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A Look Inside the UPCCA: United Peachtree Corners Civic Association



The UPCCA team. Photos courtesy of UPCCA.

You may have wondered what it was like to work for the United Peachtree Corners
Civic Association (UPCCA)
. We’ve spoken with Gay Shook and Debbie Mason to find out about how the organization works, what they do and what they’re looking forward to for the future of Peachtree Corners.

Longtime UPCCA member Gay Shook started out in the newspaper business. Her husband Ron worked for the New York Times for more than 30 years and retired as VP of his regional group.

From editor to chairman

When they moved to Peachtree Corners over 35 years ago, he noticed that Gwinnett County did not have its own newspaper. He saw a niche in the market and took a chance, starting the “The Weekly.” He even pulled some strings with contacts at the New York Times, who helped design “The Weekly’s” masthead. He then asked his wife, Gay, to be the editor, and they worked at the newspaper together.

The paper covered from Norcross to Duluth, turning out great news and talented journalists. Politicians even began to pay attention, Gay said. “We wrecked a few careers. Let’s just say, if your moral compass spins, I am going to know about it.”

When her husband fell ill in 1997, they had no choice but to consolidate to an online version. By this point, Gay had her pick of organizations to join, and she chose the UPCCA. She became the Chairman of the Peachtree Corners Improvement Project.

“Peachtree Parkway looks as good as it does now because of us,” she beamed. They should be proud. The parkway is clean and green with manicured roadsides and tree-lined streets. It doesn’t have any of the usual eyesores you would see on a major highway.

“Developers knew that if they wanted anything, they had to go through us,” Gay said. She remembers their reputation preceding them with community leaders.

UPCCA Cleanup

What you may not know is that the UPCCA actually got the help of Tech Park for the major cleanup project. They conducted a study and took aerial shots of the parkway to help calculate how much money it would take for mowing and garbage pickup. In the end, they came up with $1.41 per square foot as a goal for the cleanup project. The organization used that number to estimate how much money they would need to raise every year.

UPCCA decided to go with Piedmont Landscaping Company for the project because the President, Drew Watkins, was willing to go the extra mile. “There was an ugly pit next to the access road behind what is now Chicago Hot Dog,” Gay said. I asked him if there was anything he could do to make it nicer, and he made it happen.”

Securing the sign

But the greatest uphill battle that she remembers from her days in the UPCCA was the talisman to this beautiful city, the Peachtree Corners entrance sign. Originally, it was supposed to be positioned off the exit near what is now the Target shopping center. Gay had bigger plans, but that involved seeking special permission from the Georgia Highway Association.

The commissioner of the Department of Transportation, Russel McMurry — who you may know as the person in charge of fixing the infamous burned overpass in Atlanta — was working as a district engineer at the time when he gave them the go ahead for the sign.

Then it was just a matter of finding a way to secure funds for the sign, and it was Representative Tom Rice who handed Gay the answer. He notified the UPCCA about a special grant that the city could apply for, and the county would match the funds to reach their goal.

The city got the grant, but even with that, the funds for the sign fell short. It was Paul Duke himself who provided his last gift to the City of Peachtree Corners. The UPCCA decided to get creative and change the sign — including the words “Entering Paul Duke Parkway” — and the Duke family made up the difference for the iconic entranceway we see today.

“When you enter, you know you’re in Peachtree Corners, because it looks different than any other suburb of Atlanta,” Gay said, noting that all the group’s efforts were definitely worth it. “It just goes to show, you can make anything happen, all you need is the right person to help.”

The first lady gets involved

Gay said she believes that the community members of Peachtree Corners are what make this city so special. Members like Peachtree Corners developer and innovator Jim Cowart. “I saw him do things for people that nobody knew about. If someone had a baby, they would find a baby basket full of supplies on their doorstep a few days later,” Gay shared. “And I knew so many people like that, who were always doing things for other people silently.”

Other important people in UPCCA’s success story include the first lady of Peachtree Corners, Debbie Mason. Mason joined the UPCCA in 2007. Her husband, Mayor Mike Mason, was one of the founding members of the organization and eventually went on to be the president.

Mayor Mike Mason gives a safety speech.

When Debbie’s oldest son graduated college, Mike asked her to become a member. She took over as chairman of the Peachtree Parkway improvement project from Gay. “I was like Gay 2.0,” Debbie joked, “I treated the project with just as much love as her.”

The city eventually took over the highway improvement project and the UPCCA donated any leftover funds to the city. “I was glad to be rid of it,” Debbie remarked about the more than $25,000 worth of funds they procured over the years. “It definitely was a labor of love.”

UPCCA keeps it all together

So what have the members of the UPCCA been up to since achieving cityhood in 2010? “People always ask: what do we still need the UPCCA for, now that we’re a city?” Debbie said. She explained that, even though they don’t have any real pull in government office, the UPCCA acts as the liaison representing the people of Peachtree Corners to the county. In matters where the city and the county don’t always agree, Debbie knows the UPCCA will always side with the citizens. “We keep the community connected at a time when people are as disconnected as they’ve ever been,” she said.

And connected we are. The UPCCA now coordinates tons of city-wide meetings which are open to anyone. “We maintain a level of transparency with the city,” Debbie said. Those meetings include their annual C.O.P.S. meeting, which allows residents to keep an open line of communication with the Gwinnett Police Department and stay informed about what is going on in their community. It always has a huge turnout.

There is also the “Great American Cleanup” where Peachtree Corners compete for the award in “most pounds of trash picked up.” Not to mention the annual $1,000 scholarship the association gives to two resident students of the community. Despite the pandemic, Debbie is still planning the Peachtree Corners Festival, but it will likely be moved to later in the year than June.

This year, the UPCCA will also be bringing back the “Star Award Program” to recognize the unsung heroes of Peachtree Corners. Speaking of unsung heroes, Debbie was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer; even though she recognizes that it could be potentially problematic, she still plans on being involved in the UPCCA as much as possible.

“This will be the biggest challenge I have ever had to overcome. But I just have to try and listen to my body, and say no when I don’t have the energy,” Debbie said.

From the pandemic to the tumultuous election, Gay and Debbie are looking forward to seeing how the events of the last year will affect the future of Peachtree Corners. But one thing will always stay the same — UPCCA’s dedication to serving its community.

To stay up to date on all the UPCCA events or nominate your hero, visit UPCCA.gov and subscribe to their newsletter.

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Redline Property Partners Sells Parcel at Sun Court for Mixed-Use Development



2 sun court

Real estate investment firm Redline Property Partners has sold excess land at its Sun Court project in Peachtree Corners for development as a mixed-use property. It will create a live-work-play destination in Technology Park.

Spalding Site Partners LLC, a development partnership led by Fred Kay and Bruce Fernald, has acquired the 2.2-acre site. The new development will include 170 high-end residential units, ground-floor retail, fitness center and an extension to the Peachtree Corners public trail system.

The site is located adjacent to the 2 Sun Court office building in the heart of Peachtree Corners, just off Peachtree Parkway. The new development will join Redline’s four-story, 98,040-square-foot office tower Sun Court on the site.

“We are thrilled to put this excess land into development, bringing even more best-in-class amenities to our Sun Court office tenants,” said Andrew Webb, Redline’s President and Managing Partner. “With this development, Sun Court will become an even more vibrant live-work-play destination in Peachtree Corners.”

Redline purchased the Sun Court property in 2017 and immediately began building-wide capital improvements to the office tower, including rebranding the building and renovating all common areas, plus creating a new outdoor tenant lounge.

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Commercial Roofing Company Continues Legacy of Excellence



Jay Thornton & Eric Abell at Parsons Roofing New Office Ribbon Cutting

Parsons Roofing recently moved its headquarters to Peachtree Corners to remain close to family and poised for growth in the southeast U.S.

Those familiar with local history know that the Parsons surname is synonymous with development in the area. The Parsons Family Stores were staples for more than a century.

Calvin Parsons and his wife Kate inherited her father’s general store that began in 1876 as a single trading post outside of Lawrenceville. Parsons grew the business to several stores throughout north Georgia that sold everything from groceries, clothing, and dry goods to hardware and building materials.

Today, the Parsons name continues its legacy of quality service in the southwest Gwinnett County area. Parsons Roofing Company recently moved operations to Peachtree Corners. Its owner, Jay Thornton, is the great-grandson of Calvin Parsons.

