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Cottages planned in downtown Lula after townhome proposal hit snag
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Norton owns a comparable development called The Cottages of Enota in Gainesville. The cottages, pictured above, have similar floor plans and design to what Norton plans for downtown Lula. - photo by Frank Norton Jr.

After a townhome development plan from The Norton Agency stalled last spring, a new, 19-unit cottage community is planned in downtown Lula, reducing the previous proposal’s density. 

The new plan, dubbed The Cottages of Lula, will include one- and two-story freestanding homes, 1,400 to 1,600 square feet in size.

Frank Norton Jr., CEO of The Norton Agency, initially proposed a 36-unit townhome rental community in Lula last April on about 4 acres at 5980 Moon Drive. The Lula Planning Commission recommended denial of the rezoning after residents voiced traffic and density concerns, and Norton withdrew his application in June.

The new design can be developed without rezoning, only needing to meet city development standards and get the mayor's signature to approve the plat at Lula City Council’s next meeting Tuesday, Jan. 18.

“I listened very carefully to the community comments,” Norton said. “I see the city of Lula as a wonderful community … The community needs, I think, and the elected leaders are looking for some additional energy into the community.”

Building on the project could start this summer with four or five homes built initially, and the rest of the community would be built gradually, he said. Unless building hits a snag with continued supply chain issues, each home is expected to take four to six months to build, so some homes could be complete by the end of 2022 or early 2023. 

“From the exterior it will look like it was grown organically over a period of time with lots of historic elements and front porches and side porches,” he said. 

Starting rent for the cottages would be about $1,200 per month. The target market for these homes include young professionals, teachers and medical workers, he said. 

The community will be developed and managed by Norton’s Ncredible Properties division, which developed a similar project, The Cottages on Enota, in Gainesville. 

Former City Councilman Mordecai Wilson used to own the property, bounded by Athens Street, State Route 53 and Maiden Lane, and he still resides in a house there. 

Wilson said part of his agreement when he sold the property in 2018 was that he would be able to live there as long as he wants. Norton closed on the land last summer, and he confirmed that Wilson’s home would not be affected by the new development.