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Category Archive for: ‘OTP!!!!!’

  • TSPLOST Videos

    In case you’re late to the polls today (polling ends at 7pm in most areas), here are a few more opinions via videos on TSPLOST –

  • T-SPLOST Vote is Tomorrow, How Will You Be Voting?

    For those in the Atlanta area, there may not be a single issue more important than the T-SPLOST vote on tomorrow’s ballot. Here are some great links to help you decide how you will be voting.

    Both sides weigh in on this AJC blog.

    Here are the facts as laid out on the T-SPLOST website.

    Those that oppose T-SPLOST have a very detailed blog that will include updates on voting throughout the day. Visit them for info on why they say to vote NO!

    Here are some of the T-SPLOST claims and why this writer thinks they are unfounded.

    T-SPLOST pros and cons is a quick overview of both sides of the fence.

    Untie Atlanta wants voters to vote YES to T-Splost!

    Creative Loafing shares pros and cons on the proposed tax.

    And of course, our own Atlanta Property Journal has been on the T-SPLOST debate for a while now. Take a look at these past posts for some helpful info:

    Can We Trust the DOT?

    Rounding Up T-SPLOST

    Questions on T-SPLOST

    APJ Quick Guide To T-SPLOST

     

     

     

     

     

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  • TSPLOST – Can We Trust the DOT?

    Gotta get downtown . . . .

    Our second question about TSPLOST is whether the DOT can get the job done on time and on budget.

    If I were hiring a contractor for a job, I would obviously want to do some background checking, get references, and see past work. If I am going to decide that Atlanta should spend several billion dollars on 150 projects around the city, I want to do the same diligence on the Department of Transportation.

    Is the DOT going to get job done on time and on budget?

    Well, I have watched this project improving the Peachtree Rd corridor from Piedmont to Peachtree Dunwoody. They seem to be doing fine, but doesn’t it seem like it has taken about twice as long as it should? I don’t remember the exact timeline for the project, but it has been several years to add a simple median with some plants.

    I also remember the project at Roxboro and E Paces. What did that take? Like 10 years?

    Or the widening of Abernathy from Roswell to Johnson Ferry? That’s been about 5 years and I still see orange cones.

    400 was supposed to stop tolling me when it was paid for. It got paid off a couple years ago . . . . I still pay. (I know Governor Deal claimed this would stop at the end of next year, but I am still paying right now.)

    I guess the moral is that I trust the DOT about as far as I can throw them. I know there are thousands of reasons for delays, setbacks, and cost overruns and maybe my expectations are too high. But I work in the CRE business. Construction is a little hobby of mine. We seem to get our stuff done on time and on budget.

    Having said all that, this TSPLOST vote is supposed to keep the money with the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission and is also requiring the creation of a Citizen Review Panel to oversee progress of the projects. (Scott Selig wrote a decent article including these two entities here.) I have no idea who is selected to be on these two special groups or what “power” they will have.

    For example, if the DOT runs late on improving the 400 and 285 interchange, what will the Citizen Review Panel do about it? Will they write scathing letter?

    Good . . . now I feel better about the hundreds of millions of dollars we allocated there.

    Do you see what I’m getting at?

    The DOT’s track record is against it.

    Fine, then they are doing something to increase the accountability.

    Good idea. Did they go far enough?

    Meh . . . . maybe.

    I’d call this one a wash. I think they are trying to do more to hold the DOT to budgets and timelines, but decades of history are working against them.

    So let’s call this is solid “Maybe”.

    On to our final thoughts on TSPLOST Monday before the big vote Tuesday.

    – Duke

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  • Rounding Up TSPLOST

    I guess this is what rush hour will look like if we pass TSPLOST . . .

    As part of our ongoing discussion on the Transportation Special Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax, or TSPLOST, referendum up for vote on July 31, let’s take a minuet to dig a little deeper into these projects on the proposed list.

