The Avalon project in Alpharetta moves forward

Below is a statement released yesterday by the City of Alpharetta. It is a call for public input on the zoning application submitted for a new development to replace the rotting parking garage currently sitting at the doorstep of our city on Old Milton Parkway.

I encourage all of you to participate in this process. It will have an enormous impact on our community, our quality of life and our property values for years to come.

We Want To Hear From You

North American Properties, the new owner of the 80-acre site at the northwest corner of GA-400 and Old Milton Parkway that was formerly known as Prospect Park, has submitted to the City ofAlpharetta their proposed plan for developing the site. As envisioned by the owner, the project, now named “Avalon”, would be a development consisting of retail, office, hotel, and residential uses with additional outparcels set aside for future sale or development.

While the formal public hearings for the Avalon Proposal are tentatively scheduled to begin on March 1st when the proposal is presented to the Planning Commission, the City ofAlpharetta is seeking early feedback on the owner’s plans.

Please take a few moments to visit our Open City Hall online discussion about the new Avalon Proposal.  There you can view the proposed site plan for Avalon and the table comparing the uses proposed by North American Properties to those that were approved for the formerProspectPark.  Then, let us know your initial impressions, thoughts, concerns or suggestions. Your comments may be helpful to North American Properties as its plans are further refined and may also assist the Planning Commission and the City Council as they consider the proposal.

Also, please consider sharing this opportunity with your friends and neighbors.  We want to hear from all interested citizens.

Thank you for your participation.

James T. Drinkard
Assistant City Administrator, City of Alpharetta

Prospect Park under contract

Rumors have been circling for the past few weeks and now the Atlanta Business Chronicle is reporting that Alpharetta’s defunct Prospect Park project is under contract to Cincinnati based North American Properties, Inc.

Three years after construction stalled on Alpharetta’s $750 million Prospect Park luxury mixed-use project, North American Properties Inc. has the 106-acre site under contract.

North American Properties will scale back plans of the project’s former developer, Stan Thomas, who once hoped for 750,000 square feet of retail, a hotel, 350,000 square feet of offices and 81 residences starting at $1.5 million.

You can read the whole thing here.

North American Properties is the same company that also purchased a central piece of Midtown Atlanta’s struggling Atlantic Station project earlier this year. You can read more about what North American Properties has done wtih Atlantic Station here, here and here.

As a resident of Alpharetta I can only hope that this sale will mean Prospect Park can now become the jewel that was originally promised.

Prospect Park developer faces jail time

Stan Thomas, the developer responsible for the failed Prospect Park development in Alpharetta, Georgia could be facing jail time for contempt of court. The legal case is unrelated to the foreclosure of the Prospect Park development but it does shed some light on the man the city trusted with our future.  The Times- Herald of Coweta County reports:

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Scheindlin on Oct. 12 issued a $13.5 million judgment in the case in favor of Jerde. Since that time, according to Scheindlin’s contempt order, Thomas transferred a $6.5 million promissory note, backed by real estate Thomas owns in the Cayman Islands, to an unrelated lender, in violation of the judgment. Scheindlin ordered Thomas to transfer $6.1 million and other considerations to Jerde. If Thomas didn’t comply by Dec. 30, he would be fined $10,000 per day. If he doesn’t comply by Jan. 20, he will be jailed.

You can read the whole article here.

If you want to know more about the man responsible for Alpharetta’s dirt mound on Old Milton Parkway you may also want to read here about Mr. Thomas’ dealings with former Governor Sonny Perdue:

That same year, Perdue sold off the family farm and invested his $2 million profit in 20 acres in Florida near Walt Disney World. Perdue never saw the land before buying it from developer Stanley Thomas, who Perdue had just appointed to Georgia’s Board of Economic Development, a plum choice for any state developer, and just after Thomas had given $250,000 to the Georgia Republican Party. The land was assessed at just $185,000, substantially reducing Perdue’s tax burden.“Perdue ethics charges linger,” Associated Press/Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, Dec. 27, 2006.(20)Perdue ethics charges linger,”

And you may recall that the city of Alpharetta investigated ethics charges involving Mr. Thomas last year as reported here in the Alpharetta Revue:

At the time, Thomas said he saw no conflict of interest with the donation. Later when he became aware of the size of the value of the work and the proximity of time between the in-kind contribution and the vote, Thomas said he would have probably advised DeRito “in an abundance of caution” to recuse himself from the vote.

I know Councilman Derito. He seems like a nice guy with a nice family and he was cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident reported above. And though I have no reason to believe Councilman Derito did anything illegal or acted with anything other than the best of intentions it was disturbing to find out about the events that took place regardless of how noble the cause.

The past few years have been unkind to Mr. Thomas and I take no pleasure in seeing a businessman struggle. But the city of Alpharetta and it’s community development department allowed Stan Thomas to turn the most important parcel of land in the city into a wasteland. It is instructive to see who they were dealing with.

Derito Imbroglio?

WSB TV in Atlanta has recently done two investigative reports about possible political shenanigans here in Alpharetta, GA. Both of the reports center around newly re-elected City Councilman (and presumed mayoral candidate) Doug Derito.

The first news report was that Councilman Derito steered $375,000 in advertising revenue from the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau to Alpharetta High School. I mentioned that story in an earlier post:

The latest story is even more troubling. According to WSB Councilman Derito introduced representatives of Alpharetta High School to the developer of the bankrupt Prospect Park development in Alpharetta. That developer, Thomas Enterprises, then performed $120,000 worth of grading work free of charge for the high school. Great news right? The problem is that within weeks Thomas Enterprises went before the Alpharetta City Council to ask for higher densities on the Prospect Park development and Councilman Derito voted in favor of the proposal. The increase in density may have been worth millions of dollars.

You can see the whole report at: