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The Forum has new owners, a new rezoning applicant for multi-use [Podcast]

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This episode talks about The Forum on Peachtree Parkway being sold to North American Properties, an upcoming rezoning request for multi-use along Peachtree Parkway, a town center playground update, and more. Join your host Rico Figliolini and guest City Manager Brian Johnson on Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager.

Timestamp:

[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:01:35] – Purchase of the Forum
[00:07:19] – The Push for Residential
[00:14:56] – How Peachtree Corners is Growing
[00:18:13] – Israeli Consul General Visiting
[00:20:20] – New Playground Updates
[00:26:58] – Closing

“We know that the Forum’s a critical part, and its success is the City’s success. It helps generate a lot of revenue that we in turn can use to provide services back to our stakeholders. Whether it be streets or multi-use paths, or even keeping a zero millage rate. And we are excited about working with the North American Properties, trying to take the property and  take it to the next level. And so we’re rolling up our sleeves, getting ready to get that started.”

Brian johnson

[00:00:30] Rico: Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life and today’s Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager. Hey, Brian, how are you?

[00:00:38] Brian: Rico, good. How are you?

[00:00:40] Rico: Great. It’s good to have you on. This particular episode, we’re going to be talking a little bit about the new purchase that’s finally closed this past Friday, with the Forum of Peachtree Parkway. And Brian’s going to help us out with some detail on that. The new owners, North American Properties has taken it over. They are a company that is well-known for working with Avalon and Atlantic Station. They run and own those areas as well as others. So they found, obviously, an opportunity here that they believe they can take and invest in and actually grow the Forum into a great product. And a great place for us, a great space for us to live in, if you will. So we’re going to talk a little bit about that and a little bit about progress on the playground that’s going on, being built across the way at Town Center. And just a couple of other things, but let’s start off with the Forum purchase. Bryan, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what’s going on there now? What’s the latest?

[00:01:35] Brian: Well, like you said, North American Properties closed on the property on this past Friday. Their interest in the Forum is kind of in line with what they’ve done at some other properties of late. Instead of being involved in brand new mixed use developments, they’ve liked to find properties that are maybe in great areas. And ones that, maybe they feel like from an ownership and management company, they can improve the property a little bit by investing in it and then operating it instead of spinning it off to have somebody else operate it. And so they’ve done that in a couple locations already and they think that the Forum is right for that. Not only are they excited about the community that is around the Forum, the traffic count that’s near the Forum, the history and the name that it has, but it has good bones. And they also like the fact that the city understands the importance of it. It is essentially one half of what is our downtown now. And when you have a municipality who’s invested in a property within its corporate limits, then developers like that, because that means that we’re more inclined to do what it takes to ensure that this thing is a success. And we know that the Forum’s a critical part and its success is the City’s success. It helps generate a lot of revenue that we in turn can use to provide services back to our stakeholders. Whether it be streets or multi-use paths, or even keeping a zero millage rate. And we are excited about working with the North American Properties, trying to take the property and take it to the next level. And so we’re rolling up our sleeves, getting ready to get that started.

[00:03:26] Rico: Cool. We’ve been talking about this for a while now, obviously. We’re hoping that new owners would take it over because they’re reep running it. And having a secondary company managing it, it’s not quite the same as having an owner manager. And so part of what we talked about also is that a place like this could have some density. Being worked on as far as adding density to it. So, maybe we can talk a little bit about that as far as, what the City’s willing to do there. We talked a little bit, I think at one point, about a parking deck and such. Being a part of it and allowing for a space for other things to happen, for green space and stuff.

[00:04:04] Brian: Well, what you’re referring to, I can kind of go back to the previous owner if you will. And that is, the previous owner, when they reached out to the city to notify us that they were putting the Forum on the market, the reason that they were doing so as articulated to us was the fact that the Forum was a property that joined a number of other properties that they were selling that had a common theme. And they were unloading all of their properties that did not have onsite residential or onsite public gathering space. And so the Forum had neither of those or has neither of those. So the previous owner put it up along with other properties that met that description in their portfolio, they put them up for sale. North American Properties has articulated to us that one of the things they want to do and they are in a position to do because they are not only the owners, but they are going to operate it as well, which is oftentimes not the case. Many times the owners don’t operate it they merely contract with a property management company. And then that company manages it and manages the leases and operates it.

[00:05:22] Rico: Right.

