Shop ‘til you drop . . . in Fairburn

Tue, 11/08/2005 - 10:56pm
By: Ben Nelms

Bigger than Shannon Mall and second only to Fayetteville’s Pavilion south of I-85.

That describes the proposed commercial development of 110 acres and 1 million square feet of commercial space along Ga. Highway 74 just inside Fairburn city limits.

The project is destined to impact tens of thousands of residents in Fayette and Coweta counties, both in terms of shopping opportunities and the ever-increasing volume of traffic on the Hwy. 74 corridor south of Interstate 85.

For comparison, Fayetteville’s massive Pavilion contains 1.8 million square feet of commercial development on 165 acres, the second largest shopping center in the state. The Avenue in Peachtree City contains 175,000 square feet of commercial space on just under 18 acres.

Nearby Shannon Mall, one exit to the north, contains 734,000 square feet of commercial space.

Peachtree City Mayor Steve Brown said the proposed development is an example of the expanding growth along the Hwy. 74 corridor. Such growth will produce much longer commute times for residents living further south along Hwy. 74.

But, Brown said, that growth also presents an opportunity for area jurisdictions, such as those comprising the recently formed Hwy. 74 Alliance, to become increasingly proactive in the way the transportation issues resulting from growth are approached.

“I’ve been warning my constituents for the last three years that traffic conditions on 74 were going to get substantially worse. With the growth in Fairburn and all along 74, I think we’re going to see all kinds of development coming,” Brown said.

“And in the 74 Alliance, we’ve got a group of elected officials and staff willing to talk about the issues,” Brown said. “We have a unique opportunity to deal with the consequences of this and future developments.”

Fairburn’s Planning and Zoning Commission Oct. 31 gave unanimous approval to a conceptual site plan for the development that extends along the east side of Hwy. 74 between Milam Road to just south of the new Wingate Inn and Oakley Industrial Boulevard.

The development extends to the southern limit of Fairburn along Hwy. 74, all the way to the Fulton-Fayette border and just a half-mile north of the northernmost Tyrone town limits.

“Not being privy to the conceptual site plan, I can still envision a quality development,” said Sandra Hardy. She is a member of the Fulton County Planning and Zoning Board and a Fairburn resident.

“Having Jim Williams, Fairburn city administrator, at the helm insures us that the ‘live, work, play’ corridor is exactly what those of us who have been in the trenches for so many year are welcoming,” Hardy said. “I certainly endorse this kind of development. It will be a catalyst for future quality economic development.”

Williams is the former long-time director of planning for Peachtree City.

The conceptual site plan was submitted by Chicago-based Landmark Properties. At the meeting, Williams provided an overview of the rationale that led to the proposal.

“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.”

Landmark representative Aaron 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.

The prohibition of right-in, right-out driveways while structuring the traffic flow inside the commercial area in a manner that allows access to the entire property by way of two inter-parcel roads and a third service road was significant in the design of the project, Williams said.

“We took the 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,” Williams said. “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.”

Fayetteville City Manager Joe Morton is no stranger to large commercial development, with projects such as the city’s huge Pavilion shopping area.

“Any time you have the opportunity to master-plan a large acreage, you should go that way. In doing so, you know what the area is going to look like down the road,” Morton said.

Looking down the road at the positive effects of the development, South Fulton Chamber of Commerce President John Boothby said such a development is a component of the emerging landscape where opportunities exist and challenges can be met.

“This is exciting news for the people and the leadership of Fairburn. I have every confidence that the staff and elected leadership will do everything they can to make this the highest quality development possible,” Boothby said. “With Fairburn’s residential growth, this development will give citizens additional live, work and play opportunities. Transportation will be a challenge that needs to be addressed, but this could be a part of the answer.”

Speaking to Planning and Zoning commissioners Oct. 31, 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.”

login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Submitted by TLN on Thu, 11/10/2005 - 6:57am.

The new mall in Fairburn isn't needed. All the money and effort that is or will be spent on this mall could be used to revitalize Shannon Mall and the surrounding area. The mall itself is barely twenty years old for crying out loud!

DanTennant's picture
Submitted by DanTennant on Thu, 11/10/2005 - 8:03am.

What do mean it's "not needed"? Hey, I am dreading the potential traffic nightmare up there right now with a million more square feet of retail 8 miles from my doorstep, but to say it's not needed is silly. The market determines what is "needed". Believe me, a zillion dollars are going to be spent on this development, and you can bet your bottom dollar plenty of people are reasonably assured that it is needed, else it would not occur.

As to Shannon Mall, I haven't been there in 8 years. The place is run down and it's scary walking around there with plenty of shady characters to be seen. To me, this is no different than putting a wrecking ball to Busch Stadium in St. Louis, a stadium that is still structurally sound and functional, but not up to the standards of the customer---in this case St. Louis Cardinals baseball fans. Same for any new stadium really, including Turner Field.