In the 1960s, the building supply division moved to a separate location south of downtown Duluth and was operated by Jay Thornton’s grandfather. One of the Duluth location’s mainstays was selling roofing products. 

The present-day Parsons Roofing Company is a commercial roofing contractor and no longer sells roofing products. The company now focuses on the installation, repair, and restoration of commercial roofs.

As a fifth-generation member of a family dedicated to hard work and forward vision, Thornton noted that Parsons Roofing Company has grown into a regional business with clients across the southeast. 

Thornton started a residential shingle roofing company out of his grandmother’s basement 10 years ago. His work ethic and dedication to quality helped his business take off. He gained a partner in Eric Abell and eventually turned the focus to commercial projects.

“I started this company with a strong belief that consumers need a roofer they can trust. Before I started Parsons Roofing, I had worked in the roofing industry for years and was disheartened. Every company I worked for cared about money first and the customer second,” Thornton states on his company website.

“I felt that it should be the opposite. I believe that if you are honest and take care of the customer first, everything else will fall into place. So that’s what we’ve built our business on here at Parsons As our customer, you’ll feel the trust and respect for your needs from us right away.”

Growing the business

Abell and Thornton opened up their first office in the Chamblee area as Prestige Roofing in 2018. The business model was so successful, they outgrew the space. As it turned out, they continued to outgrow their accommodations so they’re now in a space on Medlock Bridge Road in Peachtree Corners. 

The move is perfect for many reasons, said Jennifer Sudderth, director of sales and marketing. It’s near family and the community that the company wants to be a part of, it’s in the heart of metro Atlanta — one of the hottest commercial building markets in the country — and it’s centrally located to other growth areas where Parsons plans to extend business, like Nashville, Orlando, and Raleigh.

The company already has major projects in the works in Nashville with plans to open an office there by the end of the year. Next will be satellite offices in Orlando and Raleigh, keeping a manageable distance from home base.

Although the pandemic may have had adverse effects on many businesses, Sudderth said Parsons Roofing barely felt the impact.

“Roofing is a need, not a want,” she said. “If you’re a commercial operation with a leaky roof, there’s not an option to put it off.”

And supply issues didn’t plague the business, either. Most roofing companies don’t keep a lot of inventory, and commercial roofing doesn’t come in a variety of styles and colors. It was possible to store enough supplies to get through rough patches when goods weren’t being transported on time.

Even though Parsons Roofing isn’t going to be a household name, the company believes in community connections and family ties. It has joined local chambers of commerce and other business organizations and is involved in philanthropic endeavors locally.

Although Peachtree Corners is the largest city in Gwinnett County, it has a small-town, homey vibe, said Sudderth.

That hometown connection, along with expanded technology, economic development, and business growth, should keep Parsons Roofing in the area for another century.

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NAC International Signs New Lease at 2 Sun Office Building



A world-leading provider of nuclear fuel cycle technology and consulting solutions,NAC International, has signed a lease at 2 Sun in Peachtree Corners. The company is leasing 23,000 square feet lease in the Class-A office building.

The 98,040-square-foot property in Technology Park recently underwent significant renovations to add amenities. 2 Sun now offers an outdoor tenant patio, campus-wide Wi-Fi and food delivery service for tenants.

Lincoln Property Company Southeast, one of the U.S.’s largest diversified commercial real estate companies, and Redline Property Partners made the lease announcement. Lincoln’s Senior Vice President Michael Howell, Vice President Matt Fergus and Senior Leasing Associate Seabie Hickson represented the landlord, Redline Property Partners. Cory Hall and Bo Keatley of Savills represented the tenant.

“Peachtree Corners is one of the premier business atmospheres in metro Atlanta, and 2 Sun offers a range of first-rate amenities both on and near the property,” said Lincoln’s Fergus. “The recent capital improvements allow 2 Sun to capture growing demand in the submarket.”

Northeast Atlanta continues to outperform other submarkets over the past couple of years, boasting the lowest vacancy rate among major metro Atlanta areas at just 15.9% across all property classes.

The office submarket also saw positive absorption of 5,117 square feet in Q3 of this year, marking the fifth quarter in the past six with positive absorption, according to a report from Lincoln.

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