[00:05:22] Brian: North American’s going to do both, which was very exciting to the city because we knew that North American Properties would invest in the property in a way that maybe results in temporarily lease revenue to be negatively impacted due to construction or other things. But they were okay with doing it because they were going to operate it as well. So they have expressed an interest in installing, if you will, onsite residential and onsite greenspace. So the city will obviously have to be to some degree or other involved in both. We do know that if there is greenspace, that’s going to have to be added and the only place to add it on the Forum property is by removing parking spaces. So the city may end up having to be involved in that to help them be able to construct green space because that means parking is going to have to be moved elsewhere, so that may involve structured parking. Maybe not too dissimilar to what we did with the Town Center and Fuqua which was the partner over there. So that may end up being part of this and then obviously residential onsite, it’s going to have to have some rezoning component. The details of that have not been presented or discussed or considered. So I don’t honestly know any more than that. They are interested in putting onsite residential in some capacity on the property. And all the evidence to healthy, mixed use developments such as the Forum, all point to needing onsite residential, and public gathering space, part of the ingredients for successful mixed use development. So it’s not surprising to us. You know, again, the devil’s in the details and that’s why our sleeves are rolled up and ready to dig in.

[00:07:19] Rico: And I understand you guys are probably meeting as we speak, you’ll be meeting sometime this week, I think on this. And I guess I can speculate a little bit from my own end that residential is probably, certainly a strong component of what’s going to happen there over the next 18 months or so. Because it needs it right? Like any multi-use. And if we look at the past history of what they’ve done, Atlantic Station, Avalon and such, residential is a big component of that. So certainly I think I can imagine that there could be probably north of 150 to 200 units coming right there at the Forum in some capacity, in some area that they set up there. Which, live, work, and play. I mean, you could be working there, living and certainly at Technology Park and I think as one company put it, we are a 15 minute city. And in their eyes because of where they located, you could walk anywhere in 15 minutes and get what you need. Which is an interesting description of what we are, being a 15 minute city that way. Because our downtown area, anywhere within this area, whether you’d be, let’s say Spalding Drive near Intuitive Robotics, or if you’re at City Hall, maybe. 15 minute walk will get you to shopping to food, to entertainment, to a degree. So interesting concept in being a 15 minute city, that’s not Atlanta. That’s outside Atlanta. So kind of interesting. Plus we have that residential property across the way still that was rezoned apartment. Was what’s called the Old Roberts property, and that was sunset. So that became, that reverted back to its original rezoning which was not residential. But there’s another component and people are looking there and I wouldn’t be surprised if North American properties is looking at that property as well. That would have been about 260 odd units, plus a hotel with a hundred plus rooms.

[00:09:13] Brian: Well Rico, I mean, not only that parcel, which is again right there by Lazy Dog behind the old Black Walnut, and Georgia Clinic right there. There’s still, even some other parcels that are kind of right near there. And really, to be honest with you anywhere in the city. Especially the north of say Jimmy Carter, Holcomb Bridge. Really north of the split here. We’re under an immense amount of pressure from developers wanting to build residential units. And I say that, by saying in general, we are. Meaning all different types. But right now, based on a number of factors, whether it’s financing or interest demand, they tend to be heavy on the rental versus the equity component. And usually that’s because we are getting pretty close to not having a lot of undeveloped parcels left. Which means that as we grow, we’re going to have to grow up. Up as in vertical. And when you do that, generally that is much harder to finance when it’s equity, which we typically call a condo. And condos require about 50% or more of the units to be pre-sold before you can get the financing. And so it makes it harder on developers, so they’re less interested. But that puts pressure on the city of trying to make sure that we’re thinking through growth. And right now there’s a lot of discussions about how are we managing it. Because with virtual workplace now, a lot of people can go back to the suburbs, if you will. You can work at a company that’s located in Midtown, but if they’re maybe in the future, not going to make you come in at all, or maybe only one or two days a week. People are like, you know what? I can handle an hour commute each way if I only have to do it one or two day a week. But the rest of my time I can be out farther away from Midtown, get more house, more yard, for my money. And so there’s a resurgence of people interested in coming here. In addition to just Metro Atlanta growing and the housing market being like ridiculous right now. So there’s a lot of chain and we got a lot of challenges right now.

[00:11:37] Rico: Yeah. Especially like you mentioned, the housing stock is unbelievable. Because I mean, I see it every day. I mean, in our neighborhood, a house went up for sale. Within three weeks it was bought and it was bought at a premium above what they were asking of like 10 to 20,000. Just one family home on a slab, right? No basement or anything. It’s just, it does not stay in the market long in this area. So you’re right. I mean, I could see the pressure because we have another multi-use or M1 that wants to become a multi-use development that is applying, that went through the planning commission. That’s presented itself in front of City Council, it’s been tabled to June. And that is about 315 units that they would like to develop, plus a five story hotel. And on top of that, it’s on Peachtree Parkway, also. So not too far from another one that was recently approved and across from Corner Find One, I think is where it is. So yeah, I can see the pressure coming in doing that.