    We previously looked at a list of the projects proposed based on a map found at UntieAtlanta.com. Using that map, I counted 147 projects (some of the literature claims 157, but we are cloe enough to make some generalizations) spread across 10 metro counties. I am fully admitting that I may not have ALL of the information on this referendum, but I think I have MOST of it and that should be good enough to get a general sense of what is being proposed. If anyone knows of a more comprehensive or accurate resource than the ones I have used for my data-gathering, please let me know in the comments and I can update!

    So, as we are trying to figure out whether this initiative will actually alleviate some of the traffic burdens of the metro area, let’s take a deeper look at the projects, their budgets, and noticeable trends.

     

    The firs thing I notice is how spread out these projects are. I was under the impression that this was an Atlanta initiative. This looks more to me like an Atlanta MSA initiative with projects in every major suburban area (except the Panthersville/SE Atlanta corridor, interestingly).

    This handy pdf from Georgia Trend shows a quick breakout of the projects by region as follows:

    North Fulton – $384,900,000

    Northeast – $898,950,000

    East – $67,300,000

    Henry County & Southeast – $213,000,000

    Clayton County & South – $313,170,000

    Southwest – $196,860,000

    Douglas & Westside – $332,860,000

    Downtown & Midtown – $601,892,477

    City of Atlanta – $134,332,592

    Dekalb Projects – $185,250,000

    Total – $3,328,515,069

     

    A few things that stand out when looking at these numbers.

    The City of Atlanta is getting about $740 Million. That’s about $140 Million less than Gwinnett County.

    Is anyone else surprised that the largest number is going to Gwinnett? What does that say about our transportation priorities?

    Having said that, our last post had $112 Million going toward improving MARTA, so I suppose that could be counted toward in-town funds. But that is STILL less than is being spent in Gwinnett.

    Gimme more stop lights!

    While we are on the topic, why am I paying for upgrades to MARTA? I don’t see any new branches being developed or neighborhoods being reached by our rapid transit. So why am I sending money to MARTA to update their elevators, ventilation , passenger notifications, etc? Doesn’t MARTA have it’s own budget?

    Am I paying to bail out MARTA?

    As far as the in-town stuff goes, you know I love the Beltline and think it’s a great draw for bringing people to the city.

    I notice we are fixing some bridges downtown. Hmmmm. I also notice that our road projects in town seem to be cheaper than the suburban surface road improvements. Maybe that’s because some of those suburban improvements are widenings, but it seems odd that most of our road improvements are a couple hundred thousand dollars and most of the suburban deals are a couple million.

    From my list, I counted a total of 82 projects that I opposed and 65 projects that I supported. That’s closer than I expected, but I still oppose more than I support.

    All told, we are proposing to spend approximately $2,407,040,000 in the suburbs and $1,033,475,069 in town (I am including the Dekalb and MARTA stuff as in town).

    So, in a city whose culture has been decimated by sprawl, we are proposing to fix our transportation issues by spending more than twice as much money on suburban projects as in town projects?

    Hmmmmm . . . . maybe I am missing something.

     

    What else did you readers notice? Any trends or special projects of interest that stood out as you were trying to wrap your head around this massive proposition?

    Now that we have gone through what is in this deal, check back this week for an analysis of whether the DOT can pull this off.

    – Duke

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  • Questions on TSPLOST

    Underground transit will cure what ails you!

    Now that we have a quick guide to the projects proposed on TSPLOST, let’s take a couple posts to answer the basic questions on TSPLOST that will help us figure out exactly what we are voting for on July 31st.

    Specifically, let’s try to answer these:

    What is it? – What projects are involved and what money is being allocated where? (This will be a follow up to our Quick Guide)

    How Realistic Is it? – Can the DOT pull this huge project off in the timeline? It doesn’t matter how cool it sounds if the DOT can’t pull it off . . .

    What specific problems will be solved? – I know we all want to Untie Atlanta. How will these projects do that?

    What happens if it doesn’t pass? – Do we sink into a traffic-choked oblivion? Can we try again next year?

    Given our future hope and dreams for the city, is this the best course of action?

