Marshall Square developers may back off after commission vote

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 2:38 PM
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 10:09 PM
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Developers for the Marshall Square development might back off on building at the Evans site after the Columbia County Commission voted Tuesday night to reduce the number of residential units on the property.

The commission voted 4-0 to approve changes to the 2007 site plan with conditions set forth by the Columbia County Planning Commission at its April 16 meeting.

One of the conditions included eliminating one of seven four-story residential buildings from the project, reducing the number of apartments from 338 to 288.

County commissioners added Tuesday another condition to the 47-acre planned unit development further limiting the possible number of apartments. They reduced the density to 14 residential units per acre on the 13.5 acres designated for the apartment development.

That change would cut the number of apartments planned for the development to 182, said Miller-Valentine Group senior developer Bill Marsh, who was heading the property’s residential development.

Mr. Marsh called the commission’s decision a “complete defeat.”

“It makes the project completely infeasible,” he said. “Obviously, there’s 0 percent chance that we would proceed with what they approved.”

Commission Chairman Ron Cross said that the county’s ordinance for apartment zoning is set at 14 units per acre, and the commission was concerned about setting a different density precedent.

“We really didn’t want to create the precedent there and didn’t feel like that kind of density would be good in that location either,” he said.

Due to the current state of the economy, Mr. Marsh said that the whole project is on hold.

Without a significant number of residential units to help attract commercial establishments, he said Marshall Square likely won’t be worth pursuing.

“As a practical matter, there’s going to be a big mud hole sitting there because of this for a long time,” he said.

The vision for the development, Mr. Cross said, has been an “up-scale retail commercial center.” The commission never intended the development to become an apartment complex, he said.

“We’re ... limited in what we can enforce because it is private property, but the concept has just changed so much from what we endorsed in 2004,” he said. “There’s some real concerns that it’s going to deteriorate and not be anything the county can be proud of.”

Mr. Marsh said it’s too early for developers to decide the next step.

“We really haven’t’ had time to convene as a group and go through the options,” he said.

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

jenna.martin@augustachronicle.com.

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Just My Opinion
5623
Points
Just My Opinion 05/06/09 - 03:05 pm
0
0
Well, I can't say that I'm

Well, I can't say that I'm dissapointed. This whole project has changed so many times, it's amazing. For you folks that haven't been keeping up with this, it seems that a chance has been wasted. But, to people who have been keeping up with it, it's better to just "draw a line in the sand" (as one of the speakers said last night) and have the county stand by it's original plan. I think the developers made a mistake last night by having the president of the company come in from Atlanta, looking like a mafia boss, and trying to strong-arm the commissioners. At one point, the man said that "frankly, this project should go on WITHOUT another word from this governing body" (the commissioners)! Well, I don't know how it works in Sicily, Don Corleone, but over here, these good ol'boys don't like being muscled! Surely these developers wouldn't spend these many years pushing and pushing for this development if they didn't see ALOT...and I mean ALOT...of money to be made! They'll be back. Until then, this is the best thing to have happened. We all know those stores would've sat empty..just like the others on Washington Road! Do it again when times are better.

Riverman1
83728
Points
Riverman1 05/06/09 - 03:47 pm
0
0
Let's hope this doesn't

Let's hope this doesn't backfire with cheesy commercial establishments that will ruin the area being built instead. Afterall, it is their land and it is zoned commercial.

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 05/06/09 - 03:58 pm
0
0
Wrong, Riverman. The land is

Wrong, Riverman. The land is zoned PUD, planned unit development. Now it might be best for the developers if they come back to the planning commission with a re-zoning request to make the ~50 acres what they really want it to be. They could request industrial and build some warehouses. They could request professional office zoning. They could split the parcel and zone part of it residential (as long as the density is not too high) and part of it commercial.

Riverman1
83728
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Riverman1 05/06/09 - 04:20 pm
0
0
Perdue froze property tax

Perdue froze property tax assessments for the next two years. Just what we need is empty land. LL, I do understand what you mean about the PUD, but they can present the most mundane, ordinary development and there comes a point where the Commission can't keep demanding more upscale businesses. This is all about the apartments anyway.

Just My Opinion
5623
Points
Just My Opinion 05/06/09 - 04:27 pm
0
0
It does seem to be all about

It does seem to be all about the apartments. I think the developers where much more concerned with them than they were with what stores would go in there. I'm guessing they knew it'd be easier to make money off the "high-end" apartments than it would be on the stores, especially over the long run. I'm still thinking the developers are bluffing...but what do I know? I don't even play poker!

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 05/06/09 - 04:44 pm
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0
The property tax assessment

The property tax assessment freeze applies only to single family homes with a homestead exemption. So it does not apply to the Marshall property.

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 05/06/09 - 04:46 pm
0
0
It seems these developers

It seems these developers like to make a game out of violating countly or city zoning requirements. Here Columbia County has a long-standing density requirement of no more than 14 apartment units per acre. So the developer makes doggone sure that their plan is over the limit. I guess if they had got it through someone would have won a bet. If the County is going to have rules, then they need to enforce them.

Riverman1
83728
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Riverman1 05/06/09 - 05:06 pm
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0
The land by itself is not

The land by itself is not going to bring in that much in taxes is my point. LL, couldn't the PUD allow variances to the apartment density ordinance as it can with almost every other facet? I know you went to the county meetings and know the issue well.

Riverman1
83728
Points
Riverman1 05/06/09 - 05:10 pm
0
0
By the way, the bill Perdue

By the way, the bill Perdue signed does not prevent assessments from being reduced. It is not a "freeze" in that sense.

ColCo
780
Points
ColCo 05/06/09 - 06:12 pm
0
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Riverman, the problem lies in

Riverman, the problem lies in the fact that there is no established apartment density for PUD's. The Marshall's messed this thing up from the beginning when they proposed and sold the county on a live/work development, without the ability to pay for the construction themselves or a developing partner to hand the project off to, and as time has passed, so have the opportunities to construct their "vision" for the property. Miller Valentine does good work, I would expect to see them involved in other projects in the county in the future.

TS
0
Points
TS 05/06/09 - 10:43 pm
0
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That area needs a 7 to 10

That area needs a 7 to 10 floor apartment building, a commercial area with a park in the middle, a nice outdoor public pool. And a pedestrian link to the library.

Of course that would all make traffic a nightmare.

imdstuf
10
Points
imdstuf 05/06/09 - 10:48 pm
0
0
I thought they were going to

I thought they were going to build a Cheesecake Factory in Evans..darn lol

Little Lamb
45870
Points
Little Lamb 05/07/09 - 08:17 am
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0
Thank you, ColCo. I have

Thank you, ColCo. I have been saying all along that the owners of this parcel proposed a plan (and got it approved in 2004) that they did not have enough money to build. They then proposed a more modest plan (and got it approved in 2007) that they did not have enough money (or credit rating) to build. Now they come back in 2009 and propose a plan totally contrary to the concepts of PUD. They propose apartments, shopping center, and out parcel restaurants. That is just what the conventional zoning classifications are for. It is time for the Marshalls to request a zoning change from PUD back to conventional zoning.

doubt-it
0
Points
doubt-it 05/07/09 - 10:20 am
0
0
What a bunch of tools these

What a bunch of tools these commissioners are, everyone of them. They have determined that the only folks in town with property rights are those who propose projects to increase their sales tax revenues. As long as they can keep the black folks out, they'll get reelected.

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