Columbia County board accepts changes to Marshall Square

Thursday, April 16, 2009 10:19 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 10:09 PM
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After much discussion, the Columbia County Planning Commission decided Thursday to accept recent site plan revisions made to a planned mixed-used development in Evans -- with one condition.

Planning commissioner Thom Tuckey made a motion to eliminate one of the seven residential buildings planned for Marshall Square, reducing the number of up-scale apartment units from to 338 to 288.

The apartment building that planning commissioners did not favor was positioned in between and in close proximity to two residential buildings on the southern side of the property.

“It looks like it was added as an afterthought to make the economics work,” Mr. Tuckey said.

The changes to Marshall Square, located on 47 acres across from Ronald Reagan Drive, were unanimously approved by the commission during its meeting, which lasted more than 2 1/2 hours.

Revisions to a 2007 plan had been previously tabled by the planning and zoning board on Feb. 5. The changes had separated residential units from commercial buildings and eliminated a high-rise residential tower. Developers made additional changes to the site plan after it was tabled.

The approved plans include six four-story residential buildings, built in a historic Williamsburg style and equipped with elevators. Some units will feature additional high-scale amenities, said the project’s residential developer Bill Marsh with the Miller-Valentine Group.

A 15,000- to 20,000-square-foot public square, located between two residential and two retail buildings, was added to the plans.

Commercial units will occupy the first floor of both residential buildings closest to the public square, according to developers. Also, four “live/work” buildings were shown to front Evans Town Center Boulevard with a total of 24 condominium units located above retail space.

The apartments could be converted to condominiums depending on the real estate market , developers previously said.

Additional safety features, such as decorative wrought- iron gates and call boxes, would be constructed at each apartment building. A restrictive covenant, if allowable by law, would prevent the units from becoming low-income housing, according to developers.

Joe Marshall, whose family owns the property, said the developers have made “tremendous” sacrifices on the project.

“We’ve both cut as much as we can stand on this to try and get it started,” he said during the meeting.

Several residents gave their opinions both for and against the recent changes.

Bob Brandon, who lives in the Northwood subdivision near the development, said he believed the project would benefit the area, but worried about the long-term results if the property is sold in the future.

Mr. Marsh said the project, as proposed with seven buildings, could cost about $40 million dollars and take about 16 months to complete. Construction could begin by the end of the year.

Chairperson Jean Garniewicz emphasized that Columbia County commissioners will make the ultimate decision on Marshall Square.

“We are a recommending body only,” she said. “The BOC (Board of Commissioners) has the final decision to make.”

Reach Jenna Martin at 868-1222, ext. 109 or

jenna.martin@augustachronicle.com.


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