On this episode of Prime Lunchtime, host Rico Figliolini speaks with Peachtree Corners city manager Brian Johnson about the challenges the city is facing and the innovative ways they are addressing them. Brian provides insight into the policies and strategies that Peachtree Corners is exploring to combat today’s issues, including the recent Lululemon incident Additionally, listeners will hear about the city’s efforts to attract businesses, renovate popular gathering spots, and improve infrastructure.
Timestamp Where to find it in the podcast:
[0:00:00] – Intro
[0:02:22] – Incident at Lululemon
[0:17:12] – Companies Moving into Peachtree Corners
[0:23:28] – Updates to the Town Green
[0:31:41] – Closing
Rico Figliolini 0:00:00
Hi. Everyone, this is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life and today, as usual, once a month we talk with city manager Brian Johnson. Hey Brian, thanks for joining me.
Brian Johnson 0:00:11
Rico, thanks for having me.
Rico Figliolini 0:00:13
Yeah, it’s always good, doing this once a month, although I call this Prime Lunchtime with the city manager. We’re not having lunch, but it’s during lunchtime, so I appreciate you giving that hour up. Before we get into it and some of the discussions about what’s going on, I just want to introduce our sponsors. We actually have two beginning with this episode. One is our lead sponsor of EV Remodeling. Eli, who owns it and lives here in Peachtree Corners, has been a great supporter of us. It’s going on our second year. EV Remodeling does a lot of the renovation work from start to finish. You can find their work both in an article we did online at our website, livinginpeachtreecorners.com or go visit evremodelinginc.com. Eli’s a great guy, great family, does some really good work. So check them out. New sponsor beginning this month is Clear Wave Fiber. They’re here in Peachtree Corners. They were actually an elite sponsor of the Criterion Road race that we just had with Curiosity Lab. They’re 100% fiber. They’ll take care of your business and your home, so you should check them out. It’s Clear Wave Fiber and we appreciate them being part of our corporate sponsor family. So thank you for doing that. So, Brian, I guess the first thing that we should talk about and get out of the way is something that’s hit. Even though we’re so local in such a small town. In the scheme of things, Peachtree Corners has been like all of a sudden, I find our name on the New York Post, the UK Mail. And a lot of it has to really do not with us as a city, but with Lululemon, which is a store that is in the Forum. It’s a nationally known brand, my daughter buys from there too. It’s a great brand, but things happened just a week or two ago, caught on video and that was made public. It’s not unusual that it hasn’t happened in other places, but we’ve hit the map because of that. So can you tell us a little bit about that? We had a discussion about it.
Brian Johnson 0:02:22
Well, you’re right. What we did is we kind of got caught in the middle of what is national phenomenon, it appears, and that is there have been some corporations like Lululemon, there are a number of other ones that have adopted a policy that affects their response to shoplifting or theft of any kind of merchandise from the stores. And the policy regulates the employees behavior during and after. And it’s kind of twofold. One is, policies are generally that if they’re witnessing a shoplifting or a theft, theft in progress is to not intervene directly, is to not engage directly the individual or individuals doing it. And that one is when you read the articles and some of the studies on this stuff that’s generally for the safety of the employees, you don’t know what the person stealing merchandise will do. If they have a weapon, are they going to assault you. So they’re just generally like, look, do not engage them, do not get near enough them or interfere with what they’re doing. Let them leave. And then some of the big brands have in house security, yeah, security that they’ll investigate and see if they’ll do. So that’s kind of one part of this. The part that maybe has people more like kind of having a difficult time understanding is they don’t call the police during and in some cases even afterwards, that they’re just going to write it off as lost merchandise. And the purpose behind that in the cases where a corporation does have that policy is there has been some internal cost benefit analysis that they think that there is a greater risk to the corporation of calling the police and potentially being accused of profiling than just writing off the loss of the merchandise. And so they’re like, we’re not going to call the police about this at all. Because there could be instances, of course, with corporate policies, it’s a blanket across the country, so there certainly could be instances where it clearly wouldn’t be necessarily that. But they’re just worried that there could be instances where some employee makes what I call it levels an accusation against somebody to the police even after the fact. And that person maybe invariably either wasn’t involved or they level an accusation against a corporation that you’re only accusing me because you’re profiling me for certain reasons. And so they said, we’re not going to call the police. So unfortunately, why that affects us is we have stores here that are part of national and international corporations, and some have this policy. And the Forum certainly has stores that are struggling with the nationwide, and I stress the nationwide phenomenon because some of the discussion around here is like, oh, crime has decided to focus on the Forum or focus on Peachtree Corners. And that is not the case. It’s unfortunate we have any, but we are no different than other locations that are struggling with the fact that certain criminal elements, juveniles, just certain people who are willing to break the law, know that they can get away with it to a certain degree on certain stores that have this policy. And in the case of lululemon, there was an instance where, having this policy in place, there were individuals who, it appears, in the view of lululemon’s leadership, did not remove themselves from the case of this theft terminated, and then the termination resulted in the spouse of one of the individuals posting a long kind of blog about it. And it started with two employees were fired because they called the police, which Lululemons come back and said that wasn’t the case. They were fired because of other policies, which appears to be they did not remove themselves from the immediate area of these people. But it got picked up nationally because people were like, wait a second, you got fired because you called the police and then it kind of got what? But anyway, as this story took off, it starts always with there was an incident in Peachtree Tree Corners, Georgia, at Lululemon, and then it goes into the corporate policy and how this has contributed to some of the increase in criminal activity we see, at least when it comes to the shoplifting and theft. So that’s the incident we could certainly talk about the specific case here, but that’s why we were.
Rico Figliolini 0:08:13
So the ladies that followed them out, if the reports are accurate right. The posting, I’m sure listen, there’s three sides to the story, so accuracy can be depending on where it goes. I’ve read enough articles on this because this has appeared in sites like the New York Post, UK Mail, I mean, it’s been internationally, even reported to a degree because of Lululemon’s brand right. If they hadn’t followed them out, which they shouldn’t have, I guess I can appreciate and understand the liabilities of a business where they want to make sure their employees are safe, but also it’s a cost factor too, right? It’s not good to have your employees go out because lawsuits can arise from some of these things for sure, because lawsuits are like we’re a society where we like to sue everyone.
Brian Johnson 0:09:03
We’re litigious, no doubt about that.
Rico Figliolini 0:09:07
But if they didn’t follow them out, they didn’t see the car marking or the car the make and model and all that, these guys would never have been arrested in Peachtree City where they went, I guess it was the next day to do the same thing at Another Lululemon and they were arrested. And now they’re in jail. Or at least they were in jail, because the aggregate amount of what they stole was a felony range versus a misdemeanor range, if the reporting is accurate.
Brian Johnson 0:09:33
Right, because they wouldn’t my understanding as well, I don’t know, at some point they may have been caught, but the make and model of the vehicle was a result of the theft at the forum location of Lululemon. And that did play into the very next day, the same group of four went down to Peachtree City, south of Atlanta and did the same thing. And the police, having the make and model, knew what to look for when they tried to leave. The, I guess the was almost like a shopping mall. And so there are multiple exits and they were able to keep the from leaving. And they had already changed their license plate, so that would not have helped if we had picked up here. Now, it’s also important to note a couple of other things. One is there are a number of other corporate policies that have affected this kind of activity both at the Forum and elsewhere. I mean, you know, have talked to North American Properties, who owns the Forum, and Avalon. Avalon has stores that the same thing is happening. Avenues at East Cobb, other locations they have when there are others. My understanding is Victoria’s Secret, who has a similar policy, has more the on a somewhat unfortunate regular basis than even Lululemon. Unbelievable. They’re not the only ones. Again, we got caught with individuals who understand we’re kind of tired of having to see this. And it was brazen, if you watch the video, brazen about this. But nationally, it’s on the increase. In fact, there are some cities, usually big cities, who won’t even prosecute misdemeanors at all. And so those who do this know that if you keep the value of the merchandise that you’re shoplifting or stealing below a certain threshold, then that’s right, essentially no consequences to your action. And these stores are just writing it off. I don’t think most of what we’ve read, most of the comments that we’ve received are not incredulous. Reaction has not been about, well, they got fired, or the belief that they got fired for not removing themselves from the immediate location of all these people doing it. A lot of people believe, oh, they got fired for calling the police.
Rico Figliolini 0:12:09
Right. Because that was part of that commentary. But I mean, even still, I guess that I think what this probably shows or what’s necessary maybe at some point, is that the Forum, unlike Town Center, has no cameras there. And that may be something that the maybe have to look into.
Brian Johnson 0:12:31
Well, there’s two things going on at the Forum. That the city. We’ve scheduled some meetings with some of the entities that can do some things to help. But right now, on the exterior roads that you drive on to get to these stores at the Forum, the main boulevard, there are not specific exterior cameras on the parking spots and the roadway. And so that’s going to be discussed. The other issue that is going to be harder is Gwynette PD. When they were finally called after this incident, they had, I can’t remember it was either four or five officers that got there within two minutes, but it was all done already. The group had left, and Gwynette PD has implored these locations. Call us. We can’t do anything if you don’t call us. But the corporate policy of, hey, we don’t call the police because we would rather write it off than get accused of profiling, which usually tends to be the racial profiling. There’s other types. But the risk some corporations feel that that is greater than calling the police is such that when that police department is very frustrated as well, because they’re like, this is happening right under our nose, and we are here. We had officers in the area could have done sending you called. I don’t know how to fix that per se, but we certainly can do some things, and we’ll do some things to maybe increase our ability to ultimately solve and prosecute some of this criminality. It’s important to note that our camera system, city’s camera system, both video and flock hide in with Fusis is unequivocally. The reason why police were able to identify and ultimately apprehend the last two homicide instances we had here, which fortunate, but at least we had the ability to do that. So we know it works, want to have as much of it as we can, so we’ll do our part. But unfortunately, there’s going to be still a struggle with corporate policy on an individual store basis on what they do with what’s happening inside.
Rico Figliolini 0:15:03
Yeah, and I know it’s frustrating, apparently for the Forum also because they’ve had discussions with the businesses, and it’s out of their control as far as that goes.
Brian Johnson 0:15:12
And they’ve also employed. I’m glad you brought that. It’s not just Gwinnett PD, it’s the landlord. North American Properties has been like, please, this hurts us all when this happens because some of the local community social media comments, like on next door, there’s people who are like, why isn’t the forum doing more? Or you should reach out to the city. The city shouldn’t let this happen. We would love to be able to get these stores to do something about it, and then these employees feel handcuffed, too. Hopefully, if we get enough of this solved or the word gets out that you really are under surveillance when you’re out on the public right of public spaces, that maybe the criminal element won’t come here, but it is not exclusive to us. Nobody wants it to happen. And look, as frustrating as these policies are, the other thing we got to be careful of is I read a lot of I’m never shopping at Lululemon again, and I get the stance, but we’re not careful. We are going to end up by taking a stance there, driving Lululemon away from this particular location, and now we’ve got another empty storefront.
Rico Figliolini 0:16:34
They’re understood. I mean, these types of things actually have driven companies to actually close. Walmart has closed in places. Other stores have closed in neighborhoods where these things are happening.
Brian Johnson 0:16:48
I don’t think it made at their corporate headquarters. And again, there’s greater forces at play and other social considerations that they put into it. Right or wrong, whether you agree or not, it’s just what we’d hate to see is the end of the day, this location is closed because it’s not getting enough sales. And again, now you got an empty storefront.
Rico Figliolini 0:17:12
I don’t think that certainly would be the case. So hopefully things will be a little different. All right. There’s other things happening in the city. There’s certainly governments and companies that are flocking to the city of Peachtree Corners for a lot of different reasons. Curiosity Lab is one of the to be able to do like that race that you all put together between the city and Curiosity Lab with the Criterion Road race that was just phenomenal. Be able to do that. Over the past year or so, the French American Business Chamber relocated here. Several companies like Valmat, which is I think a Danish company, relocated into the three corners.
Brian Johnson 0:17:54
There are companies that partnership agreement with Audi.
Rico Figliolini 0:17:58
Audi, that’s right.
Brian Johnson 0:17:59
No idea. That may materialize into something more. I mean, that’s the purpose of all this is Curiosity Lab is merely a magnet to get companies here. Our hope is once Curiosity Lab gets them to the area and they’re using Curiosity Lab or they’re collaborating or doing whatever is we talk to them and convince them, hey, look at this community as a whole. This is a great place for maybe you to expand your business or do certain things. I just got done meeting with the supply chain leadership at Intuitive Surgical at their headquarters in Sunnyvale and purpose of it was to get the list of all of their tier one and tier two parts suppliers that they purchased parts from to assemble the DA Vinci robotic assistance. And the purpose of us getting that is we’re going to go to then those part suppliers and say, hey, wouldn’t it be great for you to have a location really close to one of your biggest customers? Wouldn’t it be great? And if so, let’s talk about how much square footage you need and what can the city do to so that’s how we’re using this. And then of course we know that Curiosity Lab was ultimately a decisive point in Intuitive decision to come here. So the means to an end, but yeah, I mean, continues to play out.
Rico Figliolini 0:19:30
I’m glad you brought that up about the list of suppliers and stuff because I don’t think people understand what a city does as far as economic impact and bringing businesses here and what’s involved. It really is a salesmanship type of thing and to be able to show that right, I mean, you’re traveling in fact, weren’t you all in Israel recently and now there’s an Israeli government related business organization that’s going to be working out of Peachtree Corners.
Brian Johnson 0:19:58
Tell us CTO of the city. The person who really runs Curiosity Lab day to day. He went to Israel, spoke at it by invitation, spoke at a conference, but he was able to close a partnership agreement that we had kind of laid the groundwork for last year when I was there. And that’s Israeli governmental agency called the Israeli Innovation Authority. And their job is to foster incubate and help develop Israeli startup companies and their expansion into the international market. And we’ve worked out a partnership agreement in which they’re going to vet this big pool of startups within the nation of Israel. Vet them down to ones that they think are ready to come to the US. Meaning their product they think is one that’ll work. They’re financially healthy enough that they can scale somewhere else and then they’re going to push them to the US through Curiosity Lab. We’re going to offer some assistance when they land here. Somewhat similar to what the French American Chamber does for French companies is they get here and then they’re kind of like, all right, I’m in the US. Talk to me about what it would take for us to hire people here. Is there certain paperwork we got to do? We want to be close to certain things. Where’s the good market to do that? Sometimes we keep the here, sometimes the leave and go elsewhere in metro Atlanta, elsewhere in Georgia, elsewhere in the US. But at least we had a shot at saying maybe we can meet your need. Maybe you stay here within our corporate limits and you don’t leave on your expansion. But we’ve executed an official partnership agreement to have that pipeline get created between the Israeli government and Israeli startups coming to the US. So it’s great opportunity for us to maybe land some companies that have product and maybe they want to expand and stay right here inside our it’s amazing.