Anyhow, we thankfully live in a capitalistic society. The new place in Fairburn will in all likelihood be a nice place to shop. Just gotta hope traffic conditions are not out of control. I'm going to build me a heliport and not deal with any of this anyhow.

Dan Tennant

secret squirrel's picture
Submitted by secret squirrel on Thu, 11/10/2005 - 9:35am.

Dan, you're right inre: marketplace issues driving an aspect of "need," but as those of us who were here before Shannon Mall, we heard then the same things you're saying now about the "future" Fairburn. Fairburn, as Union City, has made strident attempts at bringing in high-density, low income housing and as the arrest reports in The Citizen have revealed over the last few years, the crime rate and seriousness has increased.

The point is that there are other important considerations, even in a capitalist economy, than purely poverty. Especially in a time in which we are more and more conscious of protecting natural resources, overburdened infrastructure and home values.

This development will happen and it will cause more problems than it will solve. Honestly, what shopping will be brought in that we do not already have access to elsewhere and online?

I'd recommend everyone interested in getting a better perspective on this read the writings of Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and her husband Andres Duany on the concepts of New Urbanism.

DanTennant's picture
Submitted by DanTennant on Thu, 11/10/2005 - 5:24pm.

Man, this is getting pretty heady here. One question---seems like Liz can't get along with anybody. Ought to be Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk-Duany. Dang hyphenated names get so hard to read though...

Dan Tennant

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Thu, 11/10/2005 - 9:43am.

Fairburn is going to do whatever Fairburn wants to do. No amount of whining and hand-wringing is going to change that. They aren't even in Fayette County.

We can either deal with it or move away to some place where it doesn't affect us. Or, I guess whine incessantly about it just like a lot of people do about Riverdale. I don't live in Fairburn or Riverdale. If I want to change their thinking, I'll move there and run for office. No thanks.


Submitted by Hey on Wed, 11/09/2005 - 5:08am.

Just what we need....another Union City at our back door.

Leoah Whineknott's picture
Submitted by Leoah Whineknott on Thu, 11/10/2005 - 10:02am.

Union City, Riverdale, Fairburn, Newnan..... We wouldn't have a problem with them at all if we weren't there trouncing through their communities in the first place.

Let's get control of the development at our own front door before we start complaining about someone else's development at our back door.

We need to start demanding the type of "quality" development that Peachtree City was always known for BEFORE Steve Brown took office. A time when former PTC Planner and current Fairburn Manager, Jim Williams, had some influence. Just be thankful that he will have some influence on the new development in Fairburn and pray that our new PTC leaders will bring back the high standards and self respect we've lost with Mayor Steve Brown.

Leoah Whineknott

secret squirrel's picture
Submitted by secret squirrel on Wed, 11/09/2005 - 12:01pm.

When I first came to Peachtree City, Highways 54 and 74 were two lanes as far as you thought about driving them and the biggest excitement was anything going on down at the Amphitheater.

If you want to see the future for Highway 74 from Peachtree City to Fairburn, simply drive Georgia 85 from Fayetteville to Riverdale: traffic lights every 5 feet, gridlock from 7am through 7pm, and commercial development on every single corner with devalued homes tucked in behind and elevated crime rates.

Tyrone and Fairburn don't have enough chainsaws and bonfires to clear greenspace quick enough to build Riverdale Jr. But it's coming...

Leoah Whineknott's picture
Submitted by Leoah Whineknott on Thu, 11/10/2005 - 9:41am.

I remember when PTC was nothing but greenspace and pastures. (Not just Hwys 54 & 74) The most exciting thing to do was to sneak onto someone else's property and tip cows or camp out at "The Rocks."

Take a good look around you, Mr. Squirrel. Riverdale Jr. is right here in Peachtree City along Hwy 54 West, thanks to Mayor Steve Brown.

Where do you think all the traffic in Tyrone and Fairburn is coming from? If Peachtree Cityites don't want to shop in Fairburn, by all means, stay home and keep the SUV's off the road!

Leoah Whineknott

nuk's picture
Submitted by nuk on Thu, 11/10/2005 - 9:38am.

It's a shame we cannot control every surrounding county and city to do whatever we feel they should do. How dare they plan something without consulting how it will affect PTC residents? "Whoops, can't develop this land, it might change the commute for PTC drivers!" Waaaaaaaaaah!

As far as Abandon Mall, who the hell would put money into that dump? It's been *renovated* a few times already, been up on the block for several years, and no one wants to buy it. Or shop there!

Best thing to do with Abandon Mall is bulldoze it and turn it into a MARTA Park-n-Ride lot. It is not ECONOMICALLY VIABLE as a shopping destination.

Nobody U Know

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.