     

    Alright. That seems like a decent road map (pun!) that should get us to a “yes” or “no.” Check back over the next week or two as we will try to answer these questions as thoroughly as possible and get some debate moving on whether TSPLOST will truly untie Atlanta traffic.

    – Duke

  • APJ Quick Guide to TSPLOST Projects

     

    Not sure if I want to vote “yes”

    Today I ran across the UntieAtlanta.com site (link is here) and I think it’s a great resource to educate yourself about the TSPLOST vote coming up on July 31st.

    It’s nice to have a quick and easy resource to show all of the projects and timing associated with this huge bill as I suspect most people are confused as to what exactly they will be voting for. My favorite part (and most educational) is the interactive map that places markers on all the projects and has brief descriptions of their timing and price.

    As I mentioned before, there is no such thing as a perfect bill. There are parts that I agree with and parts that I disagree with. And I think it is important to point out the difference between doing “something” and doing the “right thing”. I know that action makes us all feel better, but action for action’s sake is a great way to go far in the wrong direction.

    So my basic two questions for this bill are: 1) Is there more to like than dislike in this bill? and 2) Is this the right thing to do or just something to do to address our transportation issues?

    I think the answer to #1 will tell me the answer to #2. And my answer to number one is actually very easy to figure out: Would I vote to send 1 cent out of every dollar I spend to go to fixing _______________? By breaking down TSPLOST piece-by-piece I can quantify how many of the projects I support and how many I oppose. If there are more that I support than I oppose, then I’m a “yes” on TSPLOST. If not, I basically have to figure out if the Beltline and other projects I view as crucial are worth all that money I don’t want to spend on the other projects.

    And let me reiterate something I said last time.

    WE NEED TO UPGRADE, IMPROVE, AND FIX ALL OF OUR TRANSPORTATION IF WE WANT TO CONTINUE TO GROW AS AN INTERNATIONAL CITY.

    I don’t think that is open to debate. Atlanta will grow when people want to be here. People want to be here when they enjoy our quality of life. Our quality of life is highly tied to our ability to move in and around the city. Therefore transportation (along with water and eduction) is one of the crucial issues facing Atlanta in my lifetime. So, don’t think I underestimate the value of upgrading our transportation. And don’t think that I wish the suburban roads and transportation systems to fall into disrepair. I just want to make sure that this is the best long-term decision for our city before I throw my “yes” around.

    So, enough explaining. Here are the projects and my vote on them:

     