Rico Figliolini 0:22:20
Israel, the startup nation. I think there was a book about that about how they have more startups per capita than any other nation and they’re small. Right. Unbelievable. So things are still moving along with technology obviously here. But we’re also looking at the city as a whole being community driven. Right? I mean there’s stuff going on. Like just recently one of my friends texted me from it was Saturday night, it was a concert night. I think it was the Michael Jackson tribute. Tribute, right. He said there were more people there than he’s ever seen since the park opened, since Town Center opened. Now I don’t know what the numbers could be.
Brian Johnson 0:23:04
We probably exceeded 5000 at the Town Green. I think that Queen concert that we had what, two years like the summer before COVID probably bigger, but yeah, we exceeded 5000 out in the Town Green. I mean it was well attended. It was a gorgeous day. In fact, unfortunately actually the end people were needing to leave because they didn’t dress properly because it got a little bit chilly.
Rico Figliolini 0:23:28
When the crazy weather it goes from 42 to like 79 and just like unbelievable. Like Northern California almost the must be that cooling effect. I forget which one it is but the council series is going great. A lot of stuff going on there. We’re going to have the Peachtree Corners Festival again at Town Center. I think that’s in September. But when all that’s done, I think part of what the city wants to do at this point is because the Green, the inner circle of that oval, has had so much traffic and bumpy areas in it and stuff. The city is going to take that down by 2ft.
Brian Johnson 0:24:09
Yeah. So look, we created the Town Green specifically to be a gathering spot, a community amenity where people want to go to. And we’ve done what cities will typically do to foster that. We have a concert series that brings people there, provides entertainment and opportunities for us in the community to see each other, to socialize. The playground is a great amenity out there, the fitness trail, so on and so forth. But the downside to that comes with things like we got to spend more money cleaning it up because there’s more people. Our custodial work out there has increased exponentially. The off duty police protection has increased. Trying to get kids off the playgrounds late at night when it’s closing at eleven. Those are good problems to have because a lot of people want to go out there. But one of the things that unfortunately we’re going to have to do to make sure that it looks the best is we’ve got a big two acre oval and that has a ring of sidewalk around it and inside it, it’s got all this grass. Well, the original soil that the sod was planted on top of is your typical Georgia clay. What’s happening is when it gets wet and you have a lot of weight on it, like whether it was two years ago, the festival was rained. The first year out there it rained, it was kind of a mess. We’ve had some concerts where it’s wet, you get on it and when the clay gets wet it gets squishy and so it squishes down and it gets uneven. And then when it dries it gets hard, but it then hardens with all the waves and undulation of all the weight. So one thing you’ve got is it started to get lumpy. And the other thing is clay doesn’t necessarily always facilitate grass growing. So we known that there was a risk that we had to do with this. But anyway, at the day after the last concert we got a project. We’re going to come in and we’re going to remove the sod and about 2ft of all the soil and the clay. Then we’re going to put in a drainage bed for it to drain the water better. We’re going to put in good soil, and then we’re going to attempt because we prefer grass over artificial, we’re going to attempt to put Sod back and go one more year, next year, and see if we can’t if there’s enough gaps between when you have large groups of people on it that the grass will grow well, and hopefully that’s the case. If not, we’ll ultimately go to turf. But either way we’ve got to improve the drainage. So that will happen right after the last concert. We’re also the original locations of the three. First call it playground equipment where you have two climbing things and you have that hill with the slide, right. That area is going to become a taut area, meaning playground equipment specifically for kids that are like four years and under so much lower, easier, safer type of playground stuff. So that’ll be kind of the todd area. Then if you want to consider the area where the Qantas and all the big stuff is kind of the intermediate, then if you feeling froggy you can go over to the fitness trail and some things there. Now we’re going to have to make some improvements to the fitness trail as well. For us to insure it, we’re going to have to put a fence around that area and there’s going to have to be some signage out there restricting it to people of a certain age or ability. Okay.
Rico Figliolini 0:28:13
Isn’t there insurance on there already?
Brian Johnson 0:28:16
There is, but what’s happening is the insurance company saying, look, you just opened up all this new playground equipment that is attracting a lot more people. Well, those kids especially, there’s a lot of unsupervised kids there. They then turn around and right there is this other stuff and they want to go and do it and they’re not either capable or old enough or under supervision. And so we’re going to have to it’ll stay there. We’ll make it look it’ll still be look unique. We’re kind of coming up with ideas on way to do that, but that’s coming. And then redoing the sod and the tot lot will start the day after the last compter. So we don’t interfere with any of that. It’ll be the fall but here maybe within a month we’re going to start construction of the dog park.
Rico Figliolini 0:29:11
Now where is that going to be in relation to stuff?
Brian Johnson 0:29:14
So if you’re standing on the town green staring at the stage, it’ll be to the left of Cinebistro in the woods. It’ll be almost alongside of Cinnabestro as you’re staring or if you want to consider it, the back of Cinnabestro if you’re going in bistro’s front door but.
Rico Figliolini 0:29:34
There’s a walkway that goes that winds out.
Brian Johnson 0:29:38
It’ll be where the dog park a little bit farther back. Probably the best way to get to the dog park is going to be to drive your car to the side surface parking lot for cinema. Okay, that’ll be the best way to enter it. And so we’re going to have a dog park, a pretty big dog park. Some of it will have two areas, one for bigger dogs, one for smaller ones. And then within each of those areas there’ll be some artificial turf and some natural area with certain little things for the dog and then seating area that are covered for the dog owners. And then we’re exploring putting in some sort of a call it a permanent stand, if you will. But it may be almost like operate like a bar or a beverage area where once you go inside the fenced area of the dog park you could go up to this area and get a drink.
Rico Figliolini 0:30:34
Okay, that sounds cool. All right. That’s probably one of the local businesses already. Or maybe another business would be there.
Brian Johnson 0:30:42
If we did it. We probably bid it out and see who wants to run it.
Rico Figliolini 0:30:47
Brian Johnson 0:30:49
We’re certainly not going to, I’m not going to be pouring mixing drinks or anything. Yeah, there’s some good around here. Buckhead has a dog park that’s wildly successful, and they have a little mini bar that operates certain hours so that the dog owners go there and while they’re watching their dog and socializing, they can get a drink. This is why we created it. It’s a gathering space and hopefully some of this activity bleeds over into the forum. The forum started their phase one of parking spots and putting in more outdoor seating and outdoor amenity space. So they’re moving forward with their stuff. So a lot going on in that area because that’s our downtown and we want to make sure we support it.
Rico Figliolini 0:31:41
Definitely a lot of activity and even more stuff that’s going to be coming along that we’ll be talking about in further podcasts once the feasibility study has been finished with the Pickleball study and a bunch of other things also that’s happening, like the comprehensive plan because that comes to a head at some point, actually. When does the final report get put out?
Brian Johnson 0:32:05
August or September 1 of the two.
Rico Figliolini 0:32:08
So we’ll be covering that as well and talking about that on these podcasts. So we’ve come to the end of our time, I think, Brian, and don’t want to monopolize all your time.
Brian Johnson 0:32:18
Rico Figliolini 0:32:19
I do appreciate you being out with us and talking to us about these things. It’s good to get clarity and thank you for your input in the city’s point of view on Lululemon and the things going on as well as the stuff coming up. I mean, all exciting, all exciting things. So check out, our listeners here, check out LivinginPeachtreeCorners.com for a little bit more on what’s going on in the city. And our latest issue is out. It’s actually at locations like Ingles and Dunkin Donuts. It’s in a bunch of other places. It’s going to hit the mailbox in a few days, so check it out. There’s a lot of stuff on it. And Summer reading recommendations is the cover story, so see what your neighbors are recommending as far as what’s a good read this summer. Check that out. Hang in there with me as I close out. Thank you again for our lead sponsor, EV Remodeling, for being a sponsor of this and for Clear Wave Fiber for being joining us as a new sponsor and a great supporter for this coming year. But thank you all. Talk to you later.
City Manager: City Marshal Regs and Policies, Pickleball Feasibility Study, Weather Preparations and More
What’s the function of a City Council Work Session that is open to the public? The upcoming meeting will see a discussion of proposed City Marshal regulations and policies and the presentation of the Pickleball Feasibility study. We also discussed with the city manager the construction of an innovative EV charging station and the ongoing city commitment to sustainability, public safety, and community well-being. Plus, the latest updates on infrastructure improvements, the ongoing programs to address stormwater issues and power outages, and housing initiatives.
[00:00:00] – Introduction
[00:02:15] – Explanation of Work Session and Its Purpose
[00:04:18] – Parking Deck Design
[00:09:18] – City Marshal Regulations and Policies
[00:15:02] – Discussion on Pickleball Facility Feasibility Study
[00:20:10] – Preparing for Hurricane Season and Power Outages
[00:31:48] – Protecting Power Lines and Using Underground Lines
[00:34:47] – Solis Development and Its Start Date
[00:35:50] – Broadstone Development and Its Progress
[00:37:00] – Other Ongoing Construction Projects and Improvements
[00:39:48] – Trailheads and Affordable Housing
[00:43:16] – Peachtree Corners Festival and the Electrify Expo
[00:44:44] – Park Improvements and Housing Initiatives
[00:46:15] – Closing
“Where we run into a problem is when trees are into live power lines, we can’t cut those trees and remove them by blocking roads until the power company shuts off the power. So it all depends on how many crews they have out and how many trees that are still laying in live power lines is how fast we can clear the road and how fast you get power. The best way to alleviate this, they remove those limbs hanging over a power line… But it’s also controversial.”BRian johnson
Rico Figliolini 0:00:00
Hey everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life. I thank you for coming and joining us for Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager. Hey, Brian. How are you?
Brian Johnson 0:00:10
Good. How are you?
Rico Figliolini 0:00:11
Good seeing you again. It’s been a while. I know we’ve been sort of a week past our normal stuff, so I appreciate you making time for me. I do want to share with everyone our sponsors and thank them. So we have EV Remodeling, Inc. A company that does a lot of design and build and a lot of renovation work here in the City of Peachtree Corners and in the metro area. Eli. The owner lives here in Peachtree Corners. Great family. They do great work. You should check them out. We do appreciate the support of our podcasts and our advertising in our magazines. So go to Evremodelinginc.com and find out a little bit more about them as well. Our other lead sponsors, Clearwave Fiber, they do a lot of Internet. All of it is internet for business and residential. They do a lot of work in the City of Peachtree Corners. In fact, you’ll find some of the highlighted businesses that are clients of theirs that have taken on their service for their work and their businesses. You’ll find some of those profiles appearing in Peachtree Corners magazine over the next few months to learn a little bit more about how those companies work here in the city. You may not even realize they exist here and also see how Clearwave works for them. So check them out. Clearwave Fiber. If you Google them, Peachtree Corners, you’ll see exactly what they’re doing here. So I want to thank them also for being a sponsor of these podcasts and our magazine. OK, now that I’ve done that and thanked everyone, there’s a lot of stuff that I just want to get into. But the biggest part is the upcoming work session, Brian and people may not realize what that is, so work session is the session that’s held prior to a city council meeting which is held once a month. Both of them are held once a month. And that work session is really to work through the process and seeing proposals and presentations prior to that city council meeting. So this way the city council can probably have their questions during that session answered during that city council meeting.
Brian Johnson 0:02:15
And in addition to prepping council for what’s going to be put in front of them for formal votes, it gives council opportunities to provide input and staff has time to make adjustments from the time between when I present council stuff at the work session and then the two weeks later the city council meeting. So we make tweaks to certain things. No votes are taken at a work session. It’s kind of the sleeves rolled up type of discussion. I also put stuff in front of council that don’t actually require formal action, but I want their guidance on things or I’ll take their temperature on stuff. It’s an informal meeting, but it’s a public meeting and council is there in their capacity as members of the governing body. And they’re getting ready these issues, ready for formal action at the subsequent council meeting.
Rico Figliolini 0:03:14
So there’s no obviously this is a work session, so there’s no public comments here, but anyone’s welcome to come visit and listen into these work sessions.
Brian Johnson 0:03:23
That’s correct. They’re public meeting, there is no public comment. So there’s no interaction with council. There’s no votes taken by council.
Rico Figliolini 0:03:31
Right. And just so then people know, I think originally there were two council meetings, I think a month when the city first started or something like that.
Brian Johnson 0:03:39
No, there was still only one. But they did the work session on the same night as council meeting. They would do it persona. The problem with that is when you go a month between getting council together, it can be problematic when you sometimes need I need interaction with them. And so I split that out. And so now it’s every two weeks they get together. One is the work session and then one is the council meeting. So it makes it to where I get them in a room often enough that I can get the answers I need or get them prepared for the votes I need.
Rico Figliolini 0:04:18
Right. So this is happening September twelveTH, Tuesday, and it may happen a little earlier than normal, it sounds like, because it’s going to be a packed meeting. So that’s what I want to talk about. I want to talk about what’s going to be going on in that meeting a little bit. Let’s start with so for example, the parking deck is going to be brought up. It’s going to be the design of the parking deck is going to be presented. Talk a little bit about correct. I’m sorry, I should have been more clear. And this is the parking deck that will be built behind Belk’s, if I’m correct.
Brian Johnson 0:04:52
Right next to Belk. Yeah. That big open surface parking lot that they have there is where the parking deck will go in. And the parking deck’s purpose is to replace the parking stalls that are being removed on the main boulevard of the Forum for those public spaces and the jewel box stores that are going in, well, they’re taking up parking and we need to replace it. So the design of that parking deck and how it’ll screen itself from the neighboring residents is the last piece of the Forum’s rezoning that they needed to do. And that is council had to approve the design of the parking deck. So that’s one of the items that they’ll see, the renderings of it and they’ll make any comments.
Rico Figliolini 0:05:44
I’ve forgotten how many floors, how many spots will be roughly in that deck.
Brian Johnson 0:05:50
Think it’s going to be three floors, or call it two covered floors. And then the top floor is open to the elements.
Rico Figliolini 0:05:56
Brian Johnson 0:05:58
It’s 300 and some change spots.
Rico Figliolini 0:06:02
Yeah, that’s what I thought, because anyone that goes through the Forum now obviously can’t go through all the Forum because of near Jason’s Deli. That’s where they’re building that two story or two floors, I guess, jewel boxes back there. And hopefully that should be finished when they said that was going to be finished, but not too far into the future, I’m sure. A few more months. It looks like they’re really on their way to getting that done. And that parking deck, I think, if I remember correctly, one of the options was also talked about sealing the wall park facing Amberfield. So this way there’s no, like it’s a full solid wall on the back there versus open.
Brian Johnson 0:06:41
That is correct. It is a solid wall as it faces the neighboring residence, so there won’t be any light pollution of headlights as cars make turns inside or park. So that’s part of it.
Rico Figliolini 0:06:54
Anything special? Any special features like EV charging station? Anything special that will be done to it?
