’re only limited from 11 to 4:00 PM is what they’re doing. So yeah, there is work out there or at least a certain type of work. Part time and stuff. But, those rates, those hourly rates aren’t going up. They just have to find their way there. Also the Grace Korean church, they got approved right? For their special use permit. And Summit gas station, they were looking for some buffer reductions and actually the city didn’t go with that. That was denied, that special use. That would really cut down the buffer on those areas. But the city looked at that.
[00:24:21] Brian: Yeah. Mayor and council, did look at that and said, look, were it not for you wanting to build a gas station, which requires a bigger footprint than a normal, like a different commercial one, because you’ve got to have the pump separate from the building and you’ve got certain distances. So it takes a bigger footprint. So council felt like look, there was no hardship because the owner could build plenty of things on there. Plenty of uses. He had just wanted to do a gas station and it just takes too much. And it’s not to say that they thought it was a bad location. Had it not been for the fact that there was existing residential with a buffer that would have been removed and it would have affected their quality of life.
[00:25:08] Rico: And I’m surprised that they didn’t look at that to begin with. I think they bought that property knowing what it was there and they should have asked those questions ahead of time to see if there was any interest in allowing them to do that.
[00:25:21] Brian: You’d be surprised what people buy with the assumption that they’re going to get a rezone, Rico. It’s sad, and then they get all worked up and threaten lawsuit. Do your due diligence.
[00:25:31] Rico: At this point, I’m not surprised. There are people out there that will buy stuff and not even do the due diligence and just expect to get what they want. Which is like ridiculous. Anything else going on in the city? Coming up that we should know about? That we should share?
[00:25:45] Brian: I mean, you know, fall festival. So that’s coming in just under two weeks that’s of course a huge deal. We are looking to do a decathlon. That’s our next podcast, we can talk about it. It’ll be sometime in mid November. A decathlon around, a unique one around the fitness stations in our fitness trail by the town green.
[00:26:10] Rico: I spoke with City Councilman Alex Wright about that. And he actually shared the logo on it, which looks really cool. And they’re adding, you guys are adding, and this is like a city sponsored event versus an event that the city allows happening in a play. So the city is actually putting this event on. And you’re adding 10 more pieces of equipment, I guess, to that.
[00:26:30] Brian: Well, no. We’re adding three more to get to ten.
[00:26:33] Rico: I’m sorry. Three more, that’s what I mean.
[00:26:35] Brian: We’ll have 10 individual stations that people will rotate through to see. They’ll have to do certain things a certain amount of time and the quicker you can do it the more time you have to rest. And it’ll be five minute increments before you have to move to the next one. So yeah, we can talk about that. Another thing that gets activity to the town center. Another event that’s unique to the area that offers a certain segment of the population something to do. So we’re looking forward to that. But no, we’ve always got, we talked about some of these, more high-profile things. But we still have potholes to patch and you’ve got other things going on that are not as sexy but no less important. And of course, like to remind everybody we’re doing all of this stuff without property tax. So still trying to keep costs of living in the city very low.
[00:27:29] Rico: It’s amazing that the city can do all it’s doing without property tax. Because you see other cities, every other city around here has a property tax. So the fact that our city doesn’t is really good.
[00:27:41] Brian: It’s our local economy. We’ve got to make sure that’s strong and if it’s generating sales tax and good business license, and we can do this. It’s when we take our foot off the gas is where we’re going to get into trouble. So we have no intention of doing that.
[00:27:54] Rico: And you were talking about events and stuff like the festival and the decathlon. Even the corn hole, the corn hole games. I didn’t realize they attract almost, they had I think almost 200 registrants for the league here in Peachtree Corners alone. And they operate these things all over Atlanta. So even the little things like that.
[00:28:13] Brian: Yeah, or the Georgia Clemson game. I mean that one out at the town green was very well attended because people were like, oh, look, I can watch these games at home. Obviously I could go to it. But then I also have a unique experience and I could leave the house. I can be outside and watch it on a big screen. Great weather. Do it with friends. Have a libation and have a great experience. And nothing makes an experience, a Georgia football game, any better than when we beat a top five team.
[00:28:47] Rico: That’s for sure.
[00:28:50] Brian: That’s exactly right. That made it even better. Little things add up. Quality of life is why people live where they do.
[00:28:56] Rico: That’s true. Even this weekend coming up for those that might hear this before this weekend September 11th is another concert night, music on the town green. Sundogs is going to be performing. So you know, all these things really provide a good atmosphere for everyone. I did have a question for you too. I’ve noticed, probably should have asked you this before we started the podcast, but it just came to mind. Earth moving behind Chase Bank. That property is the Robert’s property. And I don’t know if that’s Earth moving or them just putting out trucks over there and stuff. But anything new going on there?
[00:29:29] Brian: No, the behind Chase Bank, not right now. You have two things that are going on in the area. The old black Walnut building was renovated. What’s the name of the steakhouse? H&W?
[00:29:42] Rico: Yeah, H&W I think.