[00:12:36] Brian: But you know, it is important to note though that mayor and council understands that and they’re being much more comprehensive and methodical in their thinking about it then they’ve ever been forced to do. So, I want everybody to know that they’re not taking it lightly. There are some very comprehensive conversations going on right now, amongst them on essentially. What do they with this big, with this pressure, what do they want Peachtree Corners to look like when it grows up? Meaning we are sitting here in a location that you could probably represent is at a place where people who are moving to Atlanta and there are more people moving here than moving away. We’re growing as a region. So as those who choose to drive north out of say the airport, and they’re looking at places to put down roots, we’re getting many of them here. The question for council is going to be, do we end up as they’re driving into our city, are we here at the city limits saying, hey, before you decide to keep going north or whatever direction they leave in. Hey, let us spend some time telling you what a great community we are. Because we want you to stay here or are we saying, keep on going. Keep on going, if you’re wanting to go north to the further suburbs, keep on going. And if that’s the case, you know, they’re the ones who decide policy. That’s fine, but they’re kind of going through that right now. And if it is no, no, no, no, we want them to stay, then how is it we grow? Because we don’t have a lot of out. We’re not like a Forsyth county or one that has a lot of outward growth. So that’s what they’re having to kind of determine right now. And it’s a new normal that we’ve never seen, the rate of growth and the pressure on residential development is something we’ve never seen. So it’s ongoing, it’s comprehensive. And, I think we’re in a good position that it will come out of this very shortly in having a good course of action going forward.

[00:14:56] Rico: I’m sure there will be. I’ve had some conversations with one to two city council member and we’ve had conversations about this as well. What does it mean? Yes, do we want to have the ability to have more residents here, versus them going past us and we just become a through place. But also what does it mean to be a smart city? And what does it mean to allow multiuse development to be able to set standards in the type of developments that come to the city, whether it’s LEED buildings or EV charging stations, what does that mean? How, what is the philosophy of doing that? Because eventually if we’re talking about being a smart city, we certainly want to make sure that, in my mind, that we’re walking the walk and that we’re looking at urban development in the right way. And not just the proving something that’s going to have a restaurant and maybe one other shop and we call it a multi-use. So, I think that they, hopefully they have that conversation. They look at that a little better about what it means to be here. I mean, we just recently had, for example, the Israeli council general visit us. The Mayor, Mike Mason is on a mayor’s summit, remote, that’s part of the smart city conference in Taiwan. And we’re getting a lot of companies here, like Intuitive Robotics and other firms that are coming because we’re part of that Silicon Orchard, right? So I mean, if we can continue to look at our environment as a good steward, then we have to look at that too, right? How are we going to let these builders develop and in a smart way all around, right?

[00:16:34] Brian: You know, I mean I couldn’t have said it better myself, Rico. And that is exactly what council’s doing. In fact, at the council meeting Tuesday, the one policy or the one action item that council was involved in is they did change the pro-rata makeup of a mixed use development by requiring a higher percentage of non-residential uses on a mixed use parcel. To prevent somebody coming in and having three uses, 95% of it’s residential, 3% something else, and then 2% the remaining. And, they’re like, that’s ridiculous. So, yes. I mean, you know, maybe even more to follow on that. But there’s definitely those conversations about all right, what are we going to do to set ourselves apart from others? What are we going to do to continue to live up to the reputation that we’re gaining? I mean, you know, the mayor was asked to speak and he was actually invited to speak in person there, did not work out for lots of different reasons COVID included. But invited to speak there, but on a panel of cities in the world of mayors, from cities like, well, Denver and Atlanta in the US. Or Prague, Czech Republic or Edmonton, Canada, Taipei, Taiwan. I mean, these are cities that are you know, way above our weight class. We were asked to speak at it because of the things that we’re doing. And so, yes, we need that to try to correspond into other conventional development within the city. Not just within the technology ecosystem.

[00:18:13] Rico: To stay on that for a little bit, so the Israeli Consul General did visit us. We have several, I think Israeli firms working out of here as well at Curiosity Lab and stuff. Anything new that you want to share with what’s going on there? I know there’s quite a bit, but if we can get a quick description of what’s going on, that would be great.

