Last night the Alpharetta City Council reviewed an application from Met Life Insurance Company and apartment developer Lincoln Property Company which would rezone a parcel of land on Haynes Bridge road to high density mixed use from office and industrial. The council has already approved two of these massive projects in recent years and neither one has been economically viable but they still represent about 1000 condominiums which have yet to be built in an already saturated real estate market. I attended the public hearing and you can read my comments below:
I have come to voice my opposition to the Peridot project which is proposed by Met Life and Lincoln Property Company. I oppose this project for many reasons but to save time I will stick to the biggest reason of all: Peridot is bad for Alpharetta.
Will Rogers once said, “When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”. So I stand here before you to point out that we are in a hole… please stop digging!
There are 282 condominiums listed for sale in Alpharetta today and last month only 14 of those actually sold. So as you decide whether to approve 500 more condos know that there is already two years’ worth of condominium inventory and that doesn’t include the 1200 condominiums this council has already approved but haven’t been built because the market is saturated. Prospect Park, Windward Mill and the Georgian downtown are already waiting for the demand to catch up with supply. In other words, we are in a hole… please stop digging!
The same thing goes for the commercial & retail space the applicants are requesting. There are brand new, vacant buildings across from the Best Buy on Haynes Bridge Road and all along Highway 9 near Windward Parkway. In fact there is empty space all over Alpharetta because supply already outstrips demand. When this council considered building more retail in the city center project downtown I pointed to the vacant storefronts across the street and asked you not to add more inventory to an over saturated market. You acted wisely in that case and now those storefronts are filled. You need to exercise restraint like that again. In other words, we are in a hole… please stop digging!
Prospect Park is an eyesore on our doorstep. Windward Mill is mothballed along with the Georgian townhomes and City Center project downtown. The collapse of the condo and commercial real estate market are not this council’s fault and I don’t mean to imply that you are the reason we are in a hole. But we do find ourselves in a hole and you can stop digging.
A few years ago someone that used to work with me on zonings ran for city council. The Alpharetta Neighbor profiled him and said that filling empty retail and commercial space was one of his top priorities. They reported that he would “like to see all empty retail and commercial space filled before more development and construction are approved”. That candidate understood that it is bad for the city of Alpharetta to keep adding supply when there is too little demand. The people of Alpharetta understood too and that’s why Councilman Kennedy is now sitting up there on the dais.
I ask all of you to heed what the people of Alpharetta voted for and what Councilman Kennedy understood when he ran for office. Adding the Peridot project to an oversaturated market will depress real estate prices even further in Alpharetta and cripple our chances of ever completing the other mixed use projects already begun. I ask that you not approve this project because Peridot is bad for Alpharetta. We are in a hole… please stop digging!
After hours of discussion the city council ended up tabling the mixed use application until next month and only approved the requested variance which would allow MetLife to proceed with the channeling of a stream. In what was the most stunning revelation for me the application actually said that they originally approached the Alpharetta Community Development department about a simple stream variance and it was the city’s staff that recommended they pursue this project now.
Are you kidding me? I love this city and have no interest in being negative but if we are not realistic we will continue to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Two restaurants have been torn down in the Northpoint area and one remains an empty lot. The retail center across from Best Buy was completely redone at our community development department’s urging and yet it still sits vacant. There are at least three new shopping centers on Highway 9 north of downtown that are either completely vacant or largely unfilled. As I mention above there are three major projects (City Center, Prospect Park and Windward Mill) which have either been approved or for which there is a great deal of support within the community.
And yet with this oversaturation of residential, commercial and retail real estate the Alpharetta Community Development department took it upon themselves to urge a developer seeking a stream variance to spend tens of thousands of dollars bringing another high density mixed use development before city council. Unbelievable.
What was the definition of insanity again?