Brian Johnson 0:07:01
There are going to be EV charging stalls. It’s going to have security cameras. It has special lighting to keep the light pollution down that are built into hooded locations along the walls. So the purpose of it is just to provide a parking deck that looks good from the outside. It ties in architecturally with the rest of the form, so it’s going to look the same as the current architectural features. And it screens the neighboring residents so they don’t have to have their quality of life affected by the operations within the parking deck.
Rico Figliolini 0:07:42
Right. I would imagine there would be immediate access from that parking deck through between the buildings to get to the forum. I guess. I’m not sure how they’re adjusting that.
Brian Johnson 0:07:51
But there is there’ll be two ways to get to the parking deck. One is under the arch right there by the big fountain.
Rico Figliolini 0:07:57
Brian Johnson 0:07:58
The other would be coming around the backside by Ted’s Montana grill. That would be the other way to get to and from the parking deck. There won’t be any way to get there from the north side of the.
Rico Figliolini 0:08:14
Start. That construction is going to start probably, I guess, somewhere in first quarter.
Brian Johnson 0:08:18
Rico Figliolini 0:08:20
Do they know how long it’ll take to finish? Any estimate?
Brian Johnson 0:08:23
Rico Figliolini 0:08:24
Really? Okay. All right.
Brian Johnson 0:08:26
And once it’s done, they can start removing the remainder of the parking stalls in the middle boulevard, heading down towards and finishing up in front of Belk.
Rico Figliolini 0:08:36
Right. According to the plans, it looks like that’s where an entertainment stage would be built and some of the jewel boxes and a concierge area and stuff. Cool. So anyone that wants to come see, there will be plans presented of what this is going to look like, and then it’ll be taken up at the next city council meeting. And that’s where a vote would be. That next city council meeting.
Brian Johnson 0:08:59
Correct. September 26, two weeks later is when council would formally approve that via a vote. But they’ll see the designs in case they have questions and provide input. Yeah, have questions, and there might be some tweaking. They’re like, oh, we don’t like that. We like x. We like y better, or whatever.
Rico Figliolini 0:09:18
Right? All right, cool. So the other big thing that’s going to be happening at that work session will be discussion with city marshal and the regulations they’re going to be in place. Stuff like do you do car chases? What do you use it for? A bunch of things like that. But also the design of the vehicles. The vehicle wrap is going to be presented as well. So tell us a little bit about what type of regulations are going to be discussed and is there anything surprising along the way that you found, or tell us something.
Brian Johnson 0:09:51
So our city marshals are going to be post certified law enforcement officers. So they’re going to have the exact same authority that you would have as somebody who calls themselves a police officer. But when you have that, you’ve got to have policies in place to regulate how they use that authority. That come with being post certified law enforcement officers. So, for instance, use of force, what kind of guidelines are we going to give them to, say, the escalation of force or high speed pursuit, or when are they going to be authorized to chase a vehicle at a high rate of speed, turn on their sirens, things like that? You’ve got other little things like the vehicle use policy. Where can they drive the vehicle, how far? Because we’re letting them do use them as take home vehicles, which is very common the law enforcement community, and how far out do you let them drive? And then even the design of some of their uniforms and the wrap of the vehicles will be discussed so that, you know, this is all getting them in preparation for the November council meeting. And why that’s important is by November, I will have the chief marshal in place. I just concluded my interviews. We advertised for the position, and I just concluded last week my series of interviews of candidates. And I’ll start the negotiation of our first candidate to see about all the typical stuff, money and everything like that, right. We’ll have the chief marshal in place by November, and we’ll have the policies in place by then. We can have the vehicles wrapped by then, and all those things that you need. The intergovernmental agreements with some of the surrounding law enforcement agencies. And there’s a lot of know, like, how do we tie into the radios that Gwinnett County uses? That’s really important because they’re still our primary police department getting access to and set up so that our marshals can look at the entirety of our video surveillance system that we have in the city. We have a significant amount of cameras getting all those things accessed. I will be ready by November. And so the November city council meeting, we’re going to have a formal call it swearing in ceremony, where they’ll be sworn in as marshals, which theoretically is symbolic because they already have the authority. But that’ll be when we’ll invite the media. They’ll be available for interviews, we’ll kind of talk a little bit more about it. That is when they’re ready to start going out into the community and you’ll start seeing them out there doing their thing. Prior to that, I need to again have the policies that sets their left and right limit and we’re not quite there. So council is going to be fed policies over the next three work session and city council meetings in preparation for that November. So some of the ones on the September work session are going to be some of those policies like use of force and high school.
Rico Figliolini 0:13:22
When they vote on that, that would be in November, I’m assuming. Will there be public comment at that point on the regulations? How does that work? If citizens want to review it?
Brian Johnson 0:13:36
Policy would be adopted via ordinance, which has a public hearing component. So when it is presented, the public will certainly be able to make comment on the policy.
Rico Figliolini 0:13:52
And that would happen in November, I guess the public comment as well, or private.
Brian Johnson 0:13:57
Anytime, any of these, each of these policies requires a separate vote. Okay, so like use of force as individual officers, that’s a vote because that’s a standalone policy. Body cameras, when they’re turned on, when they’re supposed to be turned on, how long you store it, all that kind of stuff, that’s another policy and that’s voted on separately. So you’re going to have a series of these policies. It’s not just one amalgamation of all of these together, it’s individual policies that.
Rico Figliolini 0:14:29
So does that happen over time until November or in November?
Brian Johnson 0:14:33
Yeah, there’ll be a few over the next three council meetings.
Rico Figliolini 0:14:39
All right. So people should be aware of that. If they want to attend or put.
Brian Johnson 0:14:43
Up public, just look at, watch the website. The agendas go out no later than noon on Friday before the following Tuesday city council meeting. And if you see one of the policies on there that they’re voting on that’s of interest to you, then you’ll know that that’s the meeting that you should show up to.
Rico Figliolini 0:15:02
Got you. Cool. And the city wrap that design, the uniform design, that’s also all coming out at that work session on September twelveTH. Yes, I guess. All right, cool. These work sessions are great, like you said, because it just allows stuff to be discussed and get information or adjustments done before the actual city council meeting and vote. So that’s good. The city is doing that. The other thing, I guess, is with the hurricane season starting well, real quick, real quick, Rico. Sure.
Brian Johnson 0:15:36
One other thing you may want to talk about before we get off of the work session is the Pickleball study.
Rico Figliolini 0:15:42
Okay. All right. You’re right. That’s actually going to be presented prior to the beginning of the first thing of the work session.
Brian Johnson 0:15:50
Yeah, I mean, it’s part of the work session. We just may start the meeting early. Because that is the one thing that even though it’s a work session, I think council is going to open up the floor to anybody who’s there about the feasibility study. Because we had a lot of stakeholders that we invited to be part of this feasibility study. And we’ve invited them back, and we want them, as it’s fresh on their mind, the mayor is going to let if any of them have any comments that they want to make on it, they’ll do it there, which doesn’t usually happen at a work session, and it’ll only be that particular thing. But they’re going to open up the floor, buddy, make comments.
Rico Figliolini 0:16:33
So they’re going to make a presentation first and they’ll open up the floor. And if I understand correctly, is there anything you could say about that study prior to that meeting?
Brian Johnson 0:16:43
Yeah, what they’re going to do is they’re going to come back and they’re going to tell us how supportive our area, whether it’s inside of our corporate limits or the greater area outside our boundaries. But this part of north metro Atlanta, how much support there is for Pickleball, how big of a facility they think that should be constructed if we want to have a facility that’s hitting the sweet spot, it’s not too big, it’s not too small. And they’ve looked at really three different sizes of facilities and they’ll come back and they’ll tell us which one they think is the one that hits, that makes that tuning fork go off when it comes to use and support for it from the local community. So that’s the conclusion of the study as to which size would be that sweet spot for us to meet demand but not overbuild and not be able to fill it or don’t underbuild. Where is that, what number is that, how many are indoor, how many are outdoor, is there a food and beverage component? All of that is part of the study.
Rico Figliolini 0:17:57
Well, true. So, I mean, obviously a smaller ten quart place would really be more of an altar size, maybe going anywhere from a 24 to a 50 court or 40 court going from a regional to a national. They’re going to discuss, like you said, what that sweet spot is going to be for the city. And the city is going to be talking also about, or at least the proposal will talk about that private public partnership, what that could look like, I guess. Does the city take on the construction of it and then the rest of it is done by private industry? Or is it built with public private cooperation? That’s all going to be part of that discussion. I guess, or presentation.
Brian Johnson 0:18:40
Yeah, we can only go so far on that because one, I’m not going to have a private partner standing next to me saying we’ve already hammered out the details, we certainly can’t talk about location yet because we don’t currently own any property in which this would go.
Rico Figliolini 0:19:00
Will they make recommendations though, in the feasibility study as far as possible areas versus exact location?
Brian Johnson 0:19:08
Probably not, just because what it does is it makes it difficult for us to acquire it if somebody is like, oh, we heard that you’re interested because if a certain area of the city is conveyed to be a good place, you and I both know that you don’t have to know. There’s a lot of people that can then say, oh, they want this area of the city. Well the only place it makes sense is and then they can zero in on and so it just makes it difficult when you do that because when people think the city is the one or a city is the one behind a purchase, they’re like, oh, deep pockets, and then they start holding out for more money. So that’s why we can’t really I don’t want to get we certainly have locations that we have our eye on that we think it would work, but just if we talked about it yet, we could actually hurt ourselves and would have to pay more money than we might have to pay if we don’t.
Rico Figliolini 0:20:10
That also, I think if I remember correctly, that happened with the roundabout at Medlock Bridge when people found out that that’s where the roundabout was going to be before the property had to be purchased or parts of properties had to be purchased. Yeah, that was a bit of a problem at the time, I think. Oh yeah.
Brian Johnson 0:20:28
We had to ultimately condemn two of the slivers of property to get them to sell because their sale price was 300% higher than the appraised value.
Rico Figliolini 0:20:41
No doubt people want to make their money when they can, I guess. All right, cool. So people should be able to come, you should be able to attend and you should attend September twelveTH to find out more about these things. It’s going to be a heavy duty work session, probably a longer one than usual, I’m sure. So let’s also get on to a little bit about like I was saying before, the hurricane season is coming in. Some of these hurricanes are possibly going to be worse than usual. Certainly the category four that hit Florida and went through Florida, missed Peachtree corners. Really, we got some heavy rains, but it wasn’t bad. It had been worse and it skirted southeast of Georgia going up. But when I saw that, I think Bush Road got hit with no power at one point, I think during that or around that time. So a section of Bush Road, that area, those communities were without power for a few hours, I think. Does the city between power outages, possible floodings? We talked about this a little before and I didn’t even know this. I’ll admit that things are built based on a 50 year floodplain, a flood zone. I just assumed it was 100 or more. I didn’t realize it was only a 50 year mark. And people don’t even know. I think if you go to certain parks, you could actually see a 500 year mark of flood, a flood mark in some of the I saw that, I think it was Tilly Mill, one of the big parks. So we’ve been hit with major floods in certain parts of Gwinnett County at one time over the last 200 and 5500 years. Not to say that that would happen again, but how does the city look at weather, power outages? I know people sometimes next door say they say we’re a smart city, why do we keep when the wind blows, the power goes out or something? That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but sometimes I feel the same way when it’s not even storming and the power is going out or flickering. So how does the city address those things?
Brian Johnson 0:22:46
Well, let me unpack this and separate two components of what we really face in Peachtree Corners when it comes to severe weather and that’s flooding and power outage. Flooding, the city has much more of a direct role in that. So I’ll start with we’re part of the National Flood Insurance program with the federal government and FEMA, and we are also part of their community rating system, which is basically like ISO for fire, which is you get graded and the better you’re prepared for, say, fire, you get a better ISO rating. And the better ISO rating you get, the lower your homeowner’s insurance is, because insurance companies say, hey, we feel like that community is less apt to have a fire event destroy the property because the fire department and the water supply and everything is good. So we voluntarily enrolled in that program and we have a rating for the first time two years ago, I think we got, and we improved it last year, which helps everybody’s flood insurance, homeowners insurance, decrease the rate. But we have a stormwater management plan within the city and we do things and the stormwater user fee that you pay on your property tax bill every year, which is a fee based on how much impervious surface that you have in the city, which is surface that doesn’t allow water to percolate into the soil. So rooftop, driveway, sidewalk, things like that. What that goes to is the program of us managing the overall drainage infrastructure for the city. And we maintain, inspect and maintain and repair as needed. A lot of underground and even open drainage facilities, detention ponds, underground drainage lines, detention vaults, stream, bank restoration, keeping erosion from and we have creeks in the city, we have lakes in the city. We’ve got all this stuff that we have to manage because everybody’s water has to flow at some point into the public system. And that public system is our responsibility. So the city uses this money to both proactively make upgrades to our public drainage system and to make repairs. The result is we don’t necessarily have a flooding problem like a wholesale one. We do have isolated locations where you can get certain structures that are below grade and water flows kind of through their property, and we address it on a case by case basis, but we’re set up pretty well. One thing people have to remember is a lot of these subdivisions and homes were only designed back in the day to a 50 year flood event. And so that’s essentially like, handle rain that you would get once every 50 years. Well, weather has changed, and now we’re getting into 150 year flood events, and the standards have gone up on new builds. But we have a lot of subdivisions that were built 25 years older. And sometimes you just get a lot of water that hits in a very short period of time. And the drainage pipes can only handle so much water, and then water backs up until it’s like traffic. Rush hour is merely an example of trying to push so many cars down a road that has so many lanes all at once, and water is the same way. And so our flooding tends to be temporary when we have it in areas, and it just has got to let the system flush it out. But that’s the drainage part, the flooding part. Yes, it can happen when you get a lot of rain in a short period of time. Or I guess if we had a long rain, like days and days and days of it, where the water gets so soaked that it does not take any more water, that can also do it. But that is one now transitioning into electricity. As we all know, you lose electricity through a number of ways. Most of the time here, it’s due to falling trees or limbs into power lines. That’s how most of it happens here. Now, rain can actually, we could have an event. In fact, the storm, we had, what, two days ago? Two nights ago, we didn’t really have any high wind, we just had a lot of rain. And we actually had a really big tree fall into the roadway just because the ground got so saturated. It had been leaning just enough, and then just the roots were in ground that had become so that is one now when it comes to high winds, that can certainly wreak havoc. And when that happens, we react by having we had this, what, a month ago? Six weeks ago, we had the big.
Rico Figliolini 0:28:11
40, 50 miles an hour gust of.