[00:18:32] Brian: The Israeli Consul General came up here because we do have a special relationship with really the nation of Israel, as well as Israeli companies. We have a number of arrangements and collaborations with governmental agencies within Israel. And a lot of Israeli companies come here because if you think about it, the nation of Israel is by population standpoint about the size of Metro Atlanta. And so if there is something that some product or software or whatever that’s invented there, for them to scale it they have to leave that area because that area is not really big enough for them to really scale. So they need to go to Asia or Europe or North America. And we are a location that a lot of them have started to find even more appealing than your typical, oh, I go to the states and I go to Silicon Valley or I go to research Triangle or I go to New York City. I mean, those are all great, but you are a small fish in a very big, expensive pond. Here you can actually be a smaller pond, it’s not as expensive. And just being the same size, you can be a bigger in relation to others because that pond doesn’t have so many big fish. And so we’re seeing a lot of it. The local Israeli consulate wanted to ensure that we continue to have that synergy between us and them. And we have great relationships with them. We’ll continue to, and we look forward to fostering that relationship. And getting more companies come through here and use Peachtree Corners either as a place to put down roots or as a launching pad. But we at least benefit from their involvement, however brief it may be.

[00:20:20] Rico: Yeah. So many companies out there that, so much representation from around the world here that we’re going to be doing another feature piece. Not in this coming issue, but the next about the amount of, the different companies we have that represent different countries here, that are based in Peachtree Corners. That’s, I think there’s over 20 nations that are actually represented. So that’d be a neat piece to talk about. Let’s get some update on the playground. That’s, I say playground, but it’s a little bit more involved than that. That’s being built out at Town Center. Dirt’s moving, everything’s moving around there. Are we still on track for that to come in for May? I think it was May, end of May?

[00:20:56] Brian: Yeah, we’re still on track around the end of May for most of the playground equipment. The supply chain issue is such that we may not have all the shade structures in for even as much as two months after that, unfortunately. Because you know we put seating around there as part of this because we knew parents were going to go over there and want to be close to their kids and everything. And so we may not have all of the shade structures in. Just again, supply chain and you just run out of it. But we’re still tracking on that. And so that’s good. You know, our goal was to have it in so that the first concert of our series, which is the end of May, doesn’t still have that area to be a construction site. We’re also, you know, I don’t know if you’ve been out there, we added a lot more decking under the current shade structures that are there on the other side of the town green. And we’re going to add another shade structure as well there. So there’s a lot more space for people to have furniture and we have a new fire pit out there that’s a little bit more user friendly. Although I will say Rico, unfortunately we may end up having to talk about this again, but we have created a really cool place to hang out. And it’s getting cooler by the day. You know, it’s just a great place to whether to get something, you know, and eat or drink, or a kid’s play or just hang out. But as a result of it, we’ve got a lot of destructive behavior that’s happening out there. And we’re getting ready to add over 80 cameras out into the parking deck and the Town Green area. And we’re having to do that, one, it’s a good deterrent. But two, just a lot of people going in and destroying things randomly for no reason. And it’s sad. I mean, we have a new much larger fire pit that had a lot of other, not only bigger, it was round. It was, you know, a place you kind of hang out. And yet all we do is it’s only been operational for probably two weeks and have already had people pry open the door to try to get to the controls. They’ve been stealing the stones. The nice stones that are in there. I mean just stuff like that. And it’s sad and, you know, we’re hoping. We may have to talk to the community as a whole and say, look, please help police yourselves and prevent a great location and amenity that’s theirs. It’s the community’s, it’s the public’s. But it’s either lack of parental supervision or people just, I mean, I don’t know. It’s sad.

[00:23:41] Rico: It’s probably happening in the middle of the night too, right? Like two or three in the morning and stuff.

[00:23:46] Brian: Some of it, but then some of it it’s not. I mean, we’ve had destructive behavior there and you know, again, even some of it’s on surveillance. But either we don’t have a great image of the person or what is generally the case is, you have video of a person. But unless like one of us recognized that person, there’s no way for us to know who it is.

[00:24:11] Rico: It’s amazing. Can’t keep anything in the public realm without having to deal with that crap, quite frankly. I just like, you know, you would imagine that people are a little bit more respectful, but no. It’s never going to be, and that’s never going to be the case because there are people that are just not respectful of things.

[00:24:30] Brian: I’ll even go so far as this, you know, with the playground areas, we’re doing site work. We’re doing grading and getting the terrain ready for when we bring in the artificial surfaces and everything. And so they will have construction equipment out there, like backhoes and mini excavators inside of areas roped off with caution tape. But on the weekend, you’ll go out there and people have ripped down or are inside of the caution tape, kids climbing around construction equipment and their parents are right there. But they’re letting them, we caught kids in the boom of the, you know, the back climbing around on that. And their parents are right there, like.

