Lanier Village Estates is expanding, adding cottages to its already-impressive retirement community in North Hall.
It will soon add 31 cottage-style homes off Thompson Bridge Road, but the work being done right now can be seen off Mount Vernon Road behind the Kroger-anchored shopping center.
“We have been planning this expansion for over five years,” said David McCreight, regional director of sales for Acts Retirement-Life Communities, which operates Lanier Village.
Trees are coming down, exposing a couple of dilapidated homes, and grading is beginning for what will soon add about 24 acres of residences for those looking for an independent living situation.
The 31 homes that will be built are already sold.
“Our extensive wait list shows the highest demand for single family homes.” McCreight said.
About 580 people now live at Lanier Village, which opened in 2001. It has 303 independent living apartments, 40 assisted living suites, 31 carriage homes and 64 skilled-care rooms.
The new cottages are expected to be complete in mid-2021 and will offer two different models, each with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a den and even a two-car garage. Both models will be more than 2,000 square feet.
“The new development will connect to the existing community near the intersection of Valley Hall Lane and at Misty Morning Way,” said Peter Delgado, regional director of construction for Acts.
Along with the cottages, Delgado said there will be a community building and pond near the center of the expansion and two stormwater ponds near the south side along Mount Vernon Road.
The Hall County Planning Commission approved the request for expansion Sept. 4, 2018, with commission member Johnny Varner being the only one opposed. The Hall County Board of Commissioners moved it forward Sept. 27, 2018.
The proposal, though, was met with a bit of scrutiny from neighbors who were concerned with traffic and runoff pollution in Lake Lanier.
“The traffic up and down Mount Vernon Road is horrible now … There have been numerous wrecks,” Chris Smith said at the Sept. 4 planning commission meeting.
Brian Deriso of THW Design, who is working on the project with Acts, said a third-party traffic study found no need for a turn lane into the new portion of the development, which would be placed on Mount Vernon Road. When all is said and done, there will be a gated entrance there.
Permits to start the work came in at the end of October, and ever since, the land has been getting clearer and clearer, opening up a sprawling hill once covered with trees and brush. The horizon meets the top of the hill where construction equipment sits.
At the 2018 planning commision meeting, Cathy Cuyler, who lives downstream from Lanier Village Estates, said when construction on the original development was done in the late 1990s, sediment flowed down into the cove where she lives.
“It flooded down the stream that goes down into the lake, and our cove is shallow as it is,” Cuyler said. “But the sediment has caused it to be even more shallow. It’s the first part that goes dry when the lake starts going down.”
Commission chairman Don Smallwood told those concerned at that meeting that when the development was first built, there were some “construction problems” that were glossed over, but “it’s not going to happen this time.”
Delgado said the project will cost $14.5 million and will bring Lanier Village’s campus size to about 109 acres.
The demand for independent living homes, as opposed to apartments, is high, which is why Acts decided it was time to expand.
“The additional land was purchased specifically for the construction of cottages,” McCreight said.
Reporter Megan Reed contributed to this story.