[00:29:46] Brian: So they did some renovation in the back, so it could have been that. And then of course our multi-use trail is going in along the Creek there that separates the Lazy Dog and the parking deck from the other side. And it’s got a trail that is both elevated, up on stilts, if you will. And it also has one that is going to go down into the Creek itself. And so there’s some construction going on with that. So they could have been pre-staging on one side because it just made it easier to get in then trying to go through the town center. But those are the only things happening.
[00:30:24] Rico: Okay. And anything new on the multi-use development that was approved? With that reuse of the four story, five story office building, and those one story condos?
[00:30:33] Brian: 5720 Peachtree Parkway, right? So right now they are working on the official architectural construction documents and the final engineering of the plat. They will take, these developers will take a project only so far before they have the rezoning. Because if they spend too much money and they don’t get it, then all that work was flushed down the toilet. So they are doing that. And I’ve been told that they’re hoping to break ground on that before the end of the calendar year.
[00:31:07] Rico: Alright. Cool. Okay. And I guess the other, the one last thing is the Jimmy Carter Boulevard where the old Upton’s shopping center I guess. It used to be Upton’s department store in there, or one of the gyms were in there after that I think. LA fitness, right? Anything new? I know they sold at one point, I think it was only a 40% occupancy or something like that. I’m just curious if there was anything new going on there that you hear.
[00:31:35] Brian: There is. They have a new owner. That’s considering some options, including some discussions with our redevelopment authority.
[00:31:43] Rico: Excellent. Okay, cool. Good. So maybe we’ll get more news on that. I know that’s an area that’s ripe for development. That whole side of Jimmy Carter. But this was great. I appreciate giving us a zoom call, so to speak on this.
[00:31:59] Brian: Rico as always, thanks for the opportunity and the vehicle for the city to allow some of this stuff to get out. It’s important. And the more educated and knowledgeable our citizenry is, the better. So I appreciate that opportunity for those who watch to be a little bit more informed than they were before the show started.
[00:32:20] Rico: I’m glad to hear that. And Peachtree Corners magazine we’re working on the next issue for the October, November. Putting that together. We’ll have that by the end of this month, we’ll have that all in place. So keep checking us on social media guys. If you like this podcast, certainly share it with your friends. Also give a review on Apple or Spotify or any of those where we’re on. This way we’ll be more searchable as well. And check out our sister podcast, which is starting up with three new episodes in the next few weeks, the Capitalist Sage. We’ll be talking to local business people. One of the leaders of ASHRAE in fact, will be on the podcast soon. Talking about things going on here in the Metro area business-wise and what we can learn from them. So check that out. Go to LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com and learn more about this city. Thank you.
Paper Shredding, Electronics Recycling Event
A free electronics recycling and paper shredding event will take place at the Peachtree Corners City Hall at 310 Technology Parkway on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, from 9 a.m. to noon or until trucks are full.
Residents are limited to five (5) medium-size boxes of paper materials. Most electronics are free to recycle. LCD flat screen monitors are free to recycle. There is a fee for CRT (large-backed, heavy monitors or televisions) of .40 per pound. E-waste staff will weigh the devices and collect payment directly. Cash or checks are accepted.
This event is open to Peachtree Corners residents ONLY.
PC Power Supplies
OK to Shred:
- Anything made of paper. No need to remove:
- Paper clips
- Binder clips
- Hanging folders (with metal strips)
- Manila folders
- Paper board legal binders
- Spiral notebook binders
- Thin plastic sheet protectors
- Must remove (in advance):
- 3-ring binders
- Plastic (such as CD cases or plastic folders)
- Office supplies (pens, staplers, etc.)
- Computer cables
- Cell phones
- Batteries (combustible)
- Food or other garbage
If you, or your company, would like to volunteer at this event, please contact Jennifer Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org
Four Qualify for Three Council Seats in Upcoming Peachtree Corners Elections
Three council seats are up for election in Peachtree Corners. Qualifying for the November 2021 municipal elections took place Aug. 16 –18 at City Hall. Incumbents Eric Christ (Post 2), Jeanne Aulbach (Post 4) and Weare Gratwick (6) all qualified and are seeking re-election. Additionally, Joe Sawyer has qualified and is seeking the Post 4 council seat.
Aulbach and Gratwick have held their seats since the city incorporated as Gwinnett County’s
newest city in July 2012.
Christ has served on the city council since May 2016, after winning in a special election to fill
the Post 2 seat vacated by James Lowe who resigned to run for the state representative seat for
The 2021 city elections will be held Tuesday, Nov. 2 at Peachtree Corners City Hall, 310
Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners, GA 30092.
All municipal elections take place at Peachtree Corners City Hall regardless of polling places for county, state or federal elections. Only residents of the incorporated City of Peachtree Corners are eligible to vote for Mayor and Council and other elections.
For additional questions, please contact City Clerk Kym Chereck via email at email@example.com or by calling City Hall at 678-691-1200.
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- Police Citizens Advisory Board to host first Town Hall on public safety
- ASHRAE: Changing the value of a building and setting standards for the world
- Learn How A Full Event Production Company Handled Growth, Pause and the Challenges of Coming Back
- Find out why Lisamarie Bristol is Running for Gwinnett Solicitor-General?
- What does the French American Chamber, 5G, and the Secretary of Transportation have in Common?