Brian Johnson 0:28:13
Wind, not for long trees down here in the city. And our public works crews came in and started cutting trees that were blocking roads. Now, where we run into a problem is when trees are into live power lines, we can’t cut those trees and remove them by blocking roads until the power company shuts off the power. So it all depends on how many crews they have out and how many trees that are still laying in live power lines is how fast we can clear the road and how fast you get power. The best way to alleviate this, there’s the more inexpensive way, and that is Georgia Power goes through sections of the city, and they basically stand under the power lines. And they look up and they look at limbs that are hanging over the power lines and maybe a few trees that they feel are and they remove those. So a limb hanging over a power line falling doesn’t cut power because they’ve cut the limb back. And so that’s one way. And they have done that. We did a lot of that about a year and a half, two years ago in the Long Spalding Drive down at Neely Farm, gun and Road. There was a lot of it. East Jones Bridge. West Jones Bridge. They’re due to do another one of those. It’s also controversial. Sometimes people don’t like that, or sometimes the limbs that have to be removed are going to kill the tree. And so the whole tree has got to go. And some of those trees are actually not they’re on private property, and so some homeowners get upset about it. So that’s not without controversy either. So that’s one way to do it. And that’s the more inexpensive way to help protect the power lines. The best way is to what they call harden. And that is basically to bury and burying power lines is always the best way to protect and harden the system. But it’s very expensive.
Rico Figliolini 0:30:27
Has that been done and where has it been done in?
Brian Johnson 0:30:30
I mean, you know, you have know, Technology Park, all the power lines are buried, but in the neighbor residential neighborhoods, you oftentimes only have it inside the neighborhood. So, for instance, I live in Riverfield, inside a neighborhood, it’s buried. But where we tie in on East Jones Bridge is not. So if East Jones Bridge gets hit by a tree, we’re out of electricity. Now, power company also tries to do loop. They try to loop the electricity. So there’s a redundant or call it a secondary method to get electricity. So if you had a circle and there was a break in one part, you still have the ability to get electricity. The other way, that’s an expansion of the system. They try to do that as well, but it just comes down to money. And where Georgia Power is looking, there are other communities that have risks that are greater than ours. So I can’t speak on their process, but I do know that they use and we’ve loaned them or helped. Supplement their technology by using LiDAR to a form of radar to actually map where limbs were creating a risk to the lines. And so they’ve used technology to identify the more higher risk areas. But that’s the flooding and the electricity part and how it happens and how we address it. We certainly as a municipality are here when trees go down or blocking roads or people are stranded. We have an emergency response plan. We can stand up certain positions within the city. Our marshals will be another resource. When they start going out and work in the community in late November, they’re going to carry things like chainsaws in the trunk of their vehicles and they’ll be able to go out and do things like that. So it’s unfortunate. We all live with it. Weather is not getting any more calm.
Rico Figliolini 0:32:39
Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Since 95, I think, perceptibly I’ve seen more harsher weather happening here. Anecdotally anyway, I’ve seen it, it is not going to get better. And they’re even talking about a harsh winter maybe.
Brian Johnson 0:32:57
And then you can get ice on the power lines and they get too heavy and you get power poles that will fall because of that. Or power lines snap. Yeah. Burying it is always the best, but it’s expensive and it requires sometimes more property and people’s yards and front entrances of subdivisions. And I wish it was easy and inexpensive, but it isn’t. And so that’s where we’re at.
Rico Figliolini 0:33:27
I think people just, if they really are in need of electricity, for whatever reason, they should make sure they have a generator, a gas generator or generac, something that’s installed using gas or propane or something like that. If you really need it for some reason, that’s a good way of backing that up. I just want to go through a couple of quick things and then we could do a wrap. A couple of things I’m just curious about right at this point. Charlie Roberts, what we call the Charlie Roberts property, which is the property which is not Charlie Roberts property anymore. It was bought by a different company. I can’t pronounce the name right now. Thank you. And I could have if I had it written in front of me, maybe, but I think they’ve moved a few things. But when are they actually going to do you have any idea when they’re actually going to break ground behind Chase and HW Steakhouse there? I guess.
Brian Johnson 0:34:29
In November they’re going to start site work. The development is called solis. Solis. And they’re going to break ground in November or not break they’re going to start site work, prepping the pad for them to go vertical. But they’re going to start in November.
Rico Figliolini 0:34:47
Okay. And they’re probably going to take six to twelve months, I guess, to build it out.
Brian Johnson 0:34:51
Yeah, it’ll be a twelve month project.
Rico Figliolini 0:34:53
Yeah. So I mean, the other one that’s north of Racetrack and the wine store that Span, they’re already preselling. I don’t know if they finished any units yet. I think they might have some units finished, but they’re pre selling units there now. They’re actually doing tours. I think they actually have a complete unit or two. So they’re moving along, it sounds like.
Brian Johnson 0:35:16
Yeah, that’s broadstone. The apartment units. I do believe there’s a section that’s done, but the townhomes have gone vertical. You can see those ones closest to the liquor store there. And then they’ve got the office, the commercial building that was existing there, it’s being rebuilt. That’s going up right now, too. So I think most what they’re going vertical with has actually gone vertical.
Rico Figliolini 0:35:50
Lots of stuff going on. I think, obviously, intuitive, is further along where they want to be. Some of the building looks like it’s actually the outsides are actually a little closer to finish and they’re probably working on the inside as well. Quick trip demoing. There’s nothing that they have to they’re just going to build right on where they have it. They’re probably going to take up that same building pad, I bet, to be.
Brian Johnson 0:36:16
Okay because otherwise it’s a little bit bigger. But they’re basically building a newer store right on the very same location. But these kind of things, as you know, it’s a competition. Racetrack has their floor plan and their site plan, and QT has got to compete with it. They’ve got to have certain stations and a flow about it. So their store was showing its age. So they just said, we’re going to know it’s not uncommon. We had Chick fil A do the same thing. We had Wendy’s do the same thing, just upgrading their store. So, yeah, QTS is going down to the ground and building a brand new one on the same they do.
Rico Figliolini 0:37:00
You know, if they’re going to assuming they’re also going to take out the origin of the gas tanks underground or are they going to keep what they have there?
Brian Johnson 0:37:08
No, they’re going to keep it there. I don’t know if they may be going to more pumps, like one more additional pump on each of the islands. I don’t know that for sure. But tanks are staying underground.
Rico Figliolini 0:37:24
So they’re in good condition, I’d imagine. I just keep wondering why half the pumps are yellow bagged over there. But I guess that’s a question for them because maybe they’re not getting enough supply or something. The other building that I saw was the BB T building, which right across from CVS, part of the Forum, not part of that property, but an extension of it that they just gated that out and they’re pulling things out of it. It’s going to remain a bank, it sounds like.
Brian Johnson 0:37:55
Yeah, it’s a credit union of some sort. I don’t remember the name. I had not personally heard of this credit union, but I know they’re doing a renovation over there. I think they’re removing some of the drive in stuff. Nobody uses drive in really anymore.
Rico Figliolini 0:38:13
Right. ATM, probably.
Brian Johnson 0:38:15
Right? ATM. Or maybe they’re even removing some of the lanes completely because there’s just not enough because I think they have like four lanes that you could go into drive through.
Rico Figliolini 0:38:25
Brian Johnson 0:38:26
So, yeah, there’s some renovation of some sort, but it is staying in the financial it’s another financial institution.
Rico Figliolini 0:38:34
Anything new going on that we should be aware of? Revitalizing wise or redevelopment wise? Anything special that pops out over the last month and a half?
Brian Johnson 0:38:44
I mean, Redevelopment Authority has got two big projects they’re working on on the south side of the city. One is some trailhead locations where you’re talking about being able to drive your car and park it there with bathrooms and playground, picnic areas and it’ll tie into the multi use trail system. And then we’ve got some housing going on down the south side as well that we’re going to help try and facilitate the construction of what is oftentimes called starter home workforce housing. But equity product. These are buildings you purchase, you don’t rent. But to try to do it in a way that it’s affordable, meaning it’s market rate. But we’re going to try to help facilitate keeping it from the owners, from maxing out the amount they can get for it because that tends to price people right out of the market.
Rico Figliolini 0:39:48
There’s no way to keep it to one purchaser, someone that buys it, that lives there, versus someone picking up ten of these properties as an investment.
Brian Johnson 0:39:59
You mean owner occupied?
Rico Figliolini 0:40:01
Correct. Thank you.
Brian Johnson 0:40:03
Well, interestingly enough, we are looking at potentially an ordinance where we are going to limit the commercial purchasing of equity products in which some company buys, say, ten townhomes, and then they turn around and rent the townhomes. And that defeats the purpose of trying to get somebody who is an owner occupied tenant of the building, which we feel increases the odds that they put roots in the community. They own something here, so they’re like, you know what, I may want to stay here a long time. I may want to get civically active and get my kids enrolled versus sometimes not all the time. There’s always exceptions to this. Sometimes renters feel that they’re much more flexible in where they live and so they don’t get as involved in the community because they’re thinking, well, I can leave very quickly and I may not stay here, so I’m not going to get involved like I would if I own. So that’s generally the debate between two products.
Rico Figliolini 0:41:12
There’s more pride, I think, when you own it and more investment also that you take care of it because you do own it. It’s an investment in what you can sell later at a better price maybe.
Brian Johnson 0:41:24
Yeah, I agree with you there’s. Again, always exceptions, but I think if you own something and if it gets damaged, it’s on you to fix it. You tend to take care of things more than if you were a renter.
Rico Figliolini 0:41:36
Yeah, and I think I’ve seen it at least in the city of Atlanta and in some parts outside, like Habitat for Humanity, is that right? Yeah. And some other organizations that actually do these types of they’ll do ten or 15 home structures like that in an area. I mean, has the city thought about working with organizations like that? Because those end up for sure in the hands of people that could use them, that are starter homes like that.
Brian Johnson 0:42:07
Oh, they will be a part of this project. We’ve already oh, yeah, absolutely.
Rico Figliolini 0:42:13
Excellent. Do you know when that’s happening or when the regulation that you talked about, the owner occupied stuff, the limitation on that? Any idea?
Brian Johnson 0:42:23
We’re internally, city attorney, community development director and I are kind of looking at case law and other precedent to see how far we can push that. We’re probably a month or two away of presenting council, something for them to consider.
Rico Figliolini 0:42:41
All right, cool. All right, great. I think we’ve covered a lot of the stuff. Peachtree Corners Festival is coming up in September. I know that the second annual Electrify Expo is that what we’re calling it? Is happening during the I think during the festival last year. The second day, maybe. Yeah. Cool. And Jim Ellis is one of several probably dealerships that bring in their cars to it, and anyone can actually register to bring their own electric cars, vehicles to this event to show off.
Brian Johnson 0:43:16
Yeah, it is an EV car show of any type, and we’ve had everything from just your run of the know, off the line electric vehicle, Tesla, whatever, to very unique retrofitted vehicles, some vintage stuff that’s been, I mean, the Batmobile, just some interesting stuff. So, yeah, if it’s EV and you want to bring it out, or you want to come and see some of the unique EV options that are out there, come to that part of the show, I mean, it’ll be in the same parking lot as the vintage car show that’s associated with okay.
Rico Figliolini 0:43:55
And I think I remembered last year, even Paul Duke Stem had their electric race team there with their car that they built.
Brian Johnson 0:44:03
Rico Figliolini 0:44:04
And they’ve been racing around the region actually ever since then, I think, or before. So kind of kind of cool stuff. So if you have an electric vehicle that looks interesting that you put together, definitely go to the city’s website, register, and show up and show off your stuff. So that’s a good thing. Great. I think we’ve hit more than I thought we had. So it’s all good. Appreciate, Brian, that you join me every month to talk about these things. Eventually, at some point, I’d like to actually do this live. You all are watching this. If you’re watching it live, it’s actually a simulcast live stream, which means that we’ve recorded it, but we’re streaming this live on our Facebook pages and YouTube as well. But at some point we may be looking at TikTok doing some of this on there or on X or Twitter, do we call it that? I don’t know, space where we might be able to stream some stuff, take some live questions. So still working that up. Looking for a sponsor if there’s anyone out there that would like us to do that and just to share that. We’re also doing a sports podcast. So I have a former student intern that’s actually taking up and doing a sports podcast with student athletes and such. So that’ll be a video podcast, follow up with an article. We’re going to be doing that once or twice a month, so check that out when it comes out. And if you have any ideas that you’d like to share with us about coverage and stuff, certainly do that. I want to thank our sponsors again, EV Remodeling Inc. And Clearwave Fiber for stepping up, for supporting us for these podcasts as well as the publications and doing the things that we do. Journalism isn’t always easy. We try to get the facts right as best we can. This is why I do these podcasts also, and Brian does it with me to make sure that we’re putting out good, accurate information versus what you might see sometimes posted that may be totally wrong or inaccurate. So this is what we’re trying to do. And sometimes we’ll make mistakes on the print reporter side, but between me and Brian will clarify these things as we go. So thank you, Brian. Appreciate you being with us.
Brian Johnson 0:46:15
Thank you, Rico. Thanks for having me.
Rico Figliolini 0:46:17
Sure. Thanks, guys.
Redevelopment, Solis Apartments, Updates on the City Marshal and Siemens Partnership [Podcast]
From potential redevelopment plans for the Ingle Shopping Center to cutting-edge collaborations with Siemens, this episode uncovers how Peachtree Corners is positioning itself as a hub of innovation and progress. Discover how the city is attracting international businesses, utilizing additional real estate, and embracing the latest advancements in public safety technology. Join us as we explore the thriving landscape of Peachtree Corners on this episode Prime Lunchtime with the City Manager.
[0:00:00] – Introduction and Sponsorship Acknowledgment
[0:02:00] – Discussion about the Ingle Shopping Center Redevelopment
[0:11:54] – Discussion about the Roberts Property Redevelopment and Solis Apartments
[0:19:34] – Updates on the City Marshal Department
[0:28:20] – Partnership with Siemens and Economic Development
[0:32:58] – Closing
Rico Figliolini 0:00:00
Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life, and today we have Prime Lunchtime with City Manager Brian Johnson. Hey Brian, thanks for joining me.
Brian Johnson 0:00:10
Thanks for having me.
Rico Figliolini 0:00:11
For sure. Before we get into the show, we’re going to be talking, just to wet your taste buds a little bit, everyone. We’ll be talking a little bit about the shopping center, the Roberts property behind Chase Bank, what’s going on there, as well as the progress on the City Marshalls. But before we get to that, I just want to say thank you to two of our lead sponsors. One is EV Remodeling Inc. They’re a local company owned by Eli. Eli has done a great job with home remodeling. Anything from $10,000 to $100,000 in work from your backyards to whole house build outs. So check them out. They’re at EVRemodelinginc.com, does great work there. Second one, the second lead sponsor is Clearwave Fiber who’s come on board. They do a lot of the business internet work here in the City of Peachtree Corners. They have over a thousand plus customers, both business and residential. And you can check them out by going through our links, go to our website, you’ll see their ad there and click right through to them. And that’s Clearwave Fiber. So thank you to those guys for supporting us in what we do here. Now let’s get on to doing this every month. Guess part of we’re going to talk about with Ingles is that we’ve talked a little bit about this on another podcast. And we have an article out that came out this morning as we’re taping this. And we talked a little bit about the Ingle Shopping Center possible redevelopment, and it’s really coming from the owners of the property. So tell us a little bit exactly how this is being talked about because I know this has come up several times over the past few years.
