One million square feet

Thu, 11/03/2005 - 4:39pm
By: Ben Nelms

Proposed Fairburn center would reshape Hwy. 74 corridor

One million square feet
It’s going to be big. Really big.

Fairburn’s Planning & Zoning Commission Tuesday gave its approval to a conceptual site plan that will place nearly one million square feet of commercial space on 110 acres along the east side of Ga. Highway 74 between Milam Road and just south of Oakley Industrial Boulevard.

Chicago-based Landmark Properties submitted the conceptual site plan that received commission approval at the Tuesday meeting. Speaking to commissioners, City Administrator Jim Williams gave an overview of the thinking that led to the proposal to bring nearly one million square feet of commercial space to the Hwy. 74 corridor.

“We’ve been working a long time on the property on 74 between I-85 and Milam Road,” Williams said. “And some very good things have started to happen there. Instead of being developed in five or six or seven small tracts, Landmark Properties has acquired the entire 110 acres that is zoned commercial, all the way from the Wingate Inn property to Milam Road except the corner (of Milam Road) where the Citgo and the Chinese restaurant are located.

“The reason this is important is that if you get all the land put into one single parcel you can do a good site plan, whereas if you try to do it piecemeal it’s very difficult. We spent quite a bit of time with the developer and the developer’s engineers and outlined the things we thought were most important. And they have responded 100 percent.”

Williams added that conceptually, the project would begin at Milam Road and move north toward I-85.

During the presentation, Landmark representative Aaron Weeks displayed the conceptual site plan and the drawings reflecting the architectural characteristics of the planned development. Those renderings were noticeably upscale.

“These are ideas of the texture, the feel, of the overall development style and theme we’re looking for,” he said. “Our attempt is to make this a quality development. We are making an enormous investment in your community.”

Responding to a question from the board concerning the largest of the several anchor businesses conceived for the site, Weeks said Landmark currently had no firm commitments for the proposed 195,000-square-foot retailer. Until the process was further along Landmark did not want to get ahead of the city, he said, adding that his company was targeting top-tier companies to locate in the center.

“We needed to be able to tell retailers that we have some sort of approval for this, that the city is on our side with this. So the timing with this, and the approval tonight, is really the key to us moving it forward in a way that will bring the best retailer to this site,” Weeks said. “So tonight is the beginning stepping stone. We’re going to set the bar in this area. It’s something you’ll be proud of.”

Weeks said his company’s original intent was to develop a much smaller portion of the area. But those plans changed.

“After sitting down with Mr. Williams and getting a real flavor of the layout of the commercial tract we recognized the potential of acquiring the entire piece and making one contiguous development,” he said. “Mr. Williams was very clear about what would be the best development. Our engineers and designers took that and really captured the intent of the city in a way that makes this a great, attractive development.”

Commenting on access to the site, Williams said one of the features of the project includes the placement of two interparcel roadways spanning the entire site and a third service road behind the buildings. Another feature of the project involves access from Hwy. 74 to the 110-acre site. He said plans call for adding two new median cuts in addition to those already existing at Meadow Glen and Oakley Industrial Boulevard. The new median cuts are proposed to be approximately half way between Oakley and Meadow Glen and half way between Meadow Glen and Milam, he said.

“We took that concept to DOT and they were very excited about it because it provided for a known number of median cuts and the spacing was right. In return for approving those median cuts we agreed that we would not do right in, right out driveways between the median cuts. The developer came up with a plan that accomplishes that,” said Williams. “And we told DOT that we want to provide a continuous route (inside the development) from Harris Road Extension (adjacent to Wingate Inn) all the way to Milam Road without getting out on 74. This site plan has two access roads between Harris and Milam so there are two choices for traffic. Plus, there is a continuous service road behind the building all the way from Milam to Harris.”

City staff included four conditions for the conceptual site plan. Those included submission of a detailed architectural design and sign program, the preservation of the basic concept throughout the process, adherence to the Hwy. 74 Corridor Plan and Overlay Ordinance and the submission of an appropriate landscaping plan.

Williams summed up the project in a manner suggesting that the future of Fairburn’s commercial development was far from complete.

“I think what we’ve got here is a very, very good project,” Williams said. “It’s something that I think we’ve all been waiting for to get the commercial development properly going on the east side (of Hwy. 74) and I think it’s of the upmost importance for the future of Fairburn. I think by getting this going it will cause good development to happen on the west side.”

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