[00:25:12] Rico: And not for anything we don’t teach, I shouldn’t say we. But a lot of people just don’t teach their kids what respect means and things. And they’re, they’re all John Waynes and Yahoos sometimes saying, leave them alone, they need to play. And it’s just like, and then there are those people that want safe places for their kids. It’s just like, if we just taught a little respect, common respect and courtesy, that’s all we need. It’s just, it’ll never end this, like. And I’m not surprised quite frankly, because tape’s not going to hold anyone away, it’s just like.

[00:25:50] Brian: No, you’re like really? Can you not see them? And you’re underneath. You had to go underneath caution tape. Or it was ripped down, it’s laying on the ground, you’re stepping over, you know it’s a construction site and yet you’re either in there yourself or you’re letting your kid run around around that. And you’re just like, you know.

[00:26:08] Rico: And that same parent, God forbid a child gets hurt. The same people will want to sue the city to say that wasn’t enough. You shouldn’t have put just the tape there. You should have like put a cement wall to stop people from entering. It’s just like, you know what? At some point people have to take responsibility for themselves and their family.

[00:26:28] Brian: Yeah. But I guess the good thing here is that Town Center is doing what we, we hope, which is attracting people. And that’s, you know, activity begets more activity and makes restaurants and stores and everything healthier. So that’s good. But we just need to, those of us who live and work and use that need to police ourselves and make sure that we keep it a nice amenity and not let it get beat down by destructive, irresponsible people.

[00:26:58] Rico: Yeah. Amazing, never-ending. Well, I’m glad that we were able to talk about these things and especially about North American Properties and the Forum and that buyout. I know that there’ll be more coming out and actually my editor right now is going to be interviewing the owner of NAP by, I think 4:30 late today. So we’ll have an article out sometime in the next few days about that, a little bit more in depth hopefully some more information that we can provide people with. And we’re going to stay on top of this. That, along with everything else that’s going on in the city.

[00:27:28] Brian: It’s a big deal. It’s a big deal.

[00:27:31] Rico: For sure. So I appreciate your time, Brian. Thank you for being with us again. I look forward to next time. Share this with your friends, if you’re listening to the podcast on Apple or iHeart Radio, certainly leave a review on this. Look for more additional information on LivingInPeachtreeCorners.com. You can either subscribe to our newsletter to find out more news that comes out. We come out once or twice a week, depending on what news is going on. Or like us on Facebook, @PeachtreeCornersLife or follow us on Instagram as well. Thank you for being with us and we’ll see you next time.

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Gwinnett Principals Tour Businesses with Partnership Gwinnett for Workforce Development

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A breakfast panel comprising (L to R) Dr. Calvin J. Watts, Lauren Croft, Chad Wagner, and Nick Masino (with moderator Andrew Hickey) discuss the importance of education and industry connection. // Photos courtesy of Partnership Gwinnett

Partnership Gwinnett, in collaboration with Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS), recently hosted its annual Principal Field Trip event. The program aimed to connect professionals in education and industry to support continued workforce development based on existing and future needs.

The day began with breakfast and a panel discussion featuring Nick Masino, President & CEO of Partnership Gwinnett; Dr. Calvin J. Watts, Superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools; Chad Wagner, President of Peachtree Packaging; and Lauren Croft, HR Director at Peachtree Packaging.

Principals and Industry leaders gather for a group photo at QTS during Partnership Gwinnett’s 2024 Principal Field Trip

“Our principals and educators play a critical role in shaping the future workforce of Gwinnett County. This event provides an opportunity to bridge the gap between education and industry, ensuring our students are prepared and ready for high-skill and in-demand careers,” stated Dr. Watts.

In addition to having lunch at Gwinnett Technical College, principals visited several industry partners, including Price Industries, QTS, Peachtree Packaging, Mitsubishi Trane HVAC, Aluvision, CleanSpark, Nextran, WIKA and Eagle Rock Studios. These visits allowed educational leaders to engage with local businesses and understand industry needs.

“Supporting this event underscores our commitment to investing in the future of our workforce. By partnering with GCPS and Partnership Gwinnett, we can ensure that students are equipped with the skills necessary to thrive in today’s job market,” said Wagner.

PFT attendees tour operations at Peachtree Packaging.

Gwinnett County Public Schools, the largest public school district in the state, serves approximately 182,000 students across 142 schools. The district’s diverse student population, representing 191 countries and speaking 98 different languages, benefits from career pathways and college and career readiness programs that support career exploration, industry certifications and internships.

“With thousands of students graduating each year, GCPS significantly contributes to the 2.6 million labor draw within a one-hour drive of Gwinnett County,” said Partnership Gwinnett Director of Economic Development Andrew Hickey. “As these graduates enter the workforce, they bring essential skills for high-skill and in-demand careers, ensuring a strong future for the local economy.”

Learn more about the work Partnership Gwinnett does here.