Brian Johnson 0:02:00
Well, economic development projects or the pursuit of economic activity are always hard to talk about because they’re moving targets. There’s lots of considerations going on. You’ve got land acquisition and negotiations and different developers or owners kicking tires, seeing what. So it’s always difficult because at any point in time, short of having an inked deal, these things could fall apart. So I only say that to say that it happens. And sometimes all it takes is a word or phrase and done. Not quite as accurate. All of a sudden people, the community thinks that it’s going one direction. You’re like, hold on. So this is no different in that the work that’s being done, the development that’s happened at the Town Center, the redevelopment of the Forum under North American properties ownership has gotten a lot of people excited about possibilities of growth and capitalizing on increased activity that those two sites are generating. And a lot of the property owners that have current existing commercial property adjacent to or near the Town Center and Forum have approached us recently to discuss possibilities. Hey, how might we change or redevelop our property in a way that’s beneficial to the Town Center, and we can benefit from the Town Center and Forum’s activity. And so the Ingle Shopping Center parcel development and the owners of it are no different. They have discussed with us possibilities. And when this happens, sometimes the city, given that we have in house capabilities of doing this, we know the zoning better than anybody else.
Brian Johnson 0:04:13
We know setback density requirements, all that stuff. We can sometimes come up with renderings and conceptual site plan possibilities that it’s easier for us to do than a consultant working for the property owner. And so, in the case of Ingles, in our discussions with the owner of possibilities, we in house generated just a few ideas, not ones that were generated at the request of that development or the owner, but the owner was very open to yeah. If you could show us how it might lay out differently, we could consider it. And obviously, since Ingalls is the anchor tenant there, we all know it as that, and that’s a significant corporate tenant of the.
Rico Figliolini 0:05:09
To. So then people know because they may not know CVS is an out parcel, not part of that property, if you will. So is the Duncan Baskin Robbins store that’s separate also, I believe, right? No, that one’s part of so the.
Brian Johnson 0:05:28
CVS is an out parcel.
Rico Figliolini 0:05:30
Correct. Okay. And the old McDonald’s, is that also separate?
Brian Johnson 0:05:35
Well, it is separate. In our renderings, we just made an assumption based on the owner saying they have a relationship with McDonald’s corporate office because it’s owned by McDonald’s corporate. It’s not owned by a you know, again, but that’s why in economic know, for you to master plan something sometimes to make assumptions of certain things. And so the assumption was that that would be, if this happened, would be acquired and would be added to the block of property that’s just there. And so some of the renderings did have a newer, somewhat smaller footprint for Ingles. It would be like, hey, Ingalls, there would be a smaller footprint built closer to 141 for Ingles to move from their current footprint into a smaller version in which there are some locations that Ingalls has a smaller footprint but has not been discussed with them. They haven’t requested they are not the one requesting any kind of a footprint. You know, you just never know. It’s not uncommon. We’ve done this with some of the other ones as well. But this is what happens. And this is oftentimes, to a degree, how North American properties redevelopment activities at the Forum happened is we generated the city with the previous owner before North American got it. We generated some suggestions in the forms of site plan renderings that got the wheels turning. Ultimately. It was one where the previous owner said that’s great, we’re going to sell it.
Brian Johnson 0:07:21
But when we sell it, we’re going to share the fact that the city is open to some change based on the rendering shared. So these are all very fluid situations which unfortunately, oftentimes more than not, they don’t serialize but miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. So we’re open to trying. So that’s kind of where we are with that, which is nothing may ever happen or there could be a significant upgrade.
Rico Figliolini 0:07:54
And the owner is not a REIT. The owner is a local business group.
Brian Johnson 0:07:58
No, the owner is a Canadian company.
Rico Figliolini 0:08:00
It’s a know, you know, we did talk about it on a podcast and an article about possibly coming from Ingalls, but this was really from the owners of the development of the property there. Now it’s the mean, I think it was about a year ago, maybe a year and a half ago. They also talked about maybe putting gas pumps at one point similar to what Kroger’s has over there. So interesting. But even if anything were to mean, obviously before even ground would break, could probably take two years, I bet, because of rezoning and stuff like that.
Brian Johnson 0:08:42
Yeah, probably not. Well, for them to go vertical with buildings right now, there literally is nothing. So it would have to start from scratch. You’d end up having to do site plan, come up with use, go rezoning, and then that’s when you get the design professionals of architects and engineers that are going to need many months, probably a year to actually generate the construction documents. Then you got to go to construction. And even if you move the angles to a building that’s more forward facing on 141, you would have to construct the new building. And then after they move into the new space, then go back and demolish the existing space to put the new use there. Which is why the Forum is fully redeveloped as probably a five year process because you’ve got new build and then you’ve got some demolition and then you’re fitting pieces into existing properties. Redevelopment is always a lot more challenging and time consuming than new builds.
Rico Figliolini 0:09:51
Well, and you have that whole big right behind Inglesh. You have that whole big not empty, but you have the warehouse park behind Ingles that takes the trucks in that can turn around and stuff. That’s a whole big driveway, if you will, back there. I don’t know if anyone’s really driven back there. It’s huge back there. So even to move that building forward, even on a smaller footprint, you still have to accommodate trucks coming in and stuff. I don’t even know, you know, where the setback is, a valley part near the parkway.
Brian Johnson 0:10:21
I don’t know if that’s a big ditch along 141.
Rico Figliolini 0:10:25
Yeah, that probably would have to bet you that could get filled in or something. I bet you that’s part of that discussion, I would think.
Brian Johnson 0:10:32
Well, it is. We’ve actually looked at that before because it’s horrible, but it is not easy. If it was easy, we would have done it. It is over a million dollars just to fill it in because of the utility work that you’ve got power lines, power poles, you’ve got drainage under it, and being used as a detention facility, a holding facility for extra water when it rains hard. So we’ve looked at it, but yes, redevelopment of the whole thing might include that just to get more real estate, developable real estate. Sure, yeah, big thing may or may not happen. But right now this is pretty common when there’s an interested owner who’s like, look, I’m in this to make money. Like everybody is on these things. And I’m willing to consider what redevelopment changes I might be able to do to ultimately maybe be a better value add to the Town Center Forum and then they can derive more. Maybe they have a use that makes people want to walk over to that location, whereas right now it’s more of a drive to destination.
Rico Figliolini 0:11:54
Yeah, interesting, because even some of the renderings that the city drew up and even their rendering that we’ve put out on our website that we’ve seen that was out there, it would be a multi use. So there’s multiple could be multiple stakeholders in it because one of the things was inactive living maybe seven story tower, six story, whatever would be the center of it, and then retail around it, possibly offices. So it might be two, three floors addition to that. So more use out of that property going vertical like you’ve mentioned before. Yeah, for sure.
Brian Johnson 0:12:33
Definitely closer to 141.
Rico Figliolini 0:12:35
Right. Because there’s all that space. So going from something like that, which is speculation, possible redevelopment going to something consuming. Yes, not just that, but just everything that goes into it. Public hearings, I guess, and all that stuff. Right. So let’s go to somewhere that is pretty much set already to a degree, because it was part of the North American property deal with the Forum and Town Center. So the property that’s commonly known to some people as Roberts property, charlie Roberts that owns the land that’s behind Chase Bank and H and W Steakhouse, that property was rezoned, I think absorbed into the multi use plan that’s there. Right. And then allowed to be departments, I forget how many units, 260 plus maybe somewhere like that. So that was approved, that was all okay. The deal didn’t work through for some reason, whatever that reason is, with North.
Brian Johnson 0:13:38
American Properties and Charlie Johnson interest rates and borrowing money. But yes, that side of the road was an out parcel to North Americans Forum redevelopment.
Rico Figliolini 0:13:52
Brian Johnson 0:13:52
And so they changed or that deal fell through.
Rico Figliolini 0:13:58
And so now there’s a new buyer. And I heard that it was going to close. And you just confirmed before we got on that it closed. So who’s the new buyer? Tell us. A little bit because there will be apartments there. I mean, that’s what it’s zoned for. So it’s not like it’s a question anymore.
Brian Johnson 0:14:15
That’s correct. And they’re going to be building what is materially. The same thing that was the same renderings that were presented to council. There’s some subtle tweaks to the exterior, but generally that product, and it’s a residential developer named Or Pappas. And so that’s who closed on the property. And so they are going to construct those units as presented to council during the entire North American property application.
Rico Figliolini 0:14:52
Now, most people don’t know that business, but they own is it Solas? Solis.
Brian Johnson 0:15:00
Yes. Correct, Solis.
Rico Figliolini 0:15:02
And that’s what type of apartment is it? Solace Apartments, I guess. I know there’s one in Sugar Hill that’s an active apartment community.
Brian Johnson 0:15:12
It says they’ve got property on Swanee Town Center.
Rico Figliolini 0:15:16
Swanee Town center, right?
Brian Johnson 0:15:18
They’ve got property up Brian Johnson Creek that they’ve developed. So this is what they do. They’re a quality developer. We were pleased on who it was sold to.
Rico Figliolini 0:15:29
Yeah, I’ve seen some of the Solace properties are very nice properties, very sort of luxury driven a bit.
Brian Johnson 0:15:35
Yes, it’s a higher end building. And this is structured parking, as you know, pedestal parking, where your parking deck is underneath the units. And yeah, so again, we were pleased that who was sold to and they’ve met with us. And their intent is to start site work late this year.
Rico Figliolini 0:16:00
Oh, really? Okay. So they’re going to start doing work. And so the property that’s by north of the wine store, corner Wine and Spirit, that’s a different property. But they’ve been out of the ground. They’re already selling at this point, I think it’s been about, what, a year maybe, that’s been built. Yeah. Broadstone at Peachtree corners. So they have a beautiful website and they’ve been already doing pre sales on it. And to some degree it has almost the same look, I think, as Solace Properties does to a degree. But I remember the renderings, I guess that were put out for that. So I’m going to probably put that in the show notes for those that are listening because I think there were some renderings on there.
Brian Johnson 0:16:47
You can pull the application for North American property, the rezoning application and the renderings for that side of the road are going to be generally, I mean, again, the toilet where I do know that they’re lightening up the colors a little bit dark. And I think that there, again, might be very subtle tweaks, but there are no material changes. So I think that would be fair to put that out because it has to be in material compliant or general compliance with that rendering and also with.
Rico Figliolini 0:17:23
The conditions on it. If I remember correctly, there was individually wired units. There was a bunch of things in there like that.
Brian Johnson 0:17:30
That’s correct. EV charging stations. They also have to connection across the creek.
Rico Figliolini 0:17:37
Brian Johnson 0:17:38
Okay, walk directly across the creek from the property and not have to go out to the sidewalk on 141 and walk up.
Rico Figliolini 0:17:47
So that could be out of the ground really in a year and a half to two years.
Brian Johnson 0:17:51
Yeah. Look, right now they’re starting the architectural actual construction document design of the building because they don’t need to go back to the conceptual stuff.
Rico Figliolini 0:18:04
Brian Johnson 0:18:04
So, yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if nine to twelve months, they’re going vertical, which is pretty quick from not having gone through rezoning or whatever. So, I mean, site work in November or December is fast. Yeah.
Rico Figliolini 0:18:24
Cool. So, yeah, people should be aware of that. That 260 plus units and doesn’t need any rezoning or anything. But this company is a good company from the properties that people can see around, like in Sawani or Sugar Hill in these places. Will that have retail also I forget now if that had any retail space on there. So it’s strictly apartments. Cool. Now I passed by the Forum every once in a while. I’ll go through there at least once a week and stuff. They’re already vertical with two story framework, metal framework for what we call the jewel boxes that they’re going to have there. And they’ve already announced that they’re going to have a food hall by Palatan Row, I believe, which should be great. I’ve seen some of the stuff they’ve had at Colony Square. It’s all good. Chef driven brewery, also centered around a brewery area within that. So they’re moving along, but we don’t see anything else coming there besides that north end piece right now through until next year, I guess.
Rico Figliolini 0:19:34
Have they suggested to you that they’re going to break down on anything else? The beginning of right, sure, but other.
Brian Johnson 0:19:42
Than that, the next thing would be sometime late summer. Well, we’re kind of late summer, fall sometime they’re going to probably break ground on the parking deck, which is that behind Belts, behind Belk. And that will be the next project, because they can’t remove any more of the middle parking stalls until the new parking deck is built, because then they would be below the parking threshold that they need to properly service the property. So the next thing would be the parking deck, which would run into say, summer of next year. And at that point then they could transition back into removing the middle parking stalls and continuing down towards the small event area that they’ll build right in front of Belk.
Rico Figliolini 0:20:37
Okay. All right, cool. Sounds like they’re on track to do everything that they said they would be doing. All right, so why don’t we also segue a little bit into well, it’s not segue, really, but the city marshal system is moving along. We’ve talked about it several times over several podcasts and of course we want to set expectations because you just don’t stand up a city marshal without regulations, without equipment, without office space, without officers without a chief of police, if you will. So there’s a lot still going on. I had thought, even myself, I had thought maybe the end of July that we would see marshals on the street, but that’s not really the case. Things take time. So tell us a little bit where the city is at right now with us.
Brian Johnson 0:21:24
And I appreciate you bringing that up, because for those who may have seen read, watch city council meeting, we have to go through a series of steps within what state law requires as a city for us to stand up a public safety component unit of the city. And so we had to adopt an ordinance and creating the department it’s created. And we have two of the three positions that we have funded this year have been filled. But for those who have seen that, like you said, to manage expectations, I don’t want there to be anybody who thinks or is expecting to see them out. Really just all over the community doing all sorts of things right away. It’s important to remember two things. One City Marshal Department is a supplement to Gwinnett County Police Department. It is not to replace I mean, we as residents of Petrie Corners are paying for Gwinnett County police because Gwinnett County is allowed to charge the police millage rate inside our city limits to fund the police department of the police officers out of west precinct that provide police coverage. We are not changing that. And we have every intention at the city to continue to expect to get services because we’re paying for them. But as you and I have talked about Rico, there’s gaps, and that’s where the marshals are now. So that’s one thing is reminding everybody that the other one know we have to stand up and go through all the policy intergovernmental processes that any brand new law enforcement agency would have to go through. Because these marshals are post certified sworn marshals, which means an example would be they have the authority to take away somebody’s civil liberties. If you commit a prime and they detain you. Well, to do that, you’ve got to have a policy on use of force.
Brian Johnson 0:23:43
What’s the escalation of force and when can you use it and when can you not? Just one example of many policies that have to be adopted. Body cam. Are we going to require it or what’s the policy on when it’s turned on and off? How long are we going to store the data, things like that. Are they going to have a role in or what’s their role in interacting with the community? Are they going to be our primary points of contact with HOAs, things like that. We’ve got to get them fitted for uniforms, order the equipment, the vehicles, get the vehicles wrapped. I could go on and on.