    Atlanta to Griffin Commuter Rail ($20,000,000) – No

    SR 85 Improvements in Fayetteville ($5,900,000) – No

    South Industrial Path in Fayette County ($1,210,000) – No

    South Industrial Path in Fayette County ($1,150,000) – No

    SR 85 Expansion in Fayetteville ($24,000,000) – No

    MacDuff Pkwy expansion near Peachtree City ($6,400,000) – No

    Bill Gardner Expansion in Henry Co ($27,000,000) – No

    Widening SR 92 in Fayetteville ($15,900,000) – No

    Improving SR 92 in Fayetteville ($20,000,000) – No

    Widening 23/42 in McDonough ($44,000,000) – No

    Widening SR 155 in McDonough ($48,000,000) – No

    Upgrade SR 20/81 in McDonough ($11,000,000) – No

    Widen SR 81 in McDonough ($27,000,000) – No

    Widen East Fayetteville Bypass ($14,000,000) – No

    Parallel Connector off Jonesboro Rd ($17,000,000) – No

    Widen Fayetteville Rd in Jonesboro ($40,180,000) – No

    SR 92 Connector in Fayette Co ($18,300,000) – No

    Improve interchange at SR 74 and I85 ($22,500,000) – No

    Roundabout at Hutcheson Ferry ($1,750,000) – No

    Widen SR 78 in Riverdale ($22,200,000) – No

    Redesign Tara Blvd ($102,170,000) – No

    Improve Old Milton and 400 Interchange ($1,900,000) – No

    Improve SR 92 at South Fulton Pkwy ($16,000,000) – No

    Widening SR 85 in Forest Park ($34,150,000) – Yes

    Widen Conley Rd at I285 ($28,500,000) – Yes

    MARTA at the Airport ($7,160,000) – Yes

    Widen Camp Creek Pkwy at 285 ($60,250,000) – Yes

    Replace bridge over Camp Creek Pkwy ($3,500,000) – No

    New Interchange at 285 and Greenbriar Pkwy ($36,400,000) – Yes

    Improve Campbellton Rd ($1,259,900) – No

    Improve I285 at Cascade Rd ($23,600,000) – Yes

    Regional Traffic control on I20 in Douglasville ($19,000,000) – No

    Multiuse Path in Douglasville ($2,210,000) – No

    Realign SR 92 on west side ($49,000,000) – No

    Widen Lee rd in Lithia springs ($18,900,000) – No

    Widen US 78 in Lithia Springs ($20,000,000) – No

    Improve intersections on Fulton Industrial ($7,500,000) – Yes

    Improve MLK Dr near 285 ($3,000,000) – Yes

    Improve west side 20/285 interchange ($149,000,000) – Yes

    Improve Jonesboro Rd ITP ($7,395,000) – Yes

    Improve I20 at Panola ($21,200,000) – No

    Widen Panola Rd ($30,300,000) – No

    Extend Hayden Quarry Rd in Rockdale ($27,000,000) – No

    Widen Sigman Rd in Rockdale ($30,000,000) – No

    Improve Commerce Crossing in Rockdale ($25,900,000) – No

    Widen Flat shoals Rd in Rockdale ($11,400,000) – No

    Improve Rockbridge Rd in Dekalb ($7,500,000) – No

    Improve Glenwood Rd ITP ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Improve Memorial Dr ITP ($738,750) – Yes

    Peachtree near Spring ($434,875) – Yes

    Improving Piedmont Ave ($3,604,908) – Yes

    Bridge at Courtland St ($22,000,000) – Yes

    Central Ave Bridge ($27,000,000) – Yes

    Pryor St Bridge ($32,100,000) – Yes

    MARTA Tunnel Rehab ($700,000) – Yes

    Improve Edgewood Ave ($527,667) – Yes

    Improve Auburn Ave ($643,750) – Yes

    Improve Courtland St ($750,000) – Yes

    Beltline ($165,952,132) – Yes

    Beltline Midtown to Downtown ($435,940,345) – Yes

    Donald lee Hollowell near 285 ($1,025,000) – Yes

    Improve Joseph E Lowery ITP ($1,188,750) – Yes

    Improve 14th at Howell Mill ($575,000) – Yes

    Improve Boulevard near Ponce ($1,150,000) – Yes

    Improve 10th to Monroe ($462,000) – Yes

    Improve North Ave ($457,500) – Yes

    Improve Ponce near Spring ($618,125) – Yes

    Decatur to Clifton Corridor ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Improve College Ave near Avondale Estates ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Memorial Drive near 285 ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Premium Transit form the NW to Arts Center ($695,000,000) – Yes*