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Local Marketing Production Company Vox-Pop-Uli Finds Peachtree Corners Right for Business

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Instead of asking what Peachtree Corners-based company Vox-Pop-Uli does, it may be quicker to ask what they don’t do.
Andrew Hajduk // Photos by George Hunter

When perusing the list of goods and services provided by Peachtree Corners-based company Vox-Pop-Uli, instead of asking what they do, it may be quicker to ask what they don’t do. When it comes to marketing production, it’s easy to see why the company motto is, “Yeah, we do that.”

A first-generation Ukrainian, Andrew Hajduk’s parents immigrated to the U.S. in 1949 after the Soviet Union took over Ukraine. They settled in the Chicago area and worked in the steel mills. A job transfer moved the family to metro Atlanta in 1975, where they’ve been ever since.

In 1996, Hajduk worked at a similar company, where he was inspired to branch out independently.

“I had a partner at the time, and we were out making sales calls in North Carolina and visiting customers,” he said. “We thought we were a whole lot smarter than our boss and decided to go and do it on our own.”

Vox-Pop-Uli

Where did the name Vox-Pop-Uli come from? 

“Neither one of us was smart enough nor creative enough to come up with something. The only challenge that we gave [the designer] was we wanted a name that didn’t tie us to anything specific to what we did. And we didn’t want a name that didn’t reflect either of our names,” Hajduk said. 

The literal Latin translation is “voice of the people.”

“We use that as we help our customers be the voice to their people. Through marketing, with flyers, signage, whatever it is, but letting their marketing be the voice to their people, their employees, their customers, whoever it is.”

At first, they worked out of their homes until securing office space a year later. After a few years, Hajduk’s partner left, so Hajduk continued the vision on his own.

 “We have grown and adapted. Our model has changed a little bit. But it’s always been about working with our customers. We do a lot of specialty retail with other B2B customers, and we’re just really providing a full marketing service for them and acting as their fulfillment center,” Hajduk said.

Even though printing is a major part of the company’s work, communication of the client’s brand is really its backbone.

“We started before digital print had become commercially acceptable. We had an opportunity to be very early adopters of digital print because we saw a need, and we had some customers that were willing to take a chance on it with us,” he said. 

“It’s evolved with that, and there continues to be a heavy print component to it, but now there’s all the swag, all the different things that people use to communicate their brand,” he added.

Technology is the key to success

One aspect that has kept Vox-Pop-Uli ahead of much of the competition is embracing technology.

“One of the things that it’s done to our internal processes is it’s made the timeframe a lot faster. It allows people to be way more responsive to an immediate need,” he said.

“If I want to do a last-minute campaign for Memorial Day weekend, which is in what two and a half weeks, I can do that. Whereas, with the traditional print or before the technology was there, there was no chance I would be able to do that,” he explained.

Sometimes, that makes things challenging because clients don’t build in time. They know that last-minute orders are generally no problem.

“The other thing it’s done is it’s given people the ultimate flexibility,” he said. 

With many national clients, a lot of materials need to be customized for different locations, different states and different markets.

“Everybody’s got legal disclaimers because of pricing, services or whatever. So, we can customize down to a state or local level, depending on the product,” said Hajduk. 

“We don’t print 10,000 of any one thing, but we might print 1,000, each of 10 different versions for a company because if you’re in Kentucky, you’ve got one disclaimer, one price package. And if you’re in Florida, you have something else.”

Creating online store for clients

“We’re maintaining stores where they can go in and order their products,” he said. “Whether it’s posters, business cards, whatever it is, but all the inventory exists virtually now. As a business, you’re not maintaining large inventory levels of anything. They can do everything on demand. … As opposed to printing or producing a whole bunch of something to last you, they can literally order it as they need it. And it exists virtually until it’s printed.”

Vox also helps customers create campaigns.

“People ask me all the time, ‘What form do you think works best?’” said Hajduk. 

“I believe you must be omnipresent. People have short attention spans today. We’re competing harder for that consumer dollar. I don’t think any one thing is going to work. It’s not about a single Facebook ad, a digital post, or a postcard; all things have to work together,” he explained.

Hajduk said the most successful campaigns involve print, storefront, digital and social media elements.

The right place for business

“We’ve always been in the Gwinnett County area,” Hajduk said. “We started out in Duluth on the other side of 85.”

Hajduk and his partner lived on opposite sides of the metro area, so Gwinnett County was a good middle ground. 

“The Interstate 85 corridor was always a good place for us. We started out off Steve Reynolds Blvd; then we’re in Duluth for a little bit. And then in 2005, we moved over here to the North Woods complex and watched it become Peachtree Corners,” he said. “Then, in 2019, we moved to this space. I just love the feel of the community. I love this location. I like being on Peachtree Industrial Blvd.”