Rico Figliolini 0:24:28
And so there’s a list of things, I mean, even access to. There’s all the cameras we have around the city. Do you give them access to that? How is this going to work?
Brian Johnson 0:24:41
So it is a process, but even at the end of the process, again, I can’t beat that dead horse enough. This is to supplement. This is to be a force multiplier to Gwinnett PD. Gwynette PD is still our primary police department. The marshals are not going to be responding to 911 calls.
Rico Figliolini 0:25:02
Brian Johnson 0:25:02
That’s still Gwynette PD, those kind of things. But we’ve got intergovernmental agreements that we’re going to have to enter into with or amend existing ones like Gwynette PD or the sheriff’s office and things like, you know, we’re getting there. We’re getting there to where these assets can really know, kind know, vectored to areas that know, spring up and could use a little bit of extra assistance to what? FPD. But we’re not there yet. And so we’ve got to do this very carefully because this kind of stuff is you can get into trouble if you don’t do it. Right. Expectation management, as you said.
Rico Figliolini 0:25:47
Right. So setting those expectations, when do you think they have any estimate of when the first cars may be out on the street? Will it be the end of the year?
Brian Johnson 0:25:57
Yeah, I would say by the end of the calendar year. You’re going to start seeing the cars out in a little bit more. Six months from now is probably a good time. We’ll have the chief marshals position filled by then. That job announcement is going to go out probably tomorrow.
Rico Figliolini 0:26:16
Brian Johnson 0:26:20
I think by the end of this calendar year is fair. There may be a little few areas that they’re not quite involved in for another period of time into next year. Because mind you, as a supplement, they’re going to be in areas that Gwynette PD isn’t really very active in. For instance, use of drones in problem areas when FPD has too many constraints that have the resources to be able to do it. Ours will. Interesting, our marshals will be using drones as a supplement when there are situations where it makes sense. And in addition to that is as a location for there to be some innovative use of drones in the public safety space. Because of our partnerships with Curiosity Lab and the infrastructure have in place, including the our recent meetings with their regulatory team in DC. They’re very interested in using our marshals or collecting data our marshals will generate on some of the innovative ways to use it as they write regulations around the use of drones for public. So we might be helping write policy here just because we’re going to be more flexible and department as big as Gwinnett is, they just don’t have the same opportunities that we will with us being smaller.
Rico Figliolini 0:28:01
Well, for sure. And having Curiosity Lab here and the ability to partner with different companies to do cutting edge work in public safety is just enormous. Very exciting to be able to get down that and to be able to provide that sense of safety and security to a community and to be able to see how far we could go with that cutting edge technology. So the other thing that there’s always a lot of things going on here. One of the largest, I guess the largest current largest employer, Siemens, has finally come into partnership with the city eastward corners. We’ve talked about that a bit before. So tell us a little bit about what that means to have, at least at this point, the largest employer, Intuitive Robotics, will be once they’ve completed. But Siemens being now being a partner, what does that mean? What does that do for the city?
Brian Johnson 0:28:59
Well, when you have an employer that’s approaching 1000 employees within your city that is a major player in the technology space, whether it’s facility technology, electric and Emobility technology, they’re all over. They’ve got a lot of fingers in tech and they’re North American headquarters for, well, people don’t know they’re a German based company, german headquartered company, International. But their North American headquarters for their facility technology, their smart facility technology, is here in Peachtree Corners and their worldwide headquarters for electric mobility is here in Peachtree Corners.
Rico Figliolini 0:29:47
Brian Johnson 0:29:48
And it’s always been a little bit, I guess you could say, embarrassing that our largest employer was not a partner with us, the Curiosity Lab. And it’s a matter of navigating the labyrinth of international companies and where decisions are made and things like that. But we finally ended up getting opportunities to see the value each could provide the other. And so now they have some of their new innovative EV charging stations both here in the city for use by customers. But also they’re going to have a significant play in the EV multimodal expansion that we have here at park, that we’re finally coming to a point where we can start construction. That was the half a million dollar grant that former US. Representative Carolyn Bordeaux got for us to build this multimodal center. And so it’s going to have all things EV coming together at one location. And Siemens will have a significant play in the development of that site for them to test and enhance some of their technology. So we’re mean, in the course of what, two months. It’s our second German based international company that we have a partnership with after Audi. So yeah, good.
Rico Figliolini 0:31:17
I mean, anyone that follows the city or Curiosity Lab on LinkedIn can see all these posts about companies coming here, even us going to countries like Israel and other countries that we’ve been to. So a lot of international businesses are just seeming to find the little city of Peachtree Corners, which isn’t so little anymore, really. Right?
Brian Johnson 0:31:42
Well, we’re certainly punching above our weight class, but yeah, we’re a soft landing pad for international companies. And guess what? Some of those, when they land here, we actually convince them to stay here.
Rico Figliolini 0:31:57
And there’s your economic development so it’s paying off and I think the city is also continuing to look at other avenues. I mean obviously this is smart technology, this is good high end stuff but we’re also doing smaller things that is going to know an economic impact but also good things for the community. Like just recently the Atlanta Sci-fi Film Festival decided with the city as a sponsor to be able to come out here and instead of doing it in the city of Atlanta, the Atlanta Sci-fi Film Festival is going to be hosted here in, you know, nice decent festival and very different from what we normally might see here. So it’s good to see that type of stuff happening and I’m sure there’s other things along the way that we haven’t even know about yet so can’t wait to see. But I do appreciate you coming through with all this information Brian and helping.
Brian Johnson 0:32:53
Always a pleasure Rico, thanks for helping keep our citizens informed.
Rico Figliolini 0:32:58
Yes. Appreciate you being here. Thanks Brian and everyone else that’s listening. Appreciate you joining us. If you have any comments or you want to hear other subjects that we should be talking about let us know. At some point. I’d love to be able to do this a bit more live. This is a simulcast live feed. You may be seeing this on or you may be seeing this on demand but at some point we may be doing a live feed question and answers or submitted questions ahead of time or maybe live. As we’re doing this, I’m still trying to figure out the logistics on that and how we’re going to do it. Twitter or X, who knows where it might be that we might do this. Maybe it’s Instagram Live. Maybe it’s Facebook Live. We’ll take comments and Brian is more than willing to answer those or if he can’t let us know. So we’re looking forward to doing some of that. So thanks again for being with us and catch us in the magazine that’s going to be coming out shortly. Peachtree Corners magazine will hit in about a week actually next Tuesday it’s hitting the post office so you’ll see the latest issue coming out. Thanks everyone.
On topic with Alex Wright: Ingles Shopping Center, Tech Park Acquisition, Public Safety and More
City Councilman Alex Wright and I discuss a proposal from the owners of the Ingles Shopping Center for redevelopment and other housing developments in Peachtree Corners. Plus, we discuss a new Tech Park acquisition for the city, public safety, the new City Marshal system, a possible Pickleball Complex and its economic impact, and more.
[00:00:30] – Intro
[00:04:06] – Closure of Anderby Brewing
[00:05:56] – The Pickleball Complex and its Economic Impact
[00:09:13] – Ingles Shopping Center and Housing Developments
[00:26:07] – More on Zoning and Developments
[00:31:24] – City Marshal System and the Hiring Process
[00:45:30] – October Decathlon Event
[00:48:37] – Closing
Rico Figliolini 0:00:00
Hi everyone. This is Rico Figliolini, host of Peachtree Corners Life, a monthly podcast with different people, different individuals that influence the things that go on in this city. And today we have a special guest, City Councilman post three, Alex Wright. Hey Alex, thanks for joining us.
Alex Wright 0:00:17
Thanks for having me. It’s good to be back.
Rico Figliolini 0:00:19
Yes, it’s always good to be able to talk to people that know what’s going on because I don’t know everything and to get it from those that are plugged in would be fantastic. But before we get into today’s question and answer and things that are going on I’d like to ask you about, I just want to say thank you to our sponsors. We have two. EV Remodeling Inc. and Eli, who owns that company, and lives here in Peachtree Corners. They are a terrific company that does design and build from ground up remodeling, whether it’s your bathroom or your whole house. EV Remodeling does a great job and they’re local to Peachtree Corners and they’ve been a great sponsor of ours. If you go to their website, EvRemodelingInc.com, you’ll see some great work that he’s done, some videos. You’ll get to know a little bit more about Eli and the work they do and check them out because remodeling is their business. Second is a new sponsor of our corporate sponsor and that’s Clearwave Fiber. They’ve joined us over the last month or two becoming a good supporter of ours, our journalism, our podcast, they are here in Peachtree Corners throughout the state of Georgia, really, and the Southeast. But they’re really big here in the city of Peachtree Corners with more than 5000 businesses that they do work with right here in the city of Peachtree Corners, providing services, launching the fiber optic setup that they have. And they’ve been a clear supporter of the City, of Curiosity Lab, of the recent Criterion Road race that was happening here and they’ve been a good strong supporter of what goes on in the city and a good sponsor. So I want to welcome them. You can find the link in our profile to Clearwave Fiber for the Peachtree Corners Life. So check them out and see what they can do for you, whether you’re a business or even a resident. So check that out. So let’s get right onto it. It’s amazing the things going on in this city and the stuff that I don’t always know about because I don’t know everything. Even though we publish Peachtree Corners magazine, we do these podcasts. But Alex is on here because specifically because I subscribe to his newsletter that he puts out every so often and there’s things in there that Alex has brought up and I just want to know more about. So thank you Alex, for putting out that newsletter to your list of residents and people that follow you. I want to say thanks for doing it.
Alex Wright 0:02:49
It’s definitely a good way to stay in touch with people. Obviously you can reach out to a lot of people at once versus being on the ground. That’s not always the most efficient way to communicate.
Rico Figliolini 0:03:03
No, but doing that and quite frankly, even have life podcasts like this and articles that we put out. I mean, all this stuff that we put out, the content that we put out comes from knowing what’s going on in the city, whether it’s from Brian Johnson, the city manager, or Mike Mason, the mayor, or you or Eric Chris or any of the other councilmen, the great people that work for the city Peachtree Corners as well. So got to say that. So there’s a lot of things going on, and I know you plugged into quite a bit of it because of your position. So I guess let’s start right off. Well, first things first. I hadn’t acknowledged this before as far as and to Be brewing, unfortunately, they’re closing their doors. Actually. They’ve closed their doors as of the weekend of July 4, set to see them go and close up shop like that. I think they may be doing things in the business and the industry still, but and to Be brewing is is no longer a place, I understand. How do you feel about when things like that happen? They were one of two brewers in the city.
Alex Wright 0:04:06
Yes. I’m kind of a risk averse person to a certain extent myself, so I’m always impressed when people are willing to kind of follow their dream like that and put so much at risk to do that. It’s kind of inspiring in a way. So you hate to see it when it doesn’t work out, though. I was over there actually the day closed, talking to one of the owners, and she was telling me that they’re going to continue to be in the, I guess the brand business, if you will, where I think outsourcing some of the brewing of their brands. So they’re still going to be around in that regard. And she said that might lead to depending on how successful that is, just to stay in that route. So you alluded they’re not going. It’s just that bricks and mortar location unfortunately won’t be available anymore.
Rico Figliolini 0:04:57
Yeah. Too bad because they’ve been around for, I think it’s been four years.
Alex Wright 0:05:02
Yeah. I think they went in there right before COVID and obviously that wasn’t part of their business plan. I think they were counting on a lot more office workers right there in Tech Park stopping by.
Rico Figliolini 0:05:15
Yeah. And that blew it during COVID But they sounded like they were coming back at a point. But I guess once you go through that, sometimes it’s never coming back. That was a whole year and a half and they thought they were coming back. There was March 2020 when everything looked life. It was coming back. And then all of a sudden things shut down again, like three months later.
Alex Wright 0:05:37
Yeah. Every time I would drive by there. It seemed like they had a good, decent round. So I I don’t know the details, but it’s I’m not a big beer drinker, but I did like going there just for the I was talking about newsletter. Just had kind of a fun vibe. You could bring your dog or kids. It’s just very welcoming place.
Rico Figliolini 0:05:56
Yeah, no, the owner is precedent. His wife and the other people that worked there very passionate about what they do. I mean, he was doing stuff in his kitchen before he got to the brewery, so it wasn’t like he just decided to do it. He was passionate and still is, I think, with what he’s doing. So the other thing that we’re talking about, business is closing, businesses opening. Maybe there’s been a feasibility study that may be finished by this point or not. I don’t know about a potential pickable complex. Private public partnership, possibly maybe 30, 40, 50 courts. So there’s a company that was hard to do that feasibility study. I think I was at one of several meetings, stakeholders or shareholders, I guess, to give feedback or to give their point of view on it. So have you learned anything more or do you have a thing you want to talk about as far as how you feel about it?
Alex Wright 0:06:50
Nothing really new since that meeting that you’re talking about. I think we actually both were that one.
Rico Figliolini 0:06:55
Alex Wright 0:06:57
So still waiting to hear back from that company, though I’m obviously very interested in the money part of it, but I suspect there’s a lot of, whether it be cities or companies or whoever, thinking just like we are, like, hey, this is a huge opportunity. And I’ve used the analogy of 25 years ago, search engines, there’s so many of them. And Google basically won that. Now it’s a verb, but you got to get there first and kind of establish your dominance, if you will. It’s the kind of way I’m thinking about this, where if we wait a couple of years to see what happens, someone else is going to. When I say get in there, I think what we’re looking at is not just say, let’s have ten public pickleball courts. I guess that’s an option. It’s more of an economic redevelopment opportunity in maybe an area that I mentioned my newsletter, like down Holcomb Bridge, where because it’s got a good if you think about that intersection, Holcomb Bridge, and say, 141, that’s only four, actually, probably about 4 miles to 285. So good access to the interstate. Wright but if you built a complex there, I think Brian’s probably mentioned this on one of your podcasts, where the ability to host big tournaments, you can bring a lot of people into town for that. I don’t think we’re just envisioning just pickleball ball courts, but something where it’s a destination unto itself, almost, where you’ve got locals going there, whether they’re playing or not, just to hang out. So you’ve got your local crowd that be there all the time and then layer on top of that the tournament aspect, that could bring in a lot of activity for the city, hotel rooms and restaurants and things like that. So my thought is if the numbers look good, you got to move quick because someone else is going to move quick as well. So the quick you get in there, you’ll get the word out, hey, we’re almost like a dog mark in this territory. Like, hey, we’re here, and other people will say maybe just move on. We don’t want to cannibalize.
Rico Figliolini 0:09:13
I think you have to if you’re going to go in, go in big the expression, I guess, yeah. I think part of that discussion was obviously private public partnership versus the city running it. City doesn’t want to have a parks department or anything where they’re going to do ten pickable courts and have to maintain it. Right. And if it’s going to be a pickable complex or center, it’s really maybe an entertainment complex that has pickleball restaurants, maybe playgrounds, maybe certain other amenities that draw besides the pickleball. I would think Wright or something along those lines.