    Improve Spring St near Peachtree ($1,292,125) – Yes

    River View Rd near South Cobb ($16,500,000) – Yes

    Improve Howell Mill near I-75 ($512,500) – Yes

    Improve Monroe Dr ($706,250) – Yes

    Improve N Druid Hills Corridor ($25,000,000) – Yes

    Clifton Corridor Rail Transit ($700,000,000) – Yes

    Improve Northside Dr near W paces ($525,325) – Yes

    Improve Piedmont Rd corridor ($612,000) – Yes

    Improve Peachtree from Peachtree Dunwoody to Collier ($1,713,450) – Yes

    Widen 360 in Paulding County ($30,000,000) – No

    Improve Thornton Rd in Paulding ($43,000,000) – No

    Improve S Cobb near 285 ($9,000,000) – Yes

    Widening Windy Hill ($22,999,900) – Yes

    I75 at Windy Hill ($77,000,000) – Yes

    Cobb Parkway at Windy Hill ($93,000,000) – Yes

    Windy Hill and Terrell Mill Connection ($14,000,000) – No

    Hammond Dr at 400 ($33,500,000) – Yes

    MARTA extension Sandy Springs ($37,000,000) – Yes

    285 and 400 Interchange ($450,000,000) – Yes

    Ashford Dunwoody Corridor Improvements ($5,000,000) – Yes

    Improve Mt Vernon Corridor ($12,000,000) – Yes

    400 from 285 to Spalding ($190,000,000) – Yes

    Buford Hwy & PIB alignment ($25,000,000) – Yes

    Spaghetti Junction Improvements ($53,000,000) – Yes

    Trails on Hwy 29 in Lilburn ($1,850,000) – No

    Widen Five Forks Trickum Rd in Lilburn ($10,400,000) – No

    Intersection of US 78 and Hwy 124 in Snellville ($19,100,000) – No

    Hillcrest Satellite Connector in Norcross ($19,900,000) – No

    West Liddell Connector in Norcross ($39,300,000) – No

    Cobb Pkwy and Barrett Pkwy in Kennesaw ($9,800,000) – No

    McCollum Airport ($690,000) – No

    McCollum Airport ($2,500,000) – No

    Moon Station Rd in Kennesaw ($4,500,000) – No

    Busbee Frey Connector in Kennesaw ($21,500,000) – No

    Roswell Rd Improvements in Roswell ($20,000,000) – No

    Atlanta St in Roswell ($20,400,000) – No

    Holcomb Br interchange at 400 ($48,000,000) – No

    Peachtree Pkwy and PIB in John’s Creek ($46,000,000) – No

    Pleasant Hill Widening in John’s Creek ($11,600,000) – No

    Abbotts Br widening in John’s Creek ($28,000,000) – No

    Buford Hwy Widening in Duluth ($14,000,000) – No

    Duluth Hwy widening in Lawrenceville ($38,400,000) – No

    Walther Blvd and 316 in Lawrenceville ($10,600,000) – No

    316 at Hi Hope Rd in Lawrenceville ($61,900,000) – No

    316 at US 29 in Lawrenceville ($51,000,000) – No

    Sugarloaf Pkwy Alignment in Lawrenceville ($296,000,000) – No

    316 at Harbins Rd in Lawrenceville ($23,000,000) – No

    Dacula Rd in Dacula ($10,000,000) – No

    Widening lake Acworth Dr in Acworth ($29,100,000) – No

    Rucker Rd in Alpharetta ($19,000,000) – No

    Houze Rd in Alpharetta ($18,600,000) – No

    Widening Old Milton Pkwy in Alpharetta ($37,000,000) – No

    Widening Kimball Br in Alpharetta ($21,000,000) – No

    Improve Buford hwy Corridor in Suwanee ($5,500,000) – No

    Gravel Springs and I85 Interchange ($33,300,000) – No

    Bells Ferry and Little River Br in Canton ($7,000,000) – No

    Widening Hickory Flat in Canton ($70,000,000) – No

    Widening another part of Hickory Flat in Canton ($70,000,000) – No

    Widening a third part of Hickory Flat ($50,000,000) – No

    Widening Cumming Hwy in Cumming ($40,000,000) – No

    Widening Buford Dr in Buford ($4,100,000) – No

    Widening another part of Buford Hwy ($28,000,000) – No

    Clayton County Local Bus ($100,000,000) – No

    GRTA Express ($128,000,000) – No

    Gwinnett County Bus Service ($40,000,000) – No

    I-20 East Corridor ($225,000,000) – No

    I-85 North Corridor ($95,000,000) – No

    MARTA Electric Power Rehab ($354,400,000) – Yes

    MARTA Elevators and Escalators ($118,700,000) – Yes

    MARTA Passenger Info System ($30,500,000) – Yes

    MARTA Track Rehab ($5,600,000) – Yes

    MARTA Systems Upgrade ($4,440,000) – Yes

    MARTA UTC Infrastructure ($27,200,000) – Yes

    Perimeter ITS ($1,000,000) – Yes

    Regional Mobility Project for elderly and Disabled ($17,000,000) – Yes

     

     

    Dang. 147 projects. We can get into how I voted and why a little later. For now, digest these projects a little. Go to the site and see which projects you like and don’t like.
    Educate yourself and little and then let’s chat about this.

