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Developer proposes homes, offices, shops

Commission has final say on Hall portion of Thompson’s Crossing

POSTED: March 15, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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Hall County Planning Commission reviewed a rezoning request for a 28-acre site on the north side of Thompson Mill Road Monday that could result in a 67-acre mixed-use development that would straddle the Gwinnett County line.

Rochester and Associates Inc. asked the planning commission to approve rezoning of the 28-acre site across from The Village at Deaton Creek from planned residential development and agriculture residential to planned commercial development.

The planning commission unanimously approved the recommendation Monday, and the proposed mixed-use development, titled Thompson’s Crossing, will undergo final consideration at the Hall County Board of Commissioners meeting on March 27.

Rochester and Associates Inc. has yet to receive approval for the Gwinnett County portion of the project.

Rochester and Associates Inc. is teaming with Vintage Communities, the developer that also built The Village at Deaton Creek, to propose a commercial, office and residential development with roughly 28 acres in Hall County and 39 acres in Gwinnett County.

The 28-acre Hall County site could contain 168 residential units that may be town homes, condominiums or lofts, more than 529,000 square feet of retail and office space and a 200-room hotel. The total overall development could include 657 residential units and more than 783,000 square feet of retail and office space.

Eric Masaschi, vice president of Vintage Communities, said the development could draw national retailers such as Victoria’s Secret, Anne Taylor Loft and Trader Joe’s to Thompson Mill Road as well as locally owned boutiques.

He said if county commissioners approve the project for final action, construction could begin this year, and is scheduled for completion in 2015.

Masaschi said Thompson’s Crossing could contain a 3-acre residential and community park, an amphitheater and a town center that contains retail and cafes with outdoor seating. He added that the master-planned community is designed to be pedestrian friendly, and aims to attract young professionals or empty-nesters to its upscale "mansion condominiums," that could range in price from $300,000 to $600,000 per unit.

"The residential units have to be there to feed the retail," Masaschi said. "We’re trying to create a mixed-use lifestyle retail center. We’re trying to do smart growth that really is a live, work, play environment."

Randy Knighton, Hall County Planning and Zoning Director, said a new road, tentatively called the Thompson Mill Road realignment, could be built to accommodate the influx of traffic to the area.

"This will continue the trend of development in the southern portion of the county and will complement The Village at Deaton Creek residential development and the Northeast Georgia Medical Center," he said.

Developers and planning commissioners aren’t the only ones in favor of the project. Nearly 20 residents, most of whom reside in The Village at Deaton Creek, attended the planning commission meeting to voice their support for the 67-acre mixed-use center.

"We’re just in love with it, we can’t hardly wait," said Dick Haglund, who lives in The Village at Deaton Creek. "We’ve talked to so many people ... and they’re excited, too. We can just walk down there from where we live, and the men can sit on the benches in the park while the wives shop."

Only one nearby resident spoke against the project, and voiced concerns about traffic safety on Ga. 211.

Bruce Brown lives near the entrance to Chateau Elan and said he supports the development, but believes the narrow, two-lane bridge on Ga. 211 over Duncan Creek could become a major safety hazard to drivers as more vehicles travel the state road to reach Thompson’s Crossing.

As a condition for the project’s approval, Hall County Planning Commissioner Don Smallwood said the developers must work with Hall County traffic engineers and the Georgia Department of Transportation to conduct a traffic engineering study and make the road improvements necessary to support the development. Also, developers have yet to determine whether Thompson’s Crossing will operate off public sewer.



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