Alex Wright 0:09:51
Yeah, that whole Holcomb Bridge corridor, if you will. Literally almost from day one, the city has tried all kind of different things to get, I say redevelopment, some kind of I always use the example of over. I used to work, I still work over in Cobb County, but worked near Franklin Road, which street of kind of dilapidated apartments. Marietta came in, bought several of those up, tore them down and they said, hey, here’s some dirt, come in, try to attract come in. They got landing. United’s Training Facility there. Home Depot did a big data center there. The reason I mentioned that is you really just need say one thing to come in, make a big splash and it can create redevelopment. I mean we’re already seeing that, like with the town center where areas around that they want to be near that. I use the analogy or the metaphor of an anchor, people want to be near it. And we’ve had several different things that just didn’t come to fruition, unfortunately in that area. But kind of the way I look at this is we inject some of the money deal, but to your point, we’re not owning it, we’re not running it, but if it’s enough to make the numbers work for a private company, then ultimately the ripple effect more than pays for the money we would inject into it.
Rico Figliolini 0:11:15
It’s similar to, I guess, the town center when that first happened. I mean the city bought property there and then eventually sold it to the developer that developed the property there. And I guess we own certain portions like the parking deck and the town center, but the surrounding part of that town center versus the green and the veterans monument probably.
Alex Wright 0:11:35
Yeah. So that land originally was 21 acres, we ultimately ended up with eight. And the reason that kind of worked out that way was the developer to kind of make their numbers work, they wanted to build apartments. And for that particular piece of land, we had just bought it to stop apartments. It was like, okay, that doesn’t really make any sense. So to make the numbers work, we said, well, we’ll keep these eight acres and do these other things with it. So that’s an example of they need to show a return on their investment. The city doesn’t have to do that. So those eight acres, we can say, well, three years, we’re going to have an ROI that pays for that. But I would argue that by basically putting that money out there to hold that property, to build the green, which the developer didn’t even want to build because he couldn’t monetize it without the green, that was just another kind of almost a shopping center. The Green is really the difference maker there. And so that’s the difference what government can do. They can invest money and they don’t have to have a private equity firm that’s breathing down their neck to pay. Where’s our 22% annual return, right?
Rico Figliolini 0:12:40
Especially when it’s a developer that’s just a retail developer that has no interest in managing really the place. I mean, I understand Fuqua Development probably wants to sell most of what they have already. It’s just they don’t want to be a mold developer, right. Or retail developer like that. They want to flip it. So that worked out great. I mean, we get we there are concerts there with 5000 people showing up. There’s all sorts of events that go on. I know that at the beginning, some people were vocal about why is the city doing it? Why are they spending money, why are they buying that land? But to me it was similar to life. The Simpson Wood Park. Why did the city put up a million dollars to help that purchase or get involved in it? Well, that was also going to be sold to apartment developers, or to developers, I should say, because I don’t know if apartments would ever have been able to be zoned there. But it’s still a park because the county came in and bought it and is managing it versus the city being having a parks department and doing it. So there’s potential out there. And then you have North American properties right, that bought the Forum and they’re committed to it. They’re willing to put green space. They’re willing to put a stage in there. They’re willing to do things similar to Avalon. And I know there’s always another side to that. People don’t want that type of density coming or that type of traffic coming. But you know as well as I do, the Forum was heading south with almost 17 vacant storefronts. At one point, you were part of the group that decided that that made sense North American Properties being there. Right.
Alex Wright 0:14:23
The purchase of that, someone definitely needed to buy the forum. The previous owner, I think, was a REIT out of Boston. We had approached them about this green idea in the middle and even said, we’ll help fund that because we were so worried about the Forum and they had no interest, which I found baffling was like, we’re offering to literally almost give you money and you don’t want it. So someone that sat incompetently run it’s good that North American Properties bought the property. There are aspects of vision that I’m not crazy about, but as a whole, one of the things I did like about North American Properties was unlike most of the other developers that we’ve interacted with, mr. Perry definitely had a vision beyond just their little piece of property that this whole downtown Peachtree Corners life idea had. I liked that because I agree that there’s some synergies between the two properties and he got that that these other folks were just looking for that return every quarter. So NetNet it’s definitely good that they ended up with the property.
Rico Figliolini 0:15:34
So talking about also that whole area, Alex, I think that whole area, I think, has an overlay. That’s an entertainment overlay, if I remember correctly, right, that includes the Forum, includes town center, then goes into where Lidl is and also includes the Ingle shopping center, that whole part there, which is what we are calling the downtown area, essentially. Correct. So to that effect, there’s other things going on. For example, ingle shopping center. At one point, Ingles came in, they wanted to see if they can do gas pumps there, similar to, let’s say, Costco’s or Kroger’s. That was denied probably for a variety of reasons. But now the owner of that shopping center, not just Ingles, but everything that’s in it, has approached the city, I guess. Tell me a little bit about what’s going on there, what they’re looking to do.
Alex Wright 0:16:26
Wright so just back up just a second. Sure. They have developers that will approach the city kind of a regular basis, all kind of stuff. For example, a lot of the office parks near the town center, we’ve had people approach and say, hey, we’re interested in doing some kind of mixed use because they want to be near the town so much, the town center as the town green. They want to be near the activity there because people life, I think people naturally like to gather and be part of what’s going on. So it just happened to be that in the case of Ingles, that the council was given a briefing about this. And it’s not so much that the staff is saying, well, we’re not going to tell the council about this and we’re going to tell them about this. It’s just there’s so many that they try to be prudent about, okay, we think this one is serious enough to loop you in on some conversations. And so basically the update was Ingles lease apparently is coming up the next year or so. The owner kind of looked at the situation, said, all right, well, we obviously don’t want to lose Ingles. But Ingles was telling them is we’d like a smaller footprint. Apparently that’s the thing now in new grocery stores is a smaller footprint, more like a sprouts size. So they were looking to not so much leave, but shrink their footprint. So I think the owner looked at this as an opportunity. We’re looking to better monetize this property. We see what’s going on at the forum with the redevelopment. We see the town center. They probably hear about some of the other things behind the scenes that are potentially on the horizon. And they wanted to approach this. What they did, they approached the city and said a lot of times the way this will work is they’ll say, we’ve got this kind of rough idea of what we might want to do. Do you think that the council would be open to that? Obviously the staff has no idea the council is going to vote on anything, but normally have a good pulse of life. I might have a certain view of how I want things to be in five years and some of my colleagues different view and good staff is going to going to know that. And so that helps to be able to tell a potential developer, hey, we don’t know exactly what will happen, but this is kind of the sense we have and it helps them determine whether to move forward with a proposal anyway, kind of the pitch, if you will, that they put out. There was, again, another mixed use development which would include a housing component. But one of the things that made this different than some of the other ones we’ve seen is it included a senior living component. And at least it’s just my opinion, but we are in really short supply of that. I know we’ve got Waterside, which is coming online, but I hear a lot of people say it’s more than I want to pay and I’d rather live near things I could walk to. What a lot of people I know we spend a lot of time trying to attract young professionals. But if you follow demographics, the United States had a below replacement birth rate for almost 50 years. It’s kind of been masked by immigration, but you’re seeing this happen all across the world. So the point, point of my story is that in absolute numbers, there’s less 18 year olds today than there were ten years ago, 20 years ago. But the number of people that are 65 and older continues to go up. So we really need to give that some attention as well. We want places for those folks to stay versus having to leave Peachtree Corners. So when I heard that, I was very interested in that proposal because I think we’ve got a big housing shortage in that area. And I think we’ve got a big housing shortage for people, younger people who want to own versus just rent. Most people, if they’re 28, they’re not going to move into a $500,000 house. That’s just difficult.
Rico Figliolini 0:20:29
I think you had said active living community.
Alex Wright 0:20:33
Yeah. So this isn’t like at least my interpretation of it wasn’t assisted living or memory care. Like what you’re talking about active people, maybe they’re 55 and they want to move out of their 5000 square foot home into something smaller, which I know Waterside has got that as well. But they’ve got more some other stages as well. I don’t think this included that is significant housing piece that was the grocery store would stay but shrink the retail. So all the retail, the grocery store, it would move up closer to 141 and then the housing and maybe some other things could go further back. So you ultimately would take some of that cement that’s unused right now and put it to good use. When I say good use, they’re going to be able to monetize it. So it’s a win for them.
Rico Figliolini 0:21:29
I think they had a rendering you shared in your newsletter.
Alex Wright 0:21:32
Yes, there was actually several renderings. That one was just one of probably like four or five. We saw different kind of combinations of things.
Rico Figliolini 0:21:42
Alex Wright 0:21:43
The other ones were a little more like drawings, more so this one looked more appealing to the eye, I guess to illustrate what is possible.
Rico Figliolini 0:21:52
I was looking to see if I could put that up. What I’ll do is I’ll include that in our notes, show notes, so people can see that what that picture looks like. And actually we have a writer that’s doing some work on this. I think she interviewed you already. Or we’ll be reaching out to you.
Alex Wright 0:22:08
Yeah, I talked to her earlier, either earlier this week or late last week we had spoken. Right.
Rico Figliolini 0:22:14
So we’ll have a bit of an article on that with the picture. Certainly I would think I would hope also with something life that that maybe there’s a possibility at looking actually even looking at the rendering right now is CVS and Dunkin Donuts. Those are not out parcels or are they to that process?
Alex Wright 0:22:34
Those two parcels are not owned by the guy who owns the company that owns the shopping center.
Rico Figliolini 0:22:40
Got you. Okay. So those are ad parcels along with the former McDonald’s property that’s on the other side.
Alex Wright 0:22:46
That’s correct. And also the daycare center is also separate.
Rico Figliolini 0:22:52
So it’s just everything other than that the parking lot and then that strip around Ingles and all the shops along that park. Correct. Is what we’re talking about. Okay. Hoping there might be equity type housing. There life condos, but versus granted it’s active living apartments, but versus another set.
Alex Wright 0:23:15
Of apartments, I got the impression that you never know what someone’s going to propose but that they understood that, hey, there’s been a lot of apartments approved recently that we’re looking for some balance. So I think that was communicated as well, that we prefer at this point an equity product. I’m not retirement age, but if I was, if I was going to downsize maybe I’m an apartment briefly, but probably want to own something or at least have that opportunity. Because I talked to the city manager sometime about this, where if you’re trying to create activity, whether it be at the forum or the town center, I mean, who better to have than an active, retired person who’s got plenty of time on their hands and probably a lot of disposable income to give that kind of all day activity that places want to have where they’re from nine in the morning till ten at night. There’s people moving around. I think the trick with the ingles is how do you transport people around where they’re not having to constantly get in their car? You know, that’s something, I mean, listen.
Rico Figliolini 0:24:29
Lawrenceville is city of Lawrenceville is doing something downtown that they’re looking to be able to provide, like a walkable supermarket in the downtown area versus having to drive to a huge place where there’s a Walmart or a publix. Just having a local neighborhood grocer like you said, life the size of Sprouts or something much smaller.
Alex Wright 0:24:50
Well, those, the people that live in the town homes over at the Town Center, if you think about they can walk to a grocery store. I think there’s a dentist at form. They’re ready to walk across those doctor’s office. They could just about walk to anything they wanted to. So there’s some of that vibe already going on that’s very convenient to just you don’t have to hop in your car, right?
Rico Figliolini 0:25:14
So getting onto that more, of course there’s the flip sides of these things, right? The more density, people don’t want more density, more traffic. There’s already a bunch of traffic going up John’s Creek, never mind trying to get into Peachtree Corners. Life but the next development is what some people call Charlie Roberts property, which is, I think you called it the dirt hole behind Chase. That’s that empty lot that everyone sees if they’ve ever been to Chase or look at HWD Steakhouse that’s looking to hire, by the way, if anyone’s interested. And that’s right near Town Center. I mean, that’s all in the ground. And I think that is definitely zoned for apartments at this point because it’s part of that multi use track now. And they could go up seven stories, I think, or six stories or something like that. So tell us what’s going on there because that sounds like there’s a movement.
Alex Wright 0:26:07
At least going sounds life that property, mr. Roberts has owned it for I guess, 20 plus years and probably about 2016 he approached the city about getting it zoned from, I think it was commercial. He wanted to get it changed to apartments anyway. That was a big discussion, and the compromise was you can have some apartments, but it’s got to be connected to kind of like a boutique hotel. It was all going to be kind of the same building. And the zoning, he had four years to basically start coming out of the ground, and if he didn’t, the zoning would revert back to commercial. And so I think within like a year or so, he had gotten a hotel brand to go in.
Rico Figliolini 0:26:56
Indigo. I think it was the indigo.
Alex Wright 0:26:59
And shortly thereafter, the world flipped upside down with COVID and no one’s staying in hotels. And that blew his plan up, no fault of his. And by the time the four years came, he wasn’t able to pull that off. So it reverted back to commercial. And I don’t know all the details behind the scenes, but some time goes by, north American comes into the picture as part of their Peachtree Corners Life downtown idea. They also looked at that property as part of that larger development of how do we create activity feet on the ground. So it got rezoned from commercial to apartments. Now, Mr. Roberts company is the one that got the rezoning. Even though that night at the meeting north American if you didn’t really know what was going on, you would have thought that they were the one getting the rezoning, which kind of made sense because their plan was as soon as it got rezoned, they would buy it and it would be part of their plan.
Rico Figliolini 0:28:00
So that rezoning was never done on condition of the purchase. That was rezoned, period.
Alex Wright 0:28:06
Right. There was no time limit. There was no conditions anyway. So get the Rezoning plans to sell it to North American, and then interest rates start to go up on everybody, and it starts to make the financing problematic is my understanding, which I think that’s case for all of us, our own personal finances or stuff’s costing more now, whether it be inflation or interest rates. Anyway, so North American, they basically didn’t have the money lined up or the numbers didn’t make sense at this point because of those two things. And so that deal fell through. So then I suspect at least what we were hearing kind of behind the scenes was Mr. Roberts was floating it around to other potential buyers and kind of heard through the Great Vine recently that he had found a buyer. I don’t have the name in front of me.
Rico Figliolini 0:28:57
I think it’s Tur. Villager Papas.
Alex Wright 0:29:01
Yeah, I’m not familiar with the company, but I heard from various sources that deal would close at the end of July. And if you kind of been paying attention over the last few months that I call it the Dirt hole, it went from having huge mounds of rocks and debris in it to totally cleaned off, ready to build. So obviously there was stuff going. On behind the scenes. And now when it closes, I suspect that will move pretty quick because the zoning is already there. All they have to do now is get building permits from the city.
Rico Figliolini 0:29:37
Alex Wright 0:29:38
Probably I don’t know how long that takes, but suspect that if I bought a piece of property, I’d want to get it to use as quickly as possible. They get the buildings built the quicker the money comes in.