Megan Hajduk, Andrew Hajduk, Cindy Hajduk, and Daniel Hajduk

City leadership

“I think Peachtree Corners has done a lot of things right. In terms of how they’re growing and things like that,” he said. “The location is good and central. My wife, Cindy, and I moved to Peachtree Corners in January. We were in Johns Creek till we became empty nesters. We wanted to be on the river, and we found a great house,” he said.

Even though the kids have moved out, Megan and Daniel are part of the Vox staff. Along with his wife, a stay-at-home mom until the children were older, the Hajduks are building a legacy of family and community. There’s room if younger son Steven also desires to join the family business.

“We see continued growth and scaling,” said Hajduk. “We’re excited about growing here. As technology has changed, it’s given us a broader mix of clients. Up until about five or six years ago, the company was very retail-based, meaning we had a lot of retail clients. We have a lot of clients outside of Georgia, and I spent way too much time traveling. But we have a great opportunity now with everything we do to grow here.”

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Business

The Forum’s Transformation: A New Chapter in Peachtree Corners

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Photos courtesy of The Forum

Led by North American Properties (NAP), The Forum is being reimagined as a mixed-use destination in the center of Peachtree Corners. This multi-phase project aims to enhance the already strong community connection between residents. It also seeks to attract new businesses, residents and visitors, while creating jobs and boosting tenant sales. 

Innovative rebranding and technology

Built in 2002, the Forum is an open-air shopping center featuring a variety of retail stores, restaurants and entertainment options. Following its acquisition by NAP, The Forum in Peachtree Corners has undergone a significant rebranding to update its visual and verbal identity and reflect its more modern persona. 

Early in redevelopment, NAP partnered with the city of Peachtree Corners to improve the connection between The Forum and the Town Center

“The overall goal of the project is to create a more cohesive ecosystem that embraces the city’s hometown charm. It also reduces the need for residents to venture outside the area to nearby destinations for in-demand experiences,” explained NAP Public Relations Director, Britni Johnson

The new branding is evident throughout the property with updated pole banners, property and directional signage and window graphics, along with digital enhancements to The Forum’s website and social media channels.

“One of the first things NAP completed upon taking over management at The Forum was a rebrand encompassing a new visual and verbal identity,” added Johnson.

In addition to aesthetic updates, The Forum is set to roll out several technological enhancements designed to improve the visitor experience. These include four new digital directories for wayfinding, event information and interactive features such as a “snap a selfie” function. 

“State-of-the-art stage lighting and A/V for the main stage in The Plaza, which is under construction and set for completion in late summer 2024, will transform the entertainment experience,” Johnson said. 

Moreover, additional Wi-Fi access points are being installed to enhance connectivity and support an outdoor workspace. 

Greenspaces for community gatherings

In terms of design, new community gathering spaces have replaced excess street parking, promoting longer visits and greater interaction among guests. These improvements are part of a broader effort to boost walkability and connectivity across the property.

To enhance the overall guest experience at The Forum, Phase I of the redevelopment focuses on expanding the public realm by adding new greenspaces that welcome casual gatherings. 

The first of these spaces, the 1,700-square-foot North Plaza, was introduced in October 2023 and is complemented by surrounding restaurants with inviting patios, including the soon-to-open Politan Row food hall.

Further enhancements are visible in the construction of The Plaza, situated near Pottery Barn. This development is set to include a 6,650-square-foot turfed event plaza equipped with a covered performance stage, a large LED screen and comfortable seating areas. Upon completion, The Plaza will host The Forum’s annual events. 

“We host over 100 annual events – many of which are held in partnership with or support local organizations, including Light Up The Corners with the Fowler YMCA, Restaurant Week with Peachtree Farm, and Santa at The Forum with Neighborhood Cooperative Ministries,” noted Charlotte Hinton, The Forum’s marketing manager.

Prioritizing guest safety

Rest assured, when you’re attending an event or stopping by for an afternoon visit, your safety is NAP’s top priority. 

Since taking over The Forum in March 2022, NAP has significantly increased security measures, boosting coverage by 35% as a key aspect of the property’s ongoing redevelopment. This enhancement includes round-the-clock protection provided by onsite security personnel and off-duty law enforcement officers.

The Forum’s security infrastructure has also been expanded, with the installation of nearly 30 new CCTV cameras across the property. Additionally, NAP formed a strategic partnership with Fusus by Axon, a local technology firm based in Peachtree Corners, to integrate a real-time public safety intelligence platform with the existing camera network. 

