PTC residents should consider many advantages of selling roads for Kohl’s

Tue, 01/29/2008 - 4:37pm
By: Letters to the ...

This opinion is tied into the ad presentation in The Citizen for Jan. 30, 2008, titled “Peachtree City Faces a Critical Decision,” which addresses the Ga. Highway 54 West development and the abandonment of the roads.

To abandon the roads or not is the question. Well, it is time to decide. The term “abandon” seems a bit harsh as the city doesn’t just hand over title of the roads to the developer and walk away. Not so easy.

Once the City Council has decided to abandon the roads, they are appraised by a registered appraiser and a value is determined. The developer then pays at least that amount to the city, and also agrees to any other stipulations the city requires.

It is estimated the appraised value of the roads is in the $500,000 to $1 million range, money the city can use as it sees fit.

It is logical to ask what will be built in the area if the roads are abandoned. The presentation in this edition of The Citizen newspaper gives a view of three proposals that can give you a pretty good idea of what could go into this area.

Although there may be alterations to the plans, they are pretty much the sum and substance of what can happen. Let’s look at some points of the plans starting with Proposal Three.

Proposal Three is what will happen if the roads are not abandoned. This limits the developer to what he can do on the land as he is required to work around the roads. The roads are not his, so he can’t alter them.

For instance, he is not allowed to recess the back part of the lot. This means the buildings in the back of the lot would be at the same level as the property line of the Cardiff Park neighborhood, thus exposing them to the sight of the buildings as well as all the noise and lights from this area.

The developer already has companies that want to build in this area. One of them is a gas station and the other is a regional restaurant (which, by the way, creates a regional draw people wish to avoid) and a lot of low-rent space due to the low quality of the overall development.

There is already a gas station across the street and three more within 0.8 mile in either direction. Do we need another gas station?

It has been said that it was known to the residents of Cardiff Park that the area was General Commercial, so they should accept their fate.

There is some truth to that. However, the residents started to work with the developers of both the Flexion and Capital City developments since the very first time the developments were known to get a plan that safeguarded the residents of Cardiff Park and Peachtree City.

The Cardiff Park residents also know that as humans they are going to die some day. Does that mean that they should go out and drink, smoke, do drugs, and speed in their cars because they know they will die anyway?

No, they take precautions to keep their health, quality of life and safety as best they can. Fighting for a good development next door is part of that drive. This is nothing more then any of you would do if a development were planned in your back yard.

Proposal Three does not require any City Council approval to complete as the land is already zoned General Commercial (GC) so all the developer needs to do is comply with the city ordinances for this development.

Proposal Three will look like any other strip mall you see in any other city. It will not be a unique setting as expected in Peachtree City.

Proposal One was developed between the developer and several residents of Peachtree City to arrive at a plan that would protect the Cardiff Park neighborhood as well as be good for Peachtree City, especially since it was part of the west entrance to the city. The plan as proposed did include a Kohl’s store of 89,000 square feet.

At the request of the residents committee, Kohl’s agreed to several changes to the facade of the store to make it more acceptable to Peachtree City esthetics. They also agreed to several restrictions, most prominently no truck activity around the building between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.

What makes this development a very secure plan to develop and give it long life certainty is the way Kohl’s is committed to the deal.

Kohl’s would lease the land from the developer, which typically is a 20-year lease. Kohl’s would build the building. It would be their building, not the developers. This makes it hard for Kohl’s to just up and leave as they have the building to sell as well as the 20-year lease on the land.

If they decided to leave, they need to sell the building, which is designed so that it could be portioned in half to allow for sale of smaller areas of the store. As an aside, Kohl’s has not closed a department store in over 20 years. Kohl’s is still interested in settling in Peachtree City.

Proposal One also has very generous tree cover, numerous pedestrian walks and rest areas, and the aesthetics expected of a development in Peachtree City. It will be very much like The Avenues development.

The developer has also agreed to extend the golf cart paths around the development and connect it to the current city path. Additionally, both sides of Planterra Way at Hwy. 54 would be re-landscaped. The current peach trees are at the end of their life cycle and are dying off. The re-landscaping and the golf cart path extensions will save a lot of city tax dollars.

Proposal Two was developed as an alternative to Proposals One and Three and has many of the items already included in Proposal One. It is an attempt by the developer to get a plan that was more acceptable to the people of Peachtree City.

However, it does not include a single large 89,000-square-foot building, but two smaller building of about 40,000 square feet each. He is attempting to get a plan that includes a Whole Foods store as so many people had requested that type of store. Indeed several people had already emailed Whole Foods asking them to come to Peachtree City.

As it turns out, Whole Foods has decided against coming to Peachtree City as we do not fit their demographic profile. This has not put a nail in the coffin of Proposal Two, however. The developer is still trying to find retailers to buy into this plan, a task made difficult by the oncoming recession, whether real or perceived.

I urge you to look at the proposals in the newspaper this week and examine them closely. There is a lot of detail about each plan to help you reach an intelligent and rational decision about what would be good for Peachtree City in this particular case.

Remember that a plan of “do nothing” (I call this the ostrich plan) is not a plan. The developer will build on this land. He has to recover the significant investment he has in the purchase of the land. He cannot wait any longer nor do nothing.

Without the City Council abandonment of the roads, he will build Proposal Three to the detriment of the quality of life of Peachtree City and its residents.

You need to contact the City Council and let them know your thoughts so they can reach a decision on this matter at the Feb. 7, 2008, City Council meeting.

If you feel you this does not affect you because you do not live in the area, still contact the council and let them know your thoughts.

Redevelopment is coming along, and the next development could be in your back yard, or at least too close for comfort. I am sure you would want the support of the people in other areas of Peachtree City to help you.

Tim Lydell

Peachtree City, Ga.

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