Rico Figliolini 0:29:50
So I think if anyone wants to know what type of properties they do if you go if you search Sola, S-O-L-I-S Suwani, you’ll see the type of apartments they do. They’re all over the southeast. The biggest things is they have probably about 15 communities either planned or in place in Georgia. Swani, Sugar Hill, Decatur, kennesaw, Dumwoody, Dunwood, Gainesville. Bunch of places, I think. Sugar Hill 294 class A apartment with 12,000ft of retail and restaurants. I don’t know if they’re looking to do if that ever came up in that conversation either, but that’s in Sugar Hills Town Center. So they’re doing stuff in these places. All right, so then we’ll find out, I guess towards the end of the month, if they close on that.
Alex Wright 0:30:42
Yeah, like I said, that was all just I think these are pretty good sources that have been talking about this.
Rico Figliolini 0:30:49
And I think that was zoned. Not only was that enveloped or taken into the multi use track of what Town Center is right. I think it was included into that. And they’re zones for similar unit count, probably 200. And if I remember right, 200 and 7280 apartments.
Alex Wright 0:31:06
Yeah, something in the mid upper 200s.
Rico Figliolini 0:31:08
Right. Okay. Either way, that would have been there whether it was North American properties or a new developer.
Alex Wright 0:31:16
Yeah. Once they got that rezoning back in September, there’s going to be apartments eventually with somebody.
Rico Figliolini 0:31:24
Okay, cool. Let’s talk a little bit about I think the city Marshall system is going to be stood up the end of this month or the beginning of August is what I understand.
Alex Wright 0:31:35
So the new fiscal year began July 1, and that’s really the first year we had money budgeted for this. So there’ll be three officers. My understanding is two have already been interviewing. They’ve identified two. I don’t know if they’ve officially been hired, but they’ve got two that are been offered jobs, I guess you could say, got you. And then the third, which would be, I think the head person, will come on a little bit later this year. So then there’ll be three initially, right?
Rico Figliolini 0:32:11
Alex Wright 0:32:13
Rico Figliolini 0:32:13
I mean, they still have to work through. I think some of the original some of the preliminary stuff was done, like type of cars, equipment, some stuff. But there’s a lot going to this. Right. Office spaces.
Alex Wright 0:32:26
Yeah. So we’re going to obviously have to expand the footprint of the government. Some of that will be upstairs. City hall at the top level is private company rents from the city, which actually been a great deal for us because it’s basically been almost like a duplex. Right? They’re paying for the mortgage force. Yeah. And then we’re buying another building over near the old City Hall that’ll give us some additional capacity.
Rico Figliolini 0:32:55
That one’s across from Curiosity Lab. Right. That’s wright on the street side, I guess.
Alex Wright 0:33:01
That’s correct. And then on that whole kind of complex, if you will, those two buildings, a lot of flexibility.
Rico Figliolini 0:33:08
So there’ll be more on that as we get more details to segue into why, to some degree, this wasn’t necessarily why, but conversations I had with city manager information from before makes sense for us to have a city marshal system because they can do things that Gweneck County Police either weren’t able to or really not shouldn’t be tasked to. Like code enforcement maybe, and stuff like that. And to be able to, the city can sort of put their police force where they feel most necessary.
Alex Wright 0:33:42
Wright yeah, that’s all very accurate. The Gwinnett County Police, I think they’re budgeted for 930 officers, and I want to say they’re staffed right now in the upper six hundred s. And I don’t think that’s unique to Gwinnett County. There’s an issue across the nation with we could spend all day speculating on the why of that. But anyway, they’re not able to be fully staffed right now. So if you’re down, say, 30%, you just going to prioritize where you’re sending folks. Sure, we have an intergovernmental agreement with Gwinnett County. They provide our police services, but we don’t have any control over what they do. We can ask, hey, can you do this, can you do that? But they ultimately have to make decisions beyond what’s best for Peachtree Corners life because the west precinct is pretty large area. So it’s been a combination of the things you mentioned. One they’re just understaffed, and then they also have been directed by the legal department of Gwinnett County that if there are any ordinances in a city that are city specific, that they are not to enforce those. And an example of this, several years ago in a neighborhood here in Peachtree Corners, there was apparently a pretty big party going on really loud, and people nearby called when that county showed up and there was, I guess a city specific ordinance regarding I think it was the noise. I don’t know all the details. And basically the police officer said, this is a code enforcement issue I’m not allowed to involve. And so he left and then the party continued unabated. There was a lot of people upset about that. That’s just to illustrate an example of where think about it, if you’re having that party and you know the police aren’t going to do anything, some people it could easily spin out of control. So it’s not something you want to have happen. Again, that’s just anecdotal but it illustrates where those are two issues we’ve got. And I think a third part. We’ve had some things over the last couple of years, some of these intersection takeovers where people would get frustrated and in some instances, the police did a great job. They got there and arrested a ton of people. And then there’s some other instances where because of other commitments in the west precinct, they didn’t show up for quite a while because they just didn’t have the resources, the stuff to go to the residents and say, hey, there’s nothing we can do about it. They expect more. So I think some of what we’re doing is us trying to, in a measured way, respond to, okay, we are doing something, we’re creating resources that we can control. With these three marshals been at a stop at the intersection takeover? No. However, we’re showing that we get it, that people are frustrated. And I just got our crime from Gwinnett County just today, and it only goes through May. So this is an update from my newsletter, but the numbers through May for the first five months type one crimes, which are the more serious kind, up 60% year over year through April is only 39%. So maybe May is anomaly, I don’t know. But that’s not a good trend.
Rico Figliolini 0:37:05
That’s in the city proper and Peachtree Corners. Yes, those types of crimes include felonies, robbery, burglary.
Alex Wright 0:37:18
They could be property crimes as well, you know, breaking into a car or, you know, simple assault. But yeah, they’re definitely the more serious kind, the one that people that’s the stuff you read about on next door where someone’s window got smashed in or it’s the kind that really make people feel unsafe.
Rico Figliolini 0:37:37
Yes. And then obviously we won’t get into it. But then there’s the crimes unreported, like smash and grab, three or four people running into a store, taking what they please.
Alex Wright 0:37:49
Rico Figliolini 0:37:50
We could go through that and spend more time on it, but that’s okay. Yeah. Hopefully I understand we’ll be plugged into to some degree with Fusis maybe even. And we’re adding cameras, led cameras and stuff. Not Led, I mean LPRs, I think.
Alex Wright 0:38:07
We’Ve got to say 50 of the LPRs. Maybe it’s not that many. We’ve also got 82 cameras at the town center. Like literally almost every inch of that is covered. And I think the city manager said the forum is going to get in on the Fusis program. I have mixed feelings about the cameras because you’ve got the kind of the creeping Big Brother aspect, but then on the other hand, there’s a force multiplier. I don’t know if you saw the thing that was on an E a few days ago about there’s a show called 48 Hours. I don’t normally watch it, but it was about the young man who got murdered at the QT, I guess it was last year. And so this is like a national show. Very interesting because it went into the whole gist of the show is for crimes to be solved, you basically have to get on top of things within 48 hours because then things start to go cold. And so they had all of the characters from what happened with all the police officers, the families, they had video of these people being interviewed at the police headquarters. They showed how they tracked them down with the cameras and it was fascinating. So I would encourage we get done. I’ll shoot you the link, but it’s really interesting. But it showed the power of the cameras. That was the key for them tracking these guys down, using cooperating with other municipalities to track these cars down.
Rico Figliolini 0:39:34
Yeah, remember the I mean, I haven’t seen that. I’ll share that in the show notes as well. But I knew that they were able to track them down into Atlanta through cameras and other things and fuses with part of it. But that would be great to see that back behind the scenes stuff.
Alex Wright 0:39:50
It was very interesting because some of it was recreated, but they had all of the police officers that were involved in it kind of acting, if you will, recreating what went down. It was very well done.
Rico Figliolini 0:40:04
Wow, cool. I think within a decade, you can’t hide anymore. At some point, if you’re in the city causing crime, I mean, it’s going to be tough unless you have a bandana on your face or something, a mask. And even then, I think, from what I understand, from what Fusis is doing even, and the technology out there, that they can pretty much fingerprint a car based on dense colors. So you don’t even have to see the license plate anymore almost to be able to ID a car eventually using AI. And the way they track these things, especially the muscle cars and the stuff that the guys that do the spinning of the wheels of the street takeovers, I mean, they’re not doing it with cheap cars. They’re doing with these big cars, these really bulk down, pimped out cars and stuff. I’m sorry, that’s the Brooklyn and me, it just came out on that. But okay, cool. So, I mean, there’s just a lot going on and you hit upon the acquisition of the property in Tech Park for the city that’s going to happen and it’s just other things going on. We still have zero millage rate. Yes, quite a bit of money, unspent money in the bank. Is it $59 million or something?
Alex Wright 0:41:22
That’s correct. Now, to be clear, a lot of that money, it’s not just we can spend on anything there. Some of it is earmarked. When I say earmarked, it’s money specifically has to be spent, say on stormwater or on lost money. It’s got requirements. We’ve created some specific savings funds for different things. So it’s not just all laying around. We can go crazy and it’s unallocated. But we are in a very strong financial position. One of the ratios that I like to mention that apparently in city finances is one of the things they measure is they look at, they call the general fund, which would be things other than Sploss and stormwater and say, well how much money do you have saved versus what they call operating budget. So if our operating budget is let’s say $20 million, well if we had $20 million say, that means basically twelve months of savings. If you think about it in your own personal life, sure. The gold standard in municipal finances is roughly three months. So we on a regular basis are at and beyond twelve months of that. So that’s a good measuring stick that you can kind of compare against cities across the nation. So to think that we’re able to do that with a zero millage rate and I would argue probably the main reason is because we’ve got so many businesses here. If you look at your business to kind of residential balance, we’re about 60 40. If you went up to say, Johns Creek, it’s more like 80 20, which is the reason their property taxes, they’ve got one and we don’t. So we’re a very unique municipality in that regard. So that’s one of the reasons that is so important. The council is so focused on, hey, how do we help revitalize tech part because that’s the golden goose, if you will, that keeps us able to have a zero military. And that’s ultimately where your average person is going to pay attention to what’s going on is when suddenly say, hey, we’re going to start taking money from you. They’ll perk over and say, hey, what the heck is going on? You don’t want to do that.
Rico Figliolini 0:43:41
Spoken to a few people about like just because it’s Technology Park and its offices doesn’t mean it can’t be revamped into something a bit different. I’d love to see this college campuses that have offshoot. GSU has a satellite campus in Dunwoody, I think. And there’s no reason why Georgia Tech for example, can’t have a satellite campus here in Peachtree Corners taken over several buildings. I mean there’s things like that that can happen if it’s attractive enough for certain places, right?
Alex Wright 0:44:14
Yeah, no absolutely. I know the mayor has been a big proponent of trying to get the Gwinnett College or Gwynette Tech I can’t remember to open up a campus Peachtree Corners life that I don’t know the stats of that, but literally from day one, he has been an advocate for getting a local college presence here, which I think would be a great idea.
Rico Figliolini 0:44:33
Yeah, especially if it’s a technology based type of school. So yeah, I can see that. That would be great. The only other thing I would love to see is an art theater center, a complex of some sort.
Alex Wright 0:44:47
Be surprised if that I think that’s probably going to happen. I don’t know the timing but I’m just speculating here that. I would bet you in five years that the city’s got some type of facility. Again, it’d probably be like a private public partnership, something like that, if not sooner, is kind of my speculation.
Rico Figliolini 0:45:07
Good to say. Good to hear. All right, so before we end, I know it’s sold out, I think, so there’s no more places for it. But the Decathlon, the third annual Decathlon that you’re really invested and involved in and actually started was the founder of it, if you will. Can you tell us that’s coming up in October? October 21.
Alex Wright 0:45:30
That’s correct. October 21. So it’s held over at the fitness trail out the town green. And if you’ve never there’s a new playground there. If you ever kind of venture into the woods beyond the playground, that’s where all the fitness trail is. And kind of the origins of that. Not to go into too much detail, but I’m a member of the Y, and they used to have kind of a similar concept at the Y to raise money, and it was meant different things inside the Y. But basically the way it works is you would have ten events at the decathlon, and you had five minutes at each obstacle, if you will, and the quicker you finished it, someone will record your time, and then the rest of the five minutes was your rest, if you will. So it’s almost like capitalism. The harder you go, the more time off you got. So anyway, they would add up all the times, composite. Whoever had the lowest time was the winter. So we took that idea out to the fitness trail, and it’s very much a niche kind of thing, because some of the obstacles, like climbing ropes, most people can’t do that. It’s often kind of difficult to explain to people what it is. But I’m pretty excited because we sold out, like, in a month. And the reason there’s only a certain number of slots, because the capacity to handle a lot of folks is just kind of limited. But the word is spreading to kind of cross the north metro area. We’ve got a waitlist. And my biggest concern always is rain, because nothing I can do about that. The week leading up on just kind of a nervous rate, like, please don’t rain. But yeah, they got some really impressive people that come out and do it. It makes you realize how old you are when you see some of these ladies. I’m pretty excited about it. Definitely have a passion for it. I love going out to the fitness trail. I’ll just be walking through there and you’ll see people of all ages trying to do different things. And if you think about kind of our state of physical fitness, if you will, like in the country where my own kids, they’re on video games or whatever, where you see people out doing something, I love to see that. Especially like the younger kids, even if they can’t necessarily climb a rope, they’re intrigued through stuff, whether the playground, whatever. It’s great seeing that.
Rico Figliolini 0:48:01
Just get out there and do something, right.
Alex Wright 0:48:04
Rico Figliolini 0:48:05
So 72 available slots, all gone. There’s a waiting list now, and we’ll have the Hype video, if you will, on our show notes. This way people can see what it’s all about rather than trying to envision it. So it’s a great video. I think Titan Pictures put that one together.
Alex Wright 0:48:22
Yeah, jim Stone did some videos from last year’s, and most of the people in there are local residents that you might recognize. That’s the other thing that’s kind of neat about it is very much a local kind of a community building activity.
Rico Figliolini 0:48:37
Very cool to see it. We’ve come to the end of our time together. This a little longer than we had planned, so I appreciate you hanging in there with me, Alex, and talking through this. Yeah, no, I think hopefully everyone listening to this or reading the synopsis of this, because we’ll be doing a short piece on this as well. Will know quite a bit more about what’s going on in the city. So appreciate you being with me, Alex. Thank you.
Alex Wright 0:49:03
Yeah, thank you.
Rico Figliolini 0:49:04
Stay with me for a second as I just close out. I just want to say thank you to everyone. If you’re listening to this on Audio Life, Apple podcast or something, like or review us, give us a star rating because this way people can find us. If you’re listening to this on YouTube or our Facebook page, feel free to share it with people or tag people in the comments that may want to find out a little bit more about what’s going on in the city of Peachtree Corners. Again, I want to thank our sponsors, EV Remodeling Inc. You can find them at evremodelinginc.com. And Clearwave Fiber. You can find them also on our link in our profiles as well. Thanks again and hope to see you soon.
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