“This allows police to tap into the surveillance feed and gain critical intel during active investigations, ensuring a rapid and informed response to any security issues,” shared Johnson. The security team is directly accessible for immediate assistance.

NAP’s dynamic retail strategy

Understanding the evolving needs of the Peachtree Corners community, NAP is curating a diverse mix of retailers, including popular brands and local entrepreneurs.

Brooke Massey, NAP’s Director of Leasing, emphasized the strategic approach of their retail team. 

“NAP’s retail leasing team has strong relationships with an extensive collection of 300+ in-demand brands and is in constant communication with them about their needs,” she explained. 

This network has facilitated the introduction of both well-known brands and local entrepreneurs into the retail space, maintaining a dynamic balance that caters to the community’s desires. 

Moreover, Massey highlighted the vision behind their tenant selection. 

“Our strategy is very data-driven, and our marketing team even plays a role in the curation process by polling social media followers on what they want to see at The Forum,” she added. 

Since acquiring The Forum in March 2022, NAP has secured 39 deals with various tenants. 

Notable recent openings include Alloy Personal Training, Cookie Fix, Giulia, Kendra Scott, Lovesac and Stretchlab. Coming later in 2024 are Nando’s Peri-Peri, Sucre and The NOW Massage

“We look forward to becoming part of The Forum community by providing guests with a truly memorable part of their day. So much of our days are rushed, running one errand to another. Everyone deserves a moment to slow down and enjoy something delicious. We want to be the space where that happens for Peachtree Corners and all who visit,” shared a company spokesperson for Sucre.

Creating memorable moments

The Forum turned a somber anniversary into a moment of joy for a local family. 

Two days after the 2022 Holiday Tree Lighting, tragedy struck Peachtree Corners Councilman Joe Sawyer‘s family. His daughter was murdered while working as a Lyft driver, leaving behind three young children. 

A year later, on the first anniversary of her death, the Sawyer family was invited to The Forum’s 2023 Tree Lighting event. 

“We worked with Santa to surprise the kids, and when I took them backstage, they thought they were just going to get to meet and chat with him,” said Sue Storck, The Forum’s general manager.

Unbeknownst to them, a larger surprise awaited as they were brought on stage to help Santa light the tree, delighting the crowd of over 14,000 attendees. 

“The kids were surprised and delighted to be able to do this, and it was a fantastic memory for both the Sawyer and Forum families,” Storck added, reflecting on the community’s effort to support one of their own during a time of loss.

The team’s efforts continue throughout the year, planting seeds within the community. 

“We’re constantly seeking unique opportunities to engage with our neighbors. The Peachtree Corners Photography Club currently has an exhibit of photos shot by local residents on display in the Forum South office lobby,” shared Hinton. 

“Our team participated in the 2024 Career Exploration Night sponsored by the Norcross Rotary Club. We also recently supported Wesleyan Middle School students on their construction project challenge win,” she added.

Local investments from new tenants: Kendra Scott’s philanthropic engagement

New tenants are bringing their own philanthropic efforts to the community, too. Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners partnered with the Norcross High School Cheer Team on May 10, donating 20% of the proceeds. 

The next day, they partnered with Spectrum Autism Support Group, again donating 20% of the proceeds to the local organization.

“When Kendra Scott opens a store in a new community, we always lead with giving. Philanthropy is one of our core pillars, and we love to celebrate our grand openings by partnering with organizations that are already making a difference!” shared Amanda Young, Southeast Marketing and Philanthropic Manager for Kendra Scott.

By working with Norcross High School Cheer and Spectrum Autism Support Group, we’re able to introduce ourselves to Peachtree Corners residents as a true community partner,” she added. 

Kendra Scott is also dedicated to strengthening community ties through “Kendra Gives Back” events at its Forum location. 

These events are intended to support local causes and foster connections among community leaders and area supporters. 

“We are looking forward to being able to host these organizations in their own backyard!” said Young.

The company is committed to maintaining strong partnerships with neighboring businesses at The Forum, such as Cookie Fix, Peche, and Giulia-The Italian Bakery

“We are so excited to be a part of The Forum family and have already enjoyed working with their leadership,” Young exclaimed.

Looking ahead

The transformation of The Forum is more than a redevelopment project; it’s a vision for the future of Peachtree Corners. 

With plans for adding residential units and a boutique hotel, The Forum is poised to become a dynamic hub of activity. 

“Long-term, we’re working toward creating a place that’s activated 18 hours a day, seven days a week,” projected Johnson. 

Through thoughtful design, community engagement and a commitment to sustainability, The Forum’s transformation is set to enrich the lives of Peachtree Corners’ residents for generations to come.

Read more news about The Forum here.

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