Property on Skinner Mill Road won't be developed

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Residential property on Skinner Mill Road planned first for a townhome community and later a single-family neighborhood won’t be developed into either.

Developer Gary Gilmer is abandoning both infill projects and withdrew his latest plans for a 38-patio home subdivision at 3217 and 3221 Skinner Mill Road during Monday’s city planning commission meeting.

“I was originally proposing the townhouses and all was looking great as far as with the banks,” he said. “They were 110 percent behind us, but now we’re doing what the community wants and the banks will not support the project. It’s going the other way. We tried to please them (neighbors), and we shoot ourselves in the foot. Either way, we’re stuck so we’re just going to totally withdraw all together.”

Gilmer and a business partner initially wanted to develop the two Augusta parcels into a 66-unit townhome development at a density of 10.9 units per acre, less than the 17 units per acre maximum set forth by the city. Gilmer planned to build out the “high-end” subdivision in three phases and price the homes between the high $140,000s and $200,000.

Surrounding homeowners, however, expressed disdain with the project, worried that traffic would increase on the already busy road and their own property values would plummet. A search on the city’s online property maps system showed that home values in the neighborhoods next to the land on Skinner Mill Road ranged from the upper 100s to nearly $1 million.

More than 100 residents living in Waverly, Dorchester, Park Place and other nearby neighborhoods signed a petition to block Gilmer from rezoning the six acres to multifamily residential.

In response to the opposition, Gilmer withdrew his townhome rezoning request in May and changed the layout. In his new plans, the clustered development remained gated and kept the same “English cottage” feel. Gilmer said the homes would be marketed between $299,000 and $400,000.

The three banks that approved financing for the townhomes, though, couldn’t do the same for the new project because of a low property appraisal, said Gilmer, a former Atlanta developer who now lives in Thomson.

“The appraisers today need 90 days or 120 days to look back on (comparables),” he said. “There aren’t any comps in the area that are going to appraise because this is an older community. We pushed the envelope with them, so to speak, beyond what they were comfortable with.”

Bart O’Quinn, who lives next to the property on Skinner Mill Road, said he and his neighbors are happy the land will retain a lower-density residential zoning. The current one-family residential zoning would allow no more than 17 homes to be built on the land, he added.

“I’d rather have woods then 17 homes, but I’d rather have 17 homes than 41 homes,” he said. “We just didn’t think it was going to be fair to have it switched on us.”

Gilmer said he’ll shift his focus to two proposed Columbia County projects that include a 16-unit townhome community on Flowing Wells Road near Interstate 20 and a 23-acre subdivision on Harlem-Grovetown Road.

“I’m learning more about the Augusta market,” he said. “It’s night and day from Atlanta is what I’m really realizing. I’m trying to bring the same product that I was comfortable in building back in Atlanta out this way. Without the banks supporting it, it’s just not going to happen right now. It might be another 20 years.”

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countyman
21643
Points
countyman 08/04/14 - 07:31 pm
5
4
Price point!!!

Why didn't he market the homes between $200k/$400k or $250k/$400k? The banks would have approved the project even without the comparables..

How many neighborhoods in the CSRA are $300k and up? The Augusta market is growing, but were definitely not metro Atlanta..

pointstoponder
612
Points
pointstoponder 08/04/14 - 10:07 pm
6
0
The home price would have to

The home price would have to cover the cost of development in order to make a profit. Maybe the lower number wouldn't support the cost of infrastructure. Then again, if the city had kept their promise about extending sanitary when they sold residents in the area on consolidation, the property would probably have been developed years ago.

Dixieman
17430
Points
Dixieman 08/05/14 - 02:25 am
10
0
It's not rocket science

“I’m learning more about the Augusta market,” he said. “It’s night and day from Atlanta is what I’m really realizing. I’m trying to bring the same product that I was comfortable in building back in Atlanta out this way...."
No, this is NOT Atlanta -- thank God! You couldn't pay me enough to make me live in that sinkhole!
And by far and away most of the residents of the CSRA share my view.
Back to the drawing board. Next time research local trends, tastes, mores, etc. before drawing up grandiose plans!

Riverman1
93864
Points
Riverman1 08/05/14 - 03:25 am
11
0
Banks Are Clear

In his new plans, the clustered development remained gated and kept the same “English cottage” feel. Gilmer said the homes would be marketed between $299,000 and $400,000.

The three banks that approved financing for the townhomes, though, couldn’t do the same for the new project because of a low property appraisal, said Gilmer, a former Atlanta developer who now lives in Thomson."

That seems pretty clear. The banks don't think new homes priced that high in that area would work.

corgimom
38546
Points
corgimom 08/05/14 - 05:10 am
4
1
Countyman, did you even fully

Countyman, did you even fully read the story?

Proud2Serve
418
Points
Proud2Serve 08/05/14 - 05:57 am
10
1
I have to agree with Countryman

They are crazy to think that $400,000 homes would be marketable in that area. You have low income apartments right down the street. (Woodwinds, Merrick Place etc.) The bank made the right decision.

Little Lamb
49138
Points
Little Lamb 08/05/14 - 07:00 am
3
0
Comparables

Okay, dude. You've got two parcels of land located in a single-family, residential neighborhood. The comparable thing to do would be to build a single-family residence on each parcel, not some grandiose townhome project. Stick with current zoning and you'll be applauded by the community.

countyman
21643
Points
countyman 08/05/14 - 10:17 am
1
1
Proud2serve.. There's already

Proud2serve.. There's already numerous homes over $400k in the area and the rent at Millbrook Pointe FKA Merrick Place is around $600 per month for a 1 br and goes up to $1000... They're not upscale apartments, but nowhere close to being 'low income''..

AFjoe
5578
Points
AFjoe 08/05/14 - 01:54 pm
1
0
Word of the day

"Grandiose"

countyman
21643
Points
countyman 08/05/14 - 03:29 pm
1
3
Area

The planning and zoning department shouldn't allow for somebody to develop anything near the Augusta Exchange unless it's grandiose or fits an certain requirement... There's people renting apartments on Skinner Mill road(Brigham Woods) for $900 to $1500 per month...

The strict guidelines is why Summerville will always be a much better investment compared to the new subdivisions across the CSRA... The two proposed developments in Columbia County won't face much opposition.. Flowing Wells is an older part of CC similar to Skinner Mill road, but Flowing Wells only has one upscale neighborhood... The area surrounding Harlem/Grovetown rd is underdeveloped and homes between $100k and $150k is a major improvement..

Gage Creed
19417
Points
Gage Creed 08/05/14 - 06:53 pm
0
0
The Shoppes at Dyess?

Maybe they can build the Shoppes at Dyess on Skinner Mill Road...

Spelling Shops as Shoppes makes them grandiose doesn't it?

(And they haven't been built on Jimmy Dyess yet...)

Proud2Serve
418
Points
Proud2Serve 08/07/14 - 06:04 am
0
0
Realism

Countryman,

I lived on Skinner Mill Rd in Woodwinds while I was in college back in the 90's. I moved out of the area because of the crime. After the second shooting occured in '99, it was time to move. Merrick Place was section 8. Millbrook Point is Section 8. You can paint it all you want. It's low income.

While Brigham Woods seems nice from their website, they had better be glad they have a fence. I cannot see the logic of paying $1500 a month to live next to a Ghetto; fence or not.

I admire your optimism about the area, but let's be realistic.

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