    As a reminder, the way I determined my vote was by asking: Would I want to spend one cent of every dollar I spend on (insert project)?

    So my answers are totally subjective and some are self-serving, but I will explain all of that later. For now, just look it over and tell me your initial thoughts below.

    – Duke

    p.s. If you want to follow my list on the map, I went from South to North starting in Griffin and Left (West) to Right (East).

    p.p.s. Big thanks to the hard-working team at Untie Atlanta! This is a very cool and interesting map that should help us all make a more-informed decision.

     

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  • Quick Thoughts on TSPLOST

    Is TSPLOST the best solution for our traffic issues?

    Everyone seems to have an opinion, so I might as well throw my hat in the ring.

    I think I like T-SPLOST overall, but I think it may be short-sighted. I think it’s apparent that we as a city have some transportation and traffic issues. What I question is whether or not this bill is the BET solution to some of those problems.

    I was reviewing the major projects in TSPLOST in the business chronicle and I was struck by how many of them focused on suburban projects. I have no problem with the suburbs and I grew up there myself, but the opportunity cost of spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the suburbs seems enormous.

    95 out of 100 Gen Y workers (straw poll) are moving into the city limits (ITP). That’s millions of young people moving in-town as the future leaders and innovators in our city. That influx of people who live, drive, and work in-town is putting a huge strain on our aging transport and infrastructure.

    Since Atlanta is a city built around the car, it’s imperative that we pay attention and create solid programs to address people moving into the city. If millions of people move into Rome or London or Paris, no big deal. The sidewalks are a little more crowded and RE prices rise to meet demand. But those cities were built around pedestrian traffic and you won’t see the same kind of gridlock that we deal with daily. In Atlanta, just about every person moving into the city is doing so with a car. So WE HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION TO COMMUTES.

    For decades, Atlanta has been the poster child for urban sprawl and white-flight into the suburbs. Now that this trend is finally reversing and our best and brightest are moving back in town, why are we spending hundreds of millions of tax payers dollars on improving suburban transportation? Or, more to the point, why are we using money that we could use in-town on projects that make suburban living easier?

    Can a fella get some light-rail?

    Again, I have no problem with the suburbs and I’m from Gwinnett County. I understand that we need to maintain our transportation system. If it’s about to collapse, let’s fix it. But I would certainly rather spend $100 Million on improving our pathetic MARTA system (paint job, anyone?) than broadening some suburban freeway to six lanes. Those suburban projects are not bad projects or bad ideas, but there is only so much money to go around and every dime you spend in the suburbs is a dime you could be spending in town.

    Maybe the simplest way I could put it is:
    Why are we spending so much money on our past (sprawl) at the expense of our future (in-town transit)?

    And let me be clear on something. I am certainly not advocating that we abandon all transportation and infrastructure projects in the suburbs. The reason cities and counties have large budgets in maintenance is to keep the roadways safe and infrastructure current. If they can’t, then they need to find a way to reallocate the funds or people just need to move somewhere else. I just get bothered by the idea of Atlanta tax payers paying for Alpharetta roads. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I think Alpharetta residents should pay for Alpharetta roads.

    Much like people, bills are neither completely good or completely evil. There are good parts and bad parts. I LOVE the Beltline project and think it’s a great long-term investment for our city, but there are at least a half-dozen projects on this bill that I see as superfluous and costly to in-town residents.

    So, the crux of the matter is that you have to convince me that the benefit of projects like the Beltline outweigh the superfluous spending on suburban projects. Show me why the good outweighs the bad in this particular version of the TSPLOST bill.

    I am open to being convinced . . .

    Try it.

    – Duke

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  • Serenbe: From the Source

    I had the pleasure of meeting with Steve Nygren this week down at the Blue-Eyed Daisy Cafe at Serenbe. For those of you who do not know who Steve is, he was a highly successful restaurant entrepreneur who sold his portfolio of restaurants several years ago. He made a nice profit on the sale and has since moved down to the southwestern suburbs of Atlanta. Using the land he bought, he has created Serenbe.

    Serenbe (pronounce Seh-Rin-Bee and not Suh-Rin-Bee) is a 900 acre master-planned community in Chattahoochee Hills (near Palmetto). It is just a few miles from the airport and a few more from downtown.

    When I say “South of Atlanta,” what images come to mind? Foreclosed homes in Clayton county? Run down apartments near the airport? Dozens of broken commercials deals along Tara Blvd? Whatever your mental picture of “South of Atlanta” is, it usually isn’t favorable. But Serenbe is a horse of a different color.

    For whatever reason, suburban development has largely bypassed the southwestern suburbs and much of the land remains, well, land. You don’t see grocery anchored-strip centers on every corner and an apartment complex every 20 feet. In fact, on the trip out to Serenbe on South Fulton Pkwy, you will drive by several miles where there is literally nothing built on either side of the road. It’s just land.

    So, you drive through the country and arrive at a small, unassuming entrance that you probably wouldn’t even notice if you weren’t looking for it (just the way Steve likes it, by the way). You turn right onto Selbourne Lane and after about a half mile and past a HUGE barn you run across a pristine little cluster of single family homes. There are probably 15-20 of them clustered together. All unique, but also somehow cohesive. They all evoke the same sense of comfort and community. Open windows and inviting porches let you imagine passing the afternoons sipping sweet tea and chatting with your neighbor.

    Next to this cluster is a small group of town homes and some ground level retail. Same story here: each TH is unique but still seems to fit the atmosphere of the place.

    The next little hamlet is Serenbe’s equivalent to Main and Main. Here you will find the restaurants, cafes, retail spaces, and European courtyard. This is where Blue-Eyed Daisy is and where I met Steve for lunch. Here you will also find several local retailers, an art gallery and the Hil Restaurant (which I recommend as a dinner option).

    The rest of the property has undeveloped lots for sale, a large meeting facility, the famous B&B, animals, a greenhouse, miles of walking trails, and much more. This is, after all, 900 acres.

    Which brings me to my next point. One of the best aspects of Serenbe is the greenspace. By using density and tightly clustered homes, Nygren has been able to keep a huge % of the space as dedicated green space. This is not, and will never be, a concrete jungle. Yes, there are several buildings and the master plan calls for many more to be built, but you get the impression that Steve always wants this to be a peaceful, tranquil, and organic experience for residents and visitors. So he will be keeping as much of the natural space as possible.

    Speaking of the master plan, I have seen it. It is ambitious . . .

    Steve is envisioning a self-sustained community that will include schools, meeting centers, office space, gyms, farms, a movie theater, a hotel, retirement communities, and much more. Again, density is the key. Serenbe has setbacks off of Atlanta-Newnan Rd and Hutcheson Ferry Rd of 300 feet. So even when all phases are complete and the site is completely built out passersby won’t have any idea about the expansive community hidden behind the trees. When and whether he will be able to pull off all this construction is up for debate. I am told he has a strong relationship with BB&T and I am sure they will help him decide the appropriate time for new construction.

    This I do know: Lot sales and development were at the same level in 2010 as they were in 2007. That makes Serenbe one of the few commercial/mixed-use projects to be able to maintain momentum through the recession. So, extrapolating from that fact, I wouldn’t bet against Steve building his oasis before any of us expects.

    So this is my little tip-of-the-cap to Steve Nygren and all of the people at Serenbe. They have created something special just south of us and people are starting to take notice. Don’t take my word for it. Go check it out yourself.

    If you happen to be strolling by Blue-Eyed Daisy on a sunny Saturday afternoon, pop your head in and ask if Steve is around. Chances are he will be sitting there sharing his vision with a prospective client or simply sharing an apple pie with one of his daughters. Either way, he will be smiling and enjoying the peaceful life at Serenbe and you should too.

    (For more info on Serenbe, visit www.serenbe.